Supermarkets come in for occasional criticism on these pages, but a West Pinchbeck grower has one to thank for the success of his business.
James Cole, of E M Cole Farms, has been supplying flowers to Tesco since the 1990s.
James, the third generation of his family to run the farm, grows tulips, scented stocks, asters and Oriental lilies for the supermarket giant.
While supermarkets come in for “a lot of flack”, James says they actively push UK grown flowers and produce.
He adds: “We couldn’t have had this business without their help. They are hard work, like all supermarkets, but we get on well with them. We supply them good quality and in return they have stuck with us.”
James’s grandfather Eric began the business in 1927 and when Ivor, James’s father, took over, he put in a lot of work and was active in the business until 2004.
The business supplied wholesale markets until the switch to supermarkets. The 300-acre farm plus 18,500 sq metre of glasshouses employs 15 regular staff, boosted to up to 40 at busy times.
This difficult growing season has put the glasshouse production behind a week, reduced aster yields by 30 to 40 per cent and increased the risk of disease in plants.
Glasshouse environment is controlled by computers which govern shading, heat conservation, humidity and ventilation.
James says Tesco’s quality standards and cool chain through the supply chain ensures quality and gives a much better vase life.