Innovative fruit grower ‘thrilled’ after scooping horticultural award
PUBLISHED: 14:14 05 July 2018
Julian Dodd/Boxford (Suffolk) Farms
An innovative fruit grower on the Suffolk/Essex border said it was “thrilled” after scooping a national accolade for its efforts to build the business.
Family-run Boxford (Suffolk) Farms at Stoke-by-Nayland, which is celebrating its 80th year, took the Soft Fruit Grower of the Year title at the Horticulture Week National Awards at a ceremony in London on June 28.
Judges cited the company’s long-term business strategy and innovation-led vision, resulting in a remarkable year-on-year growth in turnover of 30%, as key factors contributing to the win.
Established in 1938, the farm business grows 250 hectares of fruit and, together with sister companies Peake Fruit and Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, employs up to 600 staff. It specialises in strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, cherries and asparagus. It has gained a reputation for delivering high value, quality fruit at key periods of the year – most notably on the shoulders of the seasons - and supplies major retailers Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
Chief executive Susanna Rendall, a second generation family member, said: “We’re thrilled to have received this recognition from the judges. These are very challenging times in our industry, and we have invested significantly in technology and new growing techniques to remain competitive.
“As a business we are also always looking ahead for innovations in fruit production and this award will help spur us on to greater achievements. Fruit growing has been at the heart of our family business in Suffolk for 80 years and we, and our brilliant team of staff, still have the same passion and pride in our farm as our parents did when they started farming here in the late 1930s.”
With the uncertainties which lie ahead, it was “imperative” that the sector continues to have access to enough seasonal workers to harvest fruit, she said. “This will also enable us to stay competitive with our EU counterparts so that consumers can continue to have the choice to buy British rather than resort only to imports.”
Environmental and technological innovation has been a key driver for the family business. The development of heated glasshouses and table-top production has helped improve efficiency and extend the growing season to allow for fruit production in ‘shoulder’ months.