With a lot of hard work doing mostly retail trade, work gradually increased, and Mr Johnson had to employ extra staff.
Mr Johnsons first recorded commercial order was from the Forestry Commission, where 100,000 one year beech seedlings were sold.
Soon after the large order, Mr Johnson’s accountant advised turning the business into a limited company, so E R Johnson (Nurseries) Limited was born.
1951 – John’s dad, Architect George Kenneth Richardson, designed a bungalow for his in-laws who wanted to downsize from their original farmhouse in Carlton. John and his family rejuvenated the farmhouse and moved in, giving John daily access to the farm, which became the focus of his life.
The farm had a mixture of animals, cereal crops, a range of vegetables and 200 acres of field-grown rhubarb, which was part of the ‘rhubarb triangle’ in West Yorkshire.
John enjoyed going to Leeds wholesale and vegetable markets with the lorry during school holidays, he would also go to markets in Birmingham and Manchester.
The farm is still owned by the Dobson family and is currently run by Simon Dobson. It is now a principal supplier of fresh vegetables to ASDA and Morrisons in the north of England.
1954 – At the age of 16, John took his O-levels, passing Geography, French, arithmetic, English language and woodwork. John applied for a one-year course at Askham Bryan College, but the principal suggested he apply to Writtle College in Essex for a two-year diploma course.
1955– After a year working on the farm, John started at Writtle college at 18. He was the youngest on the course out of 24 men and two women.
1957 – On leaving college, John wanted wider experience in vegetable and salad production and joined a firm owned by one of the Bean brothers at Brough in East Yorkshire. He rented two overgrown allotments at no charge. Once he cleaned them up, he grew spring onions which he sent to Hull market.
1958 –John moved to Surrey in September to work on the specialist market garden of F A Secrett Limited for three years. John had six months lorry driving to Covent Garden wholesale vegetable market. He would have to hand load either 5 tons of spent hops from the Guinness brewery in North London or horse manure from the Royal Mews beneath Buckingham Palace on his return journey.
1961 –John joined Fisons as a commercial representative for horticulture in Scotland, promoting fertilizers to growers of all commercial horticultural crops.
John proposed to Dorothy at Christmas 1961; they bought their first house four miles from Dorothy’s hometown of Boness.
1962 – John married Dorothy on September 8th 1962, in Boness, Scotland.
John was doing exceptionally well in his sales career, winning a company prize for exceeding the target by the highest percentage (122%).
1963 – John’s wife Dorothy gives birth to Andrew Richardson at Edinburgh Western General.