Benn visited Varfell Farm to see Agapanthus and Dahlia growing in the field, its bulb packaging process and its environmental schemes such as tackling silt run-off from the fields.
He then moved onto the Tregothnan estate to visit tea plantation and see manuka honey production — the first outside New Zealand, and finally to the Eden Project.
He said: "I'm really impressed by what I've seen at Winchester Growers — the care, the professionalism, the quality of the product. I know it's been affected by the recession because it is effectively a discretionary purchase.
"It's a chance to see what's happening and some of the cutting-edge work that's being done. I am particularly impressed [with Winchester Growers] by the way the problem of silt was addressed — putting in ponds and a reed bed — and the way in which the firm is dealing with the reduction of pesticide and insecticide use."
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