Joanna Mitchell: Jo Blogs on Fruit Focus 2022
Here goes my first ever attempt at blogging, and what better time to get started than the very busy, ‘fruitful’ summertime straight off the back of attending Fruit Focus!
How did I get here?
Firstly, a little bit about me and how I found myself at James Hutton Limited this summer. I am on my second placement with MDS on their fresh produce grad-scheme. In my opinion, the best thing about MDS is it is perfect for people who have literally no idea what they want to do, where they want to live or what career opportunities are out there, but we are not completely hopeless wanderers!
What we do all have in common is an interest in the fresh produce industry. So, fast forward, after my first 6 months in Kent, I was delighted to be seconded 500 miles North back to my Scottish homeland in the sunny climates of Dundee.
My First Adventure into Marketing!
With a Geography and International Relations degree, more waitressing/bar jobs than I can keep count of and having worked with horses and sheep, marketing was an entirely new field to me, so I did not quite know what to expect when MDS informed me this was my next avenue to explore. However, like all humans, plants and animals on this planet, adaption is key to survival, and it was time to dig deep and find some creativity hidden away in the back of my head somewhere!
Another thing us MDS Trainees have in common is an unrivalled determination to prove ourselves, however this can backfire slightly when in my case I realised just how much this was matched up with being totally naïve! Searching for a project I could get my teeth into, I jumped at the chance at being offered to manage James Hutton Limited’s marketing for Fruit Focus to be my baby!
This is where the naivety comes into play…little did I know just how much ground-breaking work toward the soft fruit industry James Hutton Limited has contributed. Now the real challenges began of how on earth do you capture years and years’ worth of influential history and impressive current projects with exciting prospects in a marketing campaign over just a few weeks, leaflets and graphics for a wall display?
Just when I thought I had things figured out, Nikki Jennings our raspberry and blackberry breeder, Susan McCallum our blueberry breeder and Amanda Moura our blackcurrant breeder had brought me up to speed with the breeding consortiums we have, I found out there was a whole untouched topic of redcurrants too!
You name it, James Hutton does it!
During my first week here back in May, my secondment manager Jonathan Snape said to me “every day at James Hutton is a school day”. Even after the 25 years he has been here for, I can now confirm, I most certainly agree with this!
Having scrambled through any science related exams at school, Molecular Diagnostics sounded like a very alien topic to me. Vanessa Young (Nessie) heads up the Molecular Diagnostics department here and thank you very much to Nessie for her patience allowing me to translate her expertise into some new marketing material. Until now my only exposure to DNA finger printing was from being hooked on crime dramas on TV, I had no idea DNA finger printing of plants played such a crucial role in the soft fruit industry. The way Molecular Diagnostics links into the breeding programmes allowing molecular markers to be used to accelerate the process in identifying superior lines for selection I guess is what makes James Hutton unique. Having access to both breeding and world leading research right here in Scotland is seriously impressive and something I had no idea existed!
So, off to the tropical climates of Kent where Fruit Focus was held, factor 50 applied, and ready to see what it was all about!
Thankfully, the team at James Hutton Limited supported me on my first real adventure into the world of marketing so I was confident our material was ready to go. Fruit Focus saw the exciting reveal of our new marketing campaign on “Why-Pac Man just LOVES fruit from James Hutton”. The idea behind this campaign is that Pac-Man has always been hungry for fruit, but we think he would really love James Hutton Limited’s. Credit for not only the idea but also for wearing the Pac Man Outfit in 25 degrees plus heat must go to Scott Grant!
We managed to stop a mischievous Pac Man from eating all our raspberry samples, which was just as well as our two newly released primocane varieties, Skye and Lewis went down an absolute storm. Having the opportunity to showcase some of the work James Hutton do and to meet some of the people they are working with now in such an important time when food and science is so fundamental to the future was an absolute privilege.
We managed to stop a mischievous Pac Man from eating all our raspberry samples, which was just as well as our two newly released primocane varieties, Skye and Lewis went down an absolute storm.
Having the opportunity to showcase some of the work James Hutton do and to meet some of the people they are working with now in such an important time when food and science is so fundamental to the future was an absolute privilege.