£8,500.00 FUNDED

Nanfan Farm - grading equipment

JP and R Curnow

To purchase and install a coil bed bulb grading system to replace the current jump grading system leading to improvements in the end products.

The epicentre of the world’s daffodil production

After a dark, cold winter, seeing daffodils flowering evokes the promise of spring, and sunshine. Cornwall’s unique climate and local knowledge make it the epicentre of the world’s daffodil production, with acres of field across Cornwall supplying 80% of global daffodil production. Nanfan farm, set in the pretty hamlet of Churchtown in Cury near Helston, has been growing flowers for over 20 years, and has 94 acres of field devoted to daffodils. Reuben Curnow owns the farm, and explains that growing this enduring favourite is a year-round occupation.

The bulbs are lifted out of the ground in June to be cleaned, sterilised and graded, before being returned to the fields in September/October. Depending on the weather, harvesting starts as early as December through to April, when the whole cycle starts again.

LEADER funding helps to extend season and increase turnover
Grading and sorting is a critical phase of the operation, and is now done by a brand-new machine that has been added to the processing line. The machine was purchased with help from a LEADER grant secured through West Cornwall Local Action Group and has made an enormous difference to the efficiency of the process. Reuben said: “We had an old machine that was very noisy and always breaking down, the new machine is a big help and much better for my hearing.”

An important feature of the new machine is that it can grade and sort bulbs by size, which enables Rueben to sell or swap surplus bulbs with other growers for different varieties so that the growing season is extended. “I’ve been able to grade and swap bulbs for varieties that flower later,” he says.

Fifteen varieties are grown at the farm, and having an extended growing season helps to increase turnover. The workforce expands to up to 50 staff between January and April, and a lot of the pickers come back year after year. All the daffodils grown on the farm are sold to Greenyard Flowers in Penzance, and from there they are distributed to supermarkets and all over the UK and Europe.

The new machine has been in place for 18 months and has made the workplace more pleasant, protecting the workers’ hearing, increasing efficiency and improving the quality of the bulbs that get planted back into the ground ready for the new season.

When Christmas is over, look out for the daffodils that start to appear in the shops and, as you enjoy this sign of spring, take a moment to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into growing them.

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