I recently visited The Lettuce Company based in Upper Stoke to see their work and contribution to the UK’s agricultural economy and hear their need to maintain seasonal workers in the long-term. It was a pleasure to receive a tour the farm and meet the staff who help make everything work smoothly for over 65 years.
Agriculture has been an important industry in Rochester and Strood – and more widely for Kent and the South East. Hoo Peninsula is home to a number of important growers such as The Lettuce Company and AC Goatham & Son’s, which grows some of the best apples and pears in the UK.
Our local agricultural businesses and farmers do wonderful work to drive innovation and supply the rest of the country and beyond with quality produce. For instance, The Lettuce Company grows and harvests ten million bunches of salad onions each year across farmland stretching from Grain all the way down to Swanley.
But to continue to contribute to our local and national economy our growers and harvesters need access to the seasonal workers that assist during the most crucial times. While local season workers have declined, European workers have stepped in to fill the void which growers now heavily rely upon each year to undertake the skilled fruit picking. Each year, thousands of these seasonal workers come to Medway and the surrounding areas but again we are seeing a slight decline.
Having grown up around Upnor I have a deep respect for our local farmers and growers and I am determined to see their valuable position maintained in our community. In Parliament I will be supporting our local agriculture sector by highlighting their huge economic and environmental importance and ensuring they can continue to access sufficient numbers of seasonal workers after Brexit.