Valley Grown Nurseries was originally an acquisition that was made when the business needed to expand its base to include more of its own home grown produce due to the demands of the supermarket.
At times, VGS felt that it needed more control of its own supply and wanted to make 100% sure that at times of extremely high prices and low supply on the open market place the company was not at the mercy of not having enough produce to supply customer needs.
A huge investment was made in the purchase of the site in Paynes Lane in Nazeing and more expense followed in a rebuilding programme over the next few years. With sites over 6 acres difficult to find, the purchase of the Nazeing location made perfect sense. The VGN site is located 1.5 miles from the pack house of VGS which is located in Sedge Green Road, Roydon, Essex.
With the new site came new challenges and the whole experience of being packers and growers had its difficulties, so the company set about recruiting the best individuals to assist in the running of VGN.
Traditionally, all the produce grown at VGN was transferred to be graded and packed at VGS. This was done so that the team at VGN could solely focus on growing the best quality crop in the best environment.
The company has invested in the best of packing machinery with an Aweta fully computerised grader. This will grade on size, colour, weight and shape. The investment for this machinery was in excess of €1 million. This level of investment was necessary to ensure that the process of grading was done 100% correctly.
The company’s focus is always on product safety, growing the best quality and making sure that as much of the crop can be utilised in the packing of product for the supermarket. The company also has several outlets in the wholesale market which it serves on a regular bases.
No expense is spared in making sure that all boxes are ticked in growing the finest quality. The team at VGN also has the daily support from the team at VGS, with both the Technical and Commercial departments having a constant daily interaction.
Planning is crucial; with today’s technology now at VGS we can be fully informed as to what production levels look like going forward week by week. During grading times, we can get updates on what the latest grading figures are looking like.
Today we are delighted with our new site development. We will not become complacent about the standards that have been instilled over many years and we will continue to strive to be the best in our sector.
PACKING LINE MACHINERY WASTE REDUCTION, SHELF LIFE EXTENSION & ENERGY SAVING PROJECT
This project will enable the installation of waste saving & energy efficient packing line machinery reducing the company’s carbon footprint. The machinery is 700% faster than existing lines which reduces energy costs and in addition reduces packaging wastage through intelligent censoring.
The new packaging run on the machine extends the shelf life of the fresh produce (namely Tomatoes, Aubergines and Sweet Salad Peppers) by five days and second class produce is reduced due to less manual handling.
This project is part-funded by The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.