Cut flower growers JA Collison & Sons in Terrington St Clement has received a grant in excess of £118,000 to fund new technology which will boost business and create more jobs.
The business based at Tuxhill Farm, has been awarded £118,358 and is one of four projects to benefit from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, which has invested over £300,000 into the agri-tech industry throughout the region.
JA Collison & Sons is one of the largest cut flower growers in the UK with 13 acres of glasshouses and polythene tunnels that allow year-round production of a range of different flowers.
Each year Collison’s produces in excess of 15 million stems of cut flowers under five hectares of glass and polythene tunnels.
The majority of these stems are packed on farm ready for dispatch directly into the retail supply chain.
The funding will be used to purchase, install and commission a fully automatic, robotic flower processing and bunching line.
The machine will improve production efficiency across Collison’s three most labour intensive crops, freeing up staff time to increase production and take on more on-farm packing work to add value to its products.
Ian Collison, from Collison & Son, said: “This funding will make a huge difference to our business, improving our competitiveness against imported flowers.
“It will free up staff and resources for increased production, more on farm packing and value adding.
“We are a growing business in a developing market sector and this grant will allow us to make the most of opportunities to expand our business and create employment.
“It will also offer our existing staff new skills and challenges and enable us to reward them for their hard work in getting us to where we are today.
“Horticulture in the UK needs to keep investing in new technology such as this to maintain efficiency and competitiveness and it is fantastic to be supported in taking our business forward in this way.”
Mark Reeve, chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We are pleased to be providing grant funding to such a wide range of projects that will ensure that our local area remains at the cutting-edge of the agri-tech industry.”