Lewis Hollingsworth

Lewis Hollingsworth

Horticultural Technician

Lewis' job title is Horticulturalist at the John Innes Centre

What I do

I am part of a team who look after thousands of plants at the John Innes Centre. We look after plants in aid of scientific research. I spend a lot of my time making the perfect compost, replenishing the in-house seed store, so basically preserving all the lines of plants, including wheat, oats and even peas for future generations and I take care of the plants in our on-site glasshouses and polytunnels.

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How I became a technician

A typical day in my
working life

A little more about
my everyday role

What I love most about my job

Working in a team and the variation of the work are what I love the most. At some times of the year, you are bogged down with one particular thing that needs to get done, but there is a huge variety, like maintenance of the plants and keeping the environment clean. There is also seasonal change.

The best bits about working in a team

Since I have taken over the responsibility for soil mixing, I have worked alongside my colleague, who has worked here since 1969! It is nice to hear how things have changed and evolved.

The most exciting thing I’ve achieved so far in my job

I have been involved in a big project with a seed bank that we have on site called the Germplasm Resource Unit (GRU) that is being replenished. This has been running for a few years and is still ongoing. It has taken up a lot of the polytunnel space, and there is a lot of responsibility to make sure the plants are happy in order that the seeds needed to replenish supplies are available. There is a lot of seed from the 1970s and beyond that was grown back in the day to eliminate certain diseases. It is fascinating that they still exist in seed form.

What I wear to work

The area I work in is quite low-risk. Although some plants get sterilised, the plants that we grow tend to end up on the compost. When I do chemical spraying, I have to wear PPE, rubber wellies, white suit, mask and rubber gloves as a precaution, to make sure I am protected from the chemicals.

What I do to relax

I have started going to the gym, and I have to stick to that! I enjoy gardening, even outside of work. My parents have moved in with my nan and I am gradually redoing their garden, to make it nice for all of them.

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