Tributes have been paid from across the Channel to expert plantsman John Jemmett, who created close working ties between vegetable growers in Brittany and Cornwall.

Mr Jemmett, who has died aged 98, was the driving force behind a co-operative relationship which led to a number of significant and mutually-beneficial improvements in the realm of vegetable growing, particularly cauliflowers – a major crop both in Cornwall and on the intensively-farmed Leonard peninsula south of Roscoff.

For many years Mr Jemmett was based at Seal-Hayne, near Newton Abbot, the UK’s only purpose-built agricultural college until its closure in 2005, and later established his own seed supply business in north Devon.

But it will be for the cross-channel links he established, and the plant improvement work he carried out that he will be most remembered.

Mr Jemmett first saw an opportunity for a mutually-beneficial development programme more than 40 years ago soon after a Breton farmers’ cooperative had set up Brittany Ferries to gain better access to UK markets via the Plymouth to Roscoff route

At one time he was believed to hold the record for the most number of crossings as he pioneered improved growing techniques in both communities.

Among the innovations he was responsible for, apart from selective breeding to create more robust and productive strains, was the growing of young cauliflowers in small pots to ensure better establishment.

Raymond Grall, former head of the technical section of Cerafel Bretagne, the Morlaix-based growers’ organisation said John’s enthusiasm had inspired everyone he met.

“He was a great one for sharing knowledge and expertise,” he said.

“He really did work tirelessly in the field of plant breeeding, seeing opportunities which others perhaps had overlooked and throwing himself into turning them into genuinely beneficial improvements.

“Sir Christopher Wren’s tomb in St Paul’s bears the message ‘If you seek his monument look around you’.

“In the same way the present-day farmed landscape of Brittany is John’s memorial.”