Jun 24, 2021
Shenandoah Growers hires Tessa Pocock as chief science officer

Shenandoah Growers, Inc. recently announced that Tessa Pocock joined the company as chief science officer on June 22.

She will report to Shenandoah Growers Chief Technology Officer Ulf Jönsson and serve on the company’s executive leadership team, according to a news release from the company. Her predecessor, Robert Hoffman, is transitioning to the title of “CSO Emeritus.”

Founded in 1989, Shenandoah Growers is based in Rockingham, Virginia. The company markets itself as “the leading grower and marketer of fresh organic culinary herbs in the United States,” and provides USDA certified organic, regionally grown produce to retailers coast-to-coast, according to the news release. Shenandoah Growers grows in greenhouses using soil, and claims “the nation’s largest commercial indoor organic growing systems.”

Pocock brings decades of experience in plant lighting and physiological research as well as indoor agricultural management to Shenandoah Growers, according to the news release. She has held a variety of roles in academia and in the controlled environment agriculture sector, most recently as director of lighting optimization at Plenty Unlimited Inc. Pocock holds a Ph.D. in environmental stress biology and Master’s degrees in plant biochemistry and biology from Western University (formerly, The University of Western Ontario).

“Tessa is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost lighting and plant biology experts. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome her to our proven management team of biologists, technologists and operators,” Shenandoah Growers President Philip Karp said in the news release. “As Shenandoah Growers enters our next phase of transformational growth, Tessa will bring an invaluable perspective, expertise and vision on plant-driven intelligent grow systems to ensure we are well-positioned to capitalize on unmet market demand for sustainable, accessible and organic herbs and produce.”

Pocock and Jönsson, an agronomy and horticulture technology expert, have set an ambitious agenda for Shenandoah Growers, according to the news release. Priorities include continuing to refine plant-intelligent lighting algorithms and technology to further reduce unit costs and boost energy efficiency; commercializing new crops to reach underserved markets; and continuing to optimize and expand the company’s portfolio of intellectual property, including its proprietary closed-loop nutrient regeneration technology, which enables the production of efficient, low-cost and organic nitrogen for plants.

Pocock said in the release that she was excited about the new job and “attracted to the company’s ‘biology first, technology to scale’ mentality, and look forward to working closely with the team to continue to optimize our industry-leading indoor organic farms, world-class R&D and data-driven lighting programs; all aligned with the approach of bringing nature indoors.”

The company recently announced another strategic hire, Cameron Geiger as Chief Operating Officer. Geiger brings decades of senior experience in technology and end-to-end supply chain roles to the Shenandoah Growers Executive Leadership Team.

Karp has been named as a panelist for an indoor produce discussion panel at the Organic Produce Summitt September 15-16 in Monterey, California.

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