Ornamentals grower Allensmore Nurseries of Herefordshire has landed a gold medal in the International Grower of the Year (IGOTY) awards, winning the top prize for the sustainability of its production methods.
The judging panel was particularly impressed by the way environmentally and socially sustainable approaches were central to all the company’s decision-making, said Allensmore’s business development director Geoff Caesar.
“It was a really great boost to get this award, and particularly as a recognition for the staff,” he said.
“Everyone here just works this way, but it’s a way of working that is commercially viable and efficient as well.”
Sustainable approaches specifically highlighted in the company’s awards entry included the fact that all water is collected and recycled from the growing beds. It’s treated through a system of ditches, lined with bulrush and iris, and basic mechanical filtration before reuse.
Solar panels have been installed on the warehouse roof and electric vehicles are used throughout the nursery. Pests and diseases are controlled by biological methods as much as possible and an intensive peat-reduction programme has been implemented.
“We are already down to 35% peat content [in media] and aim to be peat-free by 2026,” said Mr Caesar.
Staff are closely involved with managing conservation areas on site as well as working with local schools.
“Everything we have learned about sustainability over the years has been incorporated in plans for expanding our outdoor beds by 70ha for container rose production,” said Mr Caesar. The company is awaiting planning permission but hopes these will be constructed in time to be in production this autumn.
The 56ha nursery includes 14,000sq m of glass and 23,800sq m of polytunnels. It supplies bedding plants, perennials and hardy nursery stock to independent garden centres, supermarkets and DIY multiples. It employs up to 150 staff.
The IGOTY award is run by the International Association of Horticultural Producers. This year’s overall winner was Brookdale Treeland Nurseries in Canada.
Read more news and features from the protected crop industry in our monthly publication The Commercial Greenhouse Grower.