Objectives of the Vitacress Conservation Trust

The Vitacress Conservation Trust (VCT) is a charitable organisation which was set up in 2006 to focus on environmental initiatives associated with salad and watercress crop production through working in close partnerships and creating strong links with like-minded organisations such as The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and University of Southampton. Its two principal objectives are:

1. To preserve and conserve wildlife and habitats associated with watercress and other salad crops for the public benefit.

2. To undertake research and analysis into wildlife associated with chalk streams and other habitats associated with watercress and other salad crops and to disseminate the useful results for the public benefit with a view to increasing public knowledge and awareness thereof.

We are committed to creating and building a Conservation Trust that really does make a difference, improving and protecting some of the special habitats we are privileged to work in and around and making them better understood by, and accessible to, the public – especially our local schools.

Trustees of the Vitacress Conservation Trust

Lady Alison Wakeham MBE DL – Patron

Lady Alison Wakeham

Alison Wakeham has lived in Hampshire for 25 years, near Alresford, overlooking the watercress beds.

She is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, and is patron or trustee of a number of local and national charities and organisations.She is a keen conservationist and gardener.


Professor Gail Taylor – Chair

Gail Taylor in Professor and Chair (Head of Department) of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, routinely voted as number 1, globally for Plant and Animal Sciences. She is rresponsible for 750 people, over 2,000 acres of experimental  farm, 150 acres orchard, 90,000 sq. feet of glasshouse and laboratory, >$50 million budget, and a significant endowment. She oversees the management of seven Research Information Centres focussed on Translational Plant Sciences – plant science that matters for problem solving. She has trained over 50 graduate students to PhD and her current research is improving the safety and quality of leafy green crops for indoor and outdoor production systems. This includes reducing the water footprint of culinary herbs, improving the anti-cancer properties of watercress and developing more sustainable cropping systems for future resource- limited climates. She also has  long-term interest in plants used for bioenergy.


Tim Jackson

Tim is the Principal of Sparsholt College Hampshire (incorporating Andover Tertiary College) which is one of the largest Landbased FE colleges in the UK. Tim has held the post of Principal since 1998, having been Vice Principal, Head of Faculty and Course Tutor/Manager at Sparsholt College prior to that.

Tim is a graduate Applied Biologist who worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food before training to teach in Further Education. Tim’s teaching has been largely related to applied field biology including arable crop and grassland management, but with a specialism in crop protection.

Tim is a member of the Rural Group of the Hampshire Economic Partnership and the Hampshire Rural Forum.


Dr Steve Rothwell

Dr Steve RothwellDr Rothwell has a PhD in the Nutritional & Environmental Physiology of Watercress, gained at the University of Bath in 1983, the year he joined Hampshire Watercress Ltd (later to become Vitacress Salads Ltd) as Head of Research and Development.

Over the next 20 years, Steve led Vitacress’ agronomic development and extensive research work. As Technical Director he was responsible for food safety and quality and as Production Director for growing operations. In addition, he drove the Group’s Sustainability agenda and within that its environmental and conservation initiatives. Steve semi-retired in 2015, taking up a Non-Executive Director role in which he continues to oversee the company’s research and environmental strategy.

Dr Rothwell is Vice Chairman of the NFU Watercress Growers’ Association and is a member of the Institute of Biology, a Chartered Biologist and a member of the Institute of Horticulture.

Vitacress has attained ISO 14001 accreditation in recognition of its environmental standards and has won a number of environmental awards, including the SEEDA Sustainable Business – Environment Award 2008 and the Regional Chamber of Commerce Green Award 2008.


Toby Brinsmead

Toby Brinsmead was appointed Chief Executive Officer for the Vitacress group of companies in September 2013. He has a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance and became a Chartered Management Accountant in 1995. He spent his early career working in healthcare insurance before gaining extensive experience of the food industry with Dairy Crest where, over a 14 year period, he held a number of financial positions before taking over as Managing Director of Dairies in 2008.

Toby is keen to see Vitacress continue its commitment to sustainability and environmental issues, which are underpinned by the formation of the Vitacress Conservation Trust.


Henry du val de Beaulieu



Graham Roberts

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Martin-Burton-copy.jpgDr Martin Burton

Dr Martin Burton is an independent consultant specialising in water resources, irrigation management and institutional development with over 40 years’ experience in some 32 countries.  He has an international reputation in the fields of water management, performance assessment, benchmarking, asset management and institutional development. Over the last 15 years Dr Burton has worked primarily as a consultant to the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).   During his 15 years at the Institute of Irrigation and Development Studies, University of Southampton, Dr Burton worked on several research projects related to Hampshire’s water resources, including two irrigation studies for Vitacress Salads.  He worked as a volunteer with the Hampshire Water Partnership (HWP) from 2003 onwards and was appointed Chair from May 2007-June 2008.  He later organised the 6th Hampshire Water Festival in Romsey for the HWP and oversaw the holding of two subsequent festivals at Staunton Country Park in Havant.  Dr Burton has been an active member of the Upper Itchen Initiative since it’s inception.  He has written over 50 papers and is the author of the book “Irrigation Management: Principles and Practices” and co-author of a book on performance assessment of irrigation and drainage schemes. Since 2016 he has run a module on management of irrigation schemes for Master’s students at the UNESCO-IHE university in Delft, Holland.


Comments are closed.