Charles Barter Obituary – A well-known name in the British watercress business was Charles Barter. The Alresford Watercress Committee is saddened to report that he passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. Leonard, Charles’ father, founded Golden Springs Watercress Farm in Tincleton, Dorset, in the 1930s. Charles first started working there in the 1960s. Since the 1930s, Charles’ family has owned and operated a watercress business.
He fully took over running the business in the 1980s and started his own company with Peter Mills as a partner. Soon after, B&M opened a packing facility in Alresford, Hampshire (later known as Alresford Salads) to offer customers watercress that had been effectively packaged. He developed some ground-breaking tools that were ahead of their time but are now regarded as standard equipment in their field because he had a passion for tinkering with machines.
Charles was also the first in the watercress farming industry to look into the possibility of setting up farms in Spain. He started testing on land in Jerez in the late 1980s, and he later established Royalcress SA with the goal of aiding in the preservation of year-round supplies of watercress for the British market. After Charles sold the B&M company in 1994 to an old friend from Dorset named Peter Old, The Watercress Company was founded. The company was established as a result of this transaction.
Charles held the position of medical director from 1994 to 2007, after which he remained an active director until his death. Everyone who had the chance to work with him has nothing but positive memories of him. Thanks to his management style, which included knowing when to delegate tasks to subordinates and encouraging them to come up with their own solutions to problems on their own, The Watercress Company was able to corner between 60 and 70% of the market for watercress in the United Kingdom under his direction.
Charles served as the NFU Watercress Association’s chairman on several occasions over the course of his more than 50-year membership. He oversaw the creation of a watercress code of practice, which led to the publication of an Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice, which was funded and recognized by DEFRA. During this time, he actively participated in the seed breeding program that significantly increased crop yield and production, which helped to propel change within the industry.
Additionally, he played a significant role in the seed breeding program, which significantly increased crop yield and production. Charles later spearheaded a successful effort to have watercress recognized as a Traditional Seed Grower, which led to the legal recognition of the distinctive, age-old practice of growing watercress in flowing spring water. Charles was also a founding member of the Watercress Alliance, a marketing organization supported by Vitacress, Bakkavor, and The Watercress Company.
In order to boost watercress sales, which had fallen to an all-time low by the end of the 1990s, the Watercress Alliance was founded in 2002. With the slogan “Not Just a Bit on the Side,” the Watercress Alliance was able to revive the watercress industry’s fortunes. As a result, there is a resurgence in interest in the salad leaf, and the Watercress Alliance was honored at the Institute of Public Relations’ annual awards ceremony.
The Watercress Alliance funded groundbreaking scientific studies that showed the anti-cancer effects of the PEITC compound, which gives watercress its distinct peppery flavor. Watercress’ status as a superfood was also restored by the creation of new recipes that expanded its range of applications and by the founding of the 19th annual Watercress Festival in Alresford. Charles continued to play a significant role on the festival committee, where he was in charge of making sure everything went off without a hitch every year.
Additionally, he was a judge for the Watercress Food Awards, where he meticulously assessed entries according to how much watercress they contained. Charles received The Winchester Millennium Egg Award in 2014 as a token of appreciation from the Winchester City Council. This honor recognizes significant contributions to the regional economy and is Winchester’s equivalent of the “Lifetime Achievement” Oscar. This honor is given to local people and groups who have consistently and significantly improved the district’s economic health over the course of their careers.
Charles expressed how happy he was to have it. Additionally, he actively participated in and was a big supporter of the parish council’s work in Dorset, where he lived. The importance of Charles’ contribution to the revival of the watercress industry’s fortunes cannot be overstated, and his wisdom will be sorely missed. However, he loved spending free time at their Dorset home with his cherished family and engaging in hobbies like gardening and racing cars.
He visited the offices of the Watercress Company just a week before he passed away, showing that he was passionate about watercress right up until the very end.