Saturday, 19 January 2013
A fourth greenhouse at Thanet
Since it opened in 2009 with three greenhouses
constructed and operational, Thanet Earth has
managed to negotiate its way through difficult
times in the industry and in the economy at
It has made great progress financially, moving from
large losses in year one towards a modest profit in
year three. The future’s looking even brighter now
as the development’s partners are able to announce
that construction and planting have been completed
on the long-awaited fourth greenhouse. Its young
tomato plants will be bearing fruit by Easter.
The growers at Thanet Earth produce consistently great quality tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for the
UK’s best-known retail shelves. The site has proven its ability to grow tomatoes 52 weeks of the year and
boasts the longest UK seasons on cucumbers and peppers. This is all credit to the original vision of the
project partners, their state of the art greenhouses and the expertise in every function. It’s all supported one
of the most efficient packhouses in operation in the UK.
The demand for crops grown at Thanet Earth is huge. The site’s partners know their product excels in
quality against every competitor in benchmarking samples. Through the winter in particular, to be able to
offer UK-grown tomatoes which far exceed the quality that the finest growers in ‘seasonal’ areas of Europe
can offer (and which carry a lower carbon footprint than all other international sources) makes the Thanet
Earth proposition unique. The UK’s shoppers want locally grown food. They care about what’s written on
the label, and the Thanet Earth crops are fulfilling a very real demand.
The fourth greenhouse covers approximately 8 hectares, and will be dedicated to tomato production. The
cost of construction (including its Combined Heat & Power infrastructure and its link to the site electrical
substation) has been some £17 million. The greenhouse is owned jointly by the project partners (Fresca
Group, Rainbow UK, A&A Growers and Kaaij UK), and will be managed on a day-to-day basis by Gert van
Straalen of tomato specialist Kaaij UK.
This exciting development phase is important not only to the Thanet Earth site but to the local economy and
community. Since its inception the site has provided an important source of work and has become a notable
local landmark that represents significant inward investment in an area with an identified need for
regeneration and new industry. Since 2009 the site has paid over £28 million in wages alone with over 71%
remaining in the immediate Thanet area. The new greenhouse now provides employment and seasonal
work opportunities for approximately 100 more people, bringing the total to 600 people at the height of the
As withthe original three greenhouses, this new production facility will make use of rainwater capture and
biological pest control to maintain the site’s top tier environmental credentials. It will also increase the electricity generating capacity of the site overall to 20MW from the 15MW it is able to generate today using
its CHP technology.
Gert van Straalen, the grower who’ll be looking
after the crops in the new greenhouse, is proud to
see years of planning come to fruition.
“We know from experience that this site is very
special and has all the qualities we look for in
greenhouse food production. It’s a great landmark
for us and for Thanet to have driven our plans
forward to this point. We can’t wait to begin