Growers and glasshouse businesses in the Lea Valley take centre stage in a new film, showcasing this vital horticultural growing area and the people who work there.
The 23 minute film has been produced by Lea Valley Growers Association, 60 years after the last film, Sea of Glass, was made.
LVGA Secretary Lee Stiles said: “We wanted to create a living archive this time, featuring interviews with the growers themselves for the first time. The film reflects what the industry feels at this time, particularly around Brexit, and about growers’ concerns for the future.
“Provision of labour was one of the issues highlighted by pretty much everyone in the film, as the Lea Valley needs around 2,000 staff a year just to maintain existing facilities.
“We have been asking Europeans to come and work in the glasshouses since the 1950s and, without them, many businesses would have to scale back production or consider relocating. Robotics and artificial intelligence for actually picking the crop is still decades away so this is one of the real issues we are facing at the moment.
“But the film is also very much a celebration of an area that is the cucumber capital of England, that is hugely important for pepper, tomato and ornamental growing and which is producing more food than ever before with the help of cutting-edge technology.”
The LVGA hopes the film will help to recruit staff to the industry and offer an insight for government and its agencies of the incredible value of horticultural production in the Lea Valley and its potential for growth with government support.
Lee Stiles said: ““We have a great opportunity to displace about 40% of British food imports by investing in British growers, by investing in infrastructure and technology to get more from less.”
Growers interviewed for the film include Joe Colletti, chairman of Glinwell Plc, Paz Milazzo of UK Salads, Steve Cornwell of MBJSC Produce Ltd, Paul Rochford of Joseph Rochford Gardens, Jimmy Russo, chairman of the VGS and VGN group, and Edward Udyanskyy of Essex Growers Ltd.
For more information:
Lea Valley Growers Association