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06.12.06
Farm company wins world competition

Greville Richards with Southern England Farms' World Grower awardA company based in a small, West Cornwall village has beaten competitors from all over the world in 'the Oscars of the vegetable growing industry'.

Southern England Farms (SEF), whose headquarters are at Leedstown, has been awarded the top prize at the inaugural World Grower Awards. The award is an endorsement of the company's expansion, which is about to continue with a £3.5million project supported by Objective One investment.

At the ceremony, held earlier this month (November) in Amsterdam, SEF won the overall World Grower accolade following a unanimous decision by judges from China, the Netherlands, Colombia and the UK.

The company, which earlier this year took the UK Vegetable Grower of the Year title, beat competitors from all five continents. The judges had been impressed with SEF's rapid development from scratch over an 11 year period and its "commitment and vision in growing into a powerful force in the vegetable production industry in the UK".

SEF's managing director Greville Richards said: "The company is over the moon. These are the Oscars of the vegetable growing industry. SEF had already won the UK award earlier this year which put it in the frame for the international honours."

As well as producing and packing its own vegetables at Leedstown the company has 22 local growers supplying it from all over Cornwall. SEF employs up to 300 people across Cornwall and supplies a number of major UK retailers as well as export customers as far afield as Finland.

"Everything we do is in Cornwall," said Mr Richards. He explained that the company tries to "stretch" the Cornish growing season by starting crops earlier and finishing later in order to offer customers a locally grown fresh product for longer that has less food miles than imported vegetables. SEF are also aware of their environmental responsibilities which he felt had helped in the awards judging process. "Business has been growing at a high rate in the last few years," he added.

This has also meant a sizeable increase in packhouse space needed at Leedstown. To this end £489,000 of Objective One EAGGF (European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund) investment has been approved, with a matching amount from Defra, for a £3.5 million expansion project. The investment will mean the packhouse premises are due to quadruple in size.

David Rodda, Senior Agricultural Co-ordinator for the Cornwall Agricultural Council Development Team, said: "The vision of the Cornwall Agricultural Council is to transform Cornwall into the UK's exemplar agri-food centre of excellence, characterised by innovation, added value, competitive advantage and environmental sustainability. In winning this award SEF have displayed all these qualities and their continued growth is evidence that although farming is often seen as a traditional industry it can make a significant contribution to the economic development of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The SEF team and the 22 growers they work with should be very proud of this achievement."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan, Media Relations Manager for the Objective One Partnership Office on 01872 223439 or email cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Southern England Farms through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

 

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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