The Lea Valley is often described as
the Cucumber Capital of Britain or London's Salad Bowl, producing around 75% of Britains Cucumbers, Sweet Peppers & Aubergines.
Ideally situated just 20 miles from
Piccadilly Circus in Central London.
500 Million Cucumbers & Sweet
Salad Peppers are grown every year along with Tomatoes, Aubergines, Lettuce, Herbs, Flowers, Trees, Shrubs, Aquatic & Bedding Plants in around 3450 acres of Glasshouses stretching From London,
Essex, Hertfordshire, Middlesex & Cambridgeshire to Yorkshire.
Environment Secretary commits to sustainable horticulture
Lea Valley Growers Association response
It sounds as though the Environment Secretary has already given up on Small British Family growing businesses like those
It seems odd that if the Environment Secretary had concerns about Cucumbers,
he would have visited the Cucumber Capital of Britain in the Lea Valley.
The announcement is without indication of any support for existing growers with Energy alternatives, Labour shortages or rising Input costs, British growing Business are already closing and
announcements today based on the robots of tomorrow are simply sci-fi fantasy for many British growers.
During the Secretary of States visit to Holland he would have seen Dutch Glasshouse infrastructure & technology that British Growers have been using for decades.
He would have seen a Dutch Horticultural sector that benefits from Dutch government subsidies & European Union CAP funding, a sector without restrictions on the freedom of movement of
workers and a sector that exports over 90% of the produce it grows.
The Defra Automation in Horticulture review reports that Commercially viable Robots are unlikely to be available before the end of the Decade with a focus on harvesting robotics.
Consideration has not been given to other work such as laying the slabs on the hanging gutters, placing the young plants onto the slabs, fixing the drippers into the growing media, twisting the
plant around the strings, managing the laterals, de-leafing the plant, placing beneficial insects into the crop, checking for pest & Disease.
The reality is that these tasks do not have a robotic focus and will require human intervention for decades to come at a time when the government plans to end the seasonal workers scheme in
If the government wants cheap healthy food for the country, they have an opportunity to help British Growers increase the UK’s Fresh Produce self sufficiency and food security beyond the current
25% figure in the following ways.
- Introduce a scheme that rewards food production rather than previous land area based schemes.
- Introduce an infrastructure grant scheme that will allow growers to renew their glasshouses and technology.
- Introduce a renewable energy grant for Geothermal/Ground source heat that will allow growers to move away from Fossil fuels.
- Make the Seasonal workers scheme a permanent scheme and increase the amount of workers to 100,000 in anticipation of an expanding sector. This will give confidence to growers to increase their
- Introduce legislation to ban the sale of Fresh Produce at less than the purchase price, therefore protecting growers from retailer campaign pressure that has previously driven some out of
Nothing in this announcement gives any confidence to Lea Valley Glasshouse growers looking to plant next year.
If the Secretary of State cannot visit the Cucumber Capital of Britain, we would suggest that he watches BBC One next Friday (21st October 7:30pm “We are England” Our Family Cucumber Farm) which
follows Lea Valley Cucumber Grower Tony try and save his third generation family Cucumber business https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001d85j