Princess Royal visits huge new glasshouse at Valley Grown Nurseries in Lea Valley
PUBLISHED: 08:41 26 January 2017
The Princess Royal visited a new glasshouse in Nazeing, Essex, which is the largest built in the Lea Valley since the 1950s.
She toured Valley Grown Nurseries on Wednesday with co-owners Vince and Jimmy Russ, who explained how they were investing in the nursery to increase production of top quality sweet peppers and tomatoes for British consumers.
She also got to see the packing and grading area, where automated trolleys are used to bring produce out of the glasshouses.
The Princess Royal unveiled a commemorative plaque and signed the same Lea Valley Growers’ Association visitors book that her grandmother, The Queen Mother, signed when she visited the Lea Valley in June 1959.
She also met nursery managers and workers and invited guests, including National Farmers’ Union (NFU) president Meurig Raymond, Essex County Council chairman Councillor John Aldridge, and Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst.
Vince Russo said they were “pleased” and “honoured” to host the visit.
“Her visit allowed us to demonstrate how we are investing in the latest technology and techniques to grow sweet peppers and tomatoes with the best quality and maximum shelf life to the British consumer, he said.
“She appeared to be genuinely interested in the growing process, including finding out more about the automation we have introduced throughout the new glasshouse.”
Lea Valley Growers Association secretary Lee Stiles said: “This new glasshouse represents an exciting development for the Lea Valley and we were delighted to have the opportunity to tell Her Royal Highness all about it today,” he said.
“Much has changed since the Queen Mother’s visit almost 60 years ago, but one thing that has remained constant is the enthusiasm and commitment of our growers to produce the best quality fresh food for the British public.”
The Lea Valley has about 300 acres of specialist glasshouses.
It is the UK’s largest cucumber producer, accounting for 80 million sticks a year, and grows half of its sweet peppers, at 70 million a year.
It also produces tomatoes, aubergines, lettuce, baby leaf salads and herbs, as well as ornamental crops.