Tributes have been paid to a pioneering watercress farmer from Dorset.

Charles Barter, who has passed away aged 78 after a short illness, was a former managing director of The Watercress Company, which has a farm at Waddock Cross near Dorchester.

Mr Barter's relationship with watercress began in the 1930s when his father, Leonard, established the Golden Springs Watercress Farm in Tincleton, Dorset, where Mr Barter began fully working in the 1960s. 

By the 1980s Mr Barter had taken over  the business and formed a partnership with Peter Mills. 

Mr Barter loved to toy with machinery, developing equipment that at the time was cutting edge technology and which is now commonplace across the industry. 

He was also the first watercress grower to explore the possibility of establishing farms in Spain. He began trials in the late 1980s on land in Jerez and went on to found Royalcress SA to help secure year-round supplies of watercress for the British market.

In 1994, Mr Barter sold the B&M watercress packing factory business in Alresford (later known as Alresford Salads) to Peter Old, an old friend from Dorset, resulting in the creation of The Watercress Company.

Mr Barter was the managing director from 1994 until 2007 after which he remained an active director until his death. 

He is very fondly remembered by all who worked with him. His management style meant that he knew when to delegate, encouraging people to find their own way, allowing both them, and the business, to develop and flourish; under his tenure The Watercress Company secured 60 to 70 per cent of the UK watercress market.

Mr Barter was a member of the NFU Watercress Association for more than 50 years and for several of those held the chairmanship. 

During this time, he helped to drive change within the industry, being closely involved with the seed breeding programme which vastly improved the yield and production of crops; he supervised the development of a watercress code of practice which culminated in a DEFRA-funded and recognised Industry Guide to Good Hygiene Practice to ensure the safe and reliable production of watercress. 

Latterly Mr Barter successfully campaigned for watercress to be given traditional speciality guaranteed (TSG) status, gaining recognition of, and protection for, the unique traditional method of growing watercress in flowing spring water.

He was also a founding member of the Watercress Alliance, a marketing body funded by The Watercress Company, Vitacress, and Bakkavor.

Mr Barter remained a key figure on the festival committee, helping it to run smoothly every year, and was a judge on the Watercress Food Awards, valiantly testing entries for their watercress content.

He leaves behind his wife, Bridget, children Louise and Julian and four grandchildren.