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12 October, 2017 - 11:50 By Kate Sweeney

AgriTech grant helps nursery grow

Christine Howard Marcel Willems

A Suffolk nursery is investing in growing its own business with the help of a grant from The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative.

Howard Nurseries is a wholesale supplier of plants to garden centres, garden designers and local authorities in the UK and abroad, counting Sandringham Flower Show among its clients and achieving a gold award at the 2015 Chelsea Flower Show. It produces more than two million plants a year in over 1,500 different varieties from its 170-acre site at Wortham.

The next stage in the company’s expansion will see it take plant label printing in-house, enabling the nursery to produce bespoke labels for customers.

The project cost of £60,000 has been reached thanks to a £15,000 growth grant from The Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative, helping pay for a new professional printer and associated training.

The new technology replaces Howard’s current labelling system that is deemed as old fashioned and in recent years has resulted in the loss of potential new customers. It also avoids having to outsource to Europe for expensive professional plant labels.

The business currently employs 45 people and anticipates adding to its workforce due to increased orders in the future. 

Mark Reeve, chairman of the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative Board and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership said: “Horticulture is an important industry in the East of England and we are pleased to be supporting a cutting-edge scheme that through investment will lead the way in modernising how plants are labelled in the UK – in turn generating customers, growth, jobs and preventing business losses as a result of European outsourcing.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Christine Howard, director and Marcel Willems, operations manager at Howard Nurseries

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