Glasshouse extension ensures Cheshire tomato growing site is 'modernised' and 'more resilient' for the future

CambridgeHOK have completed a 1.4 hectares extension to a Cheshire tomato growing glasshouse – returning to site 10 years after building the initial 2 hectares facility.

The project for Frank Rudd & Sons, in Over Peover, Knutsford, was completed and handed over within six months of it being commissioned.

The extension provides a ‘modernised’ facility for the family business, which was established in 1939 and is now run by a third generation, supplying cherry vine and plum tomatoes directly to supermarkets and local retailers and wholesalers.

The full turnkey project saw the CambridgeHOK team complete all civils work on site and design and build the Venlo style glasshouse extension.

This included thermal screens in the roof system, full heating, irrigation and control systems, and growing gutters which are suspended about a metre off the ground.

An onsite lagoon was also created next to the new extension from which rainwater is harvested, stored and pumped into the glasshouse to water the plants when required.

‘Efficient, modern, resilient facility’

Louis Bradley, joint managing director of CambridgeHOK said: “We are proud to have an order book at CambridgeHOK which pretty much always has previous customers in it who have come back to us to either modify or extend their operations.

“In this case we have done both for Frank Rudd & Sons, and ultimately provided them with a really efficient, modern new extension to their business which benefits from many advancements in technology since we built the original glasshouse.

“Key aspects of the project are the heating system being powered by an onsite gas CHP system, with CO2 from the gas power being redirected into the greenhouses to improve crop production and yield, and the addition of the onsite lagoon to harvest rainwater and supply the irrigation system.

“This has not only brought about improvements in the sustainability of the facility, but also importantly made it more resilient, as previously they had using boreholes only for their water supply, which despite the significant levels of rain we have had, is not always reliable.”

Mr Bradley said he was delighted that the project had been completed on schedule and in budget, with teams working under tight hygiene controls to protect the plants already growing in the existing facility.

“In any project where you are building on a working site you have to plan carefully and be mindful of the environment, but this was particularly so given the threat to tomatoes of viruses, so this meant detailed planning, and our team following strict protocols at all times. This was all successfully managed.”

Unlike traditional tomato growing, Frank Rudd & Sons innovative approach plants suspended about three feet in the air and grown hydroponically in a growing medium, growing up and along high wires several meters in the air. The site is able to grow tomatoes for 11 months of the year.

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