R & L Holt is a family business in the historic Vale of Evesham originally formed in 1979 by Rick and Laura Holt and now includes son Roly and daughter Felicity. Roly is the father of twin boys and a member of the nursery football team ‘Sideshoots’ who were finalists in the Growers United Competition 2014.
Rick is a keen pilot and cyclist. It all started with the purchase of Sandylands Nurseries in 1979 which was a typical market gardening site with a mixture of small wooden glasshouses and outdoor field crops.
During the 1980's three glasshouses were built (Tom, Dick and Harry) and another (Fred) later in 1999. In 2004 a 6 acre block was built at Hornsfield Nurseries and in 2009 Springhill Nurseries was constructed and first planted in 2010.
The total glasshouse acreage of the three sites was 22 acres. During 2013 Tom, Dick and Harry were replaced with a state of the art modern block suitable for all year round production. All crops are grown hydroponically using a Nutrient Film Technique.
Originally crops were grown on the ground with a profiled slope but in 2004 they designed the 'NFT hanging gutter.' Now all of the crops are grown on hanging gutters which is a better climate for the plants and easier working height.
This system has been developed further in the last 10 years to maximise the growing potential of the crops. Energy is something that is constantly under review to be more efficient and sustainable and they currently use Combined Heat and Power and Biogas from an Anaerobic Digester facility.
All sites have thermal screens both on top and side which saves energy. For Winter production LED inter-lighting is used which is more efficient on energy and also gives the crop the optimum light spectrum. CO2 goes back into the greenhouses, helping the crop to grow rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere.
Over the last 20 years R & L Holt has worked closely with Evesham Vale Growers who focus on packing and marketing the tomatoes.
Did You Know?
In the UK, we eat 6oz (160g) of fresh tomatoes per person per week. This is the equivalent of two classic British tomatoes per week, or more than 100 per year - very low compared with other European countries, especially those in the Mediterranean region.