Salad Days at Thanet Earth
10 Mar 2009
Thanet Earth is an exciting, revolutionary horticultural development. When finished it will be the largest eco-friendly glasshouse complex in Britain.
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Thanet Earth is an exciting, revolutionary horticultural development. When finished in 2010, it will be the largest glasshouse complex in Britain. Spanning across 220 acres, it will boast seven greenhouses, each the size of ten football pitches. The venture will increase salad production in the UK by 15 per cent and provide home grown produce all year round, using new high-tech eco-friendly practices.
Three of the greenhouses are already complete, as well as seven vast reservoirs, holding up to 50 million gallons of rain water in total. This allows the site to be self-sufficient from May to September, draining nothing from the local utilities. Seven power stations, using Combined Heat and Power to keep the greenhouses warm, will generate enough electricity as a by-product, to supply 50,000 homes in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. Furthermore, the carbon dioxide emitted on-site is being pumped back into the greenhouses to help the plants grow.
The project represents a UK industry first — a joint venture involving three highly skilled grower organisations and Fresca Group Ltd, the country’s largest privately-owned fresh produce company. Together, they have conceived a highly efficient growing model with exceptional environmental credentials.
The overall sustainability of the site and the supply of product to customers was recently assessed. The key findings were: peppers and cucumbers grown at Thanet Earth will have a lower carbon footprint than those grown by all other alternative sources. Furthermore, the use of Combined Heat and Power actually contributes a negative carbon emission over the site’s total footprint. The power is produced more efficiently than most other forms of UK generation, because it utilises both the heat and electricity produced by the fuel.
The eight week old crop plants, raised exclusively for the project, arrived just before Christmas and were individually transplanted into the new greenhouses. It took the grower companies and their dedicated teams of horticulturalists just four days to complete the task. Peppers and cucumbers will be picked continuously from February through to October, while eight varieties of tomatoes will be harvested every day of the week, for 52 weeks of the year.
For Britain, Thanet Earth is high-tech, greenhouse agriculture on an unprecedented scale — locally grown produce of extremely high quality, state of the art techniques, assimilation lighting, few transport miles and co-generation plants for the production of electricity. Locals estimate that doming the land has also created over 500 jobs and will help make farming in the region more lucrative.
Contact: Fresca Group Ltd, Transfesa Road,
Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6UT
Tel: +44 (0)1892 831595
Photo: courtesy of Thanet Earth
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