After moving to England in 1968 from Sicily, Tony Faranda started working on his uncles' nursery and began to learn about the growing Industry. Over a few years his experience and interest started to grow whilst working within several nurseries which included working in glasshouses, attending to crops and building the greenhouses from wooded to aluminium. In the 1980’s he bought his first nursery, a 1 acre site of wooden glasshouses in Nazeing, Essex, most of the greenhouses in Nazeing were run by the Italian community. After a few years of hard work and graft he could afford to rebuild the glasshouses and bring them up to date with new aluminium glasshouses. Utilising spare land within the nursery, he also built additional glasshouses increasing the site to 1 1/2 acres. It was a family run business with his wife and 3 daughters helping. As time went by Tony felt this site had been used to its full potential and that a new challenge was awaiting him elsewhere. His dream was to own a decent sized nursery to work within, with the space to move around and to call his own.
In 2005, Tony came across an advert for an 8.6 acre glasshouse (13.9 total acres) site for sale which to him looked to have good potential. However, as appealing as this was to him, he knew it would be a big decision for his family to make this move of over 200 miles away from their family home in Hertfordshire. His family put enormous trust in him and helped him followed his dreams. They took the chance, faced major changes and bought the nursery, making the move to Yorkshire. Together with his wife, daughter Maria and a handful of existing experienced staff gained from the new business venture, they were set to face some new and challenging differences. Tony's daughter Maria, along with Ian Featherstone now manage the nursery, overseeing book keeping procedures, supervision of the pack house and staff within and anywhere else needed. Ian has a wealth of knowledge, over 25 years, of both this nursery and the industry as he was previously employed at Raventhorpe before Tony made the move.
Raventhorpe Nursery produce cucumbers in 8.6 acres of glasshouse, split into 3 blocks A, B and C. A. block is 3 acres with 20,000 plants, B. block is 1.75 acres with 12,000 plants and C. block is 3.5 acres with 23,000 plants. Due to many factors over the past few years the business made the more realistic decision to do 2 crops across the 3 blocks. However, should they see a particular change occurring, a noticeable demand within the crop market or potential that it would be of some benefit from a profitability point of view to plant 3 crops, they would react and make the change.
Since buying the business they have made several changes with the aim to improve operations within the nursery. For example: investing in thermal screens, installing cutting trolley facilities for staff and restructure employees for improved working environments. They have also upgraded from steam to hot water to ensure systems are more up to date.
At the end of 2014 season Raventhorpe Nursery had some big decisions to make due to situations within the industry. One of the major decisions resulted in moving suppliers/distributors and they are pleased to have joined Growco!
Familiarising themselves once again to the demands and needs required of a well-established supplier / distributor has been yet another hard working challenge to face. However, by the end of the season they aim to be in a position to support yet another good season of growth, to declare that the change has been worth every effort and time spent and the best decision the nursery has ever made and why it didn’t happen sooner!