The Thanet Earth Centre of Excellence @ Hadlow College

JUNE 2024

The Thanet Earth Centre of Excellence @ Hadlow College is a groundbreaking partnership between ourselves, leading industry grower Thanet Earth, and research and innovation organisation Growing Kent & Medway.

The Centre is based at our state-of-the-art glasshouse and is the UK’s first centre of excellence in greenhouse growing.

Aiming to inspire and train the next generation of UK commercial horticulturists, the Centre connects students with leading businesses from the greenhouse sector, promising to bring a new generation of skilled workers to protect the future of UK-grown fresh produce.

The facility plays an integral part in horticulture courses at the College and features cutting edge technology, including:

  • Suspended gutters running hydroponics for the tomatoes.
  • LED and high-pressure sodium lighting.
  • Vertical growing farm.
  • Latest environmental control computers – PRIVA.
  • Fogging systems for plant misting.
  • Dedicated space for individual glasshouse research.
  • Outdoor standing down beds for shrub and herbaceous plant production.
  • New structures for seasonal bedding plant production.

Students work alongside practitioners from Thanet Earth to develop their skills and produce hydroponic tomatoes.

Find out more about what life is like as a Horticulture student at Hadlow College here.

Hadlow students in front of glasshouse

The tomatoes are grown on a rockwool system using industry standard practices. Scissor lifts are employed to allow students under supervision to work on the crop at height to carry out all the necessary cultural requirements of the crop. Biological control is used to control any unwanted pests, these are populations of beneficial insects.

The Venlo glasshouse is operated using PRIVA environmental control computers which also control the vertical growing farm where students grow a range of salad crops from seed and harvested as micro leaves in as little as three weeks for some crops.

A misting unit is also built into the glasshouse for the propagation of a wide range of plants from both stem cuttings and seeds with the aim of these finished plants being sold at pop-up plant sales which take place every Wednesday afternoon from 1pm to 4pm at the College outside the glasshouse.

Hadlow College offers a number of horticulture courses, if you are interested in studying the subject visit the Horticulture subject page of the College website.

Visit the Thanet Earth website to find out more about what they do, or visit the Growing Kent & Medway website to learn more about them.


March 2023 was the Orchard and Vineyard official launch and our Green Horticultural Centre.

A new orchard has been planted on a 2 hectare site which is growing Apples, Plums, Cherries and Apricots under cover.

The orchard will demonstrate the latest technology in production systems ensuring high quality yields in a sustainable and environmental way. A vineyard has also been planted with varieties suitable for UK wine production again using the latest systems available.

Robotics and automation will be used to where possible to assist with planting, harvesting and pruning. Sustainability is top of our agenda - looking closely at decarbonisation and innovative crop diversity, cleaner storage and robotics.

Read more about the year of growth at our Green Horticulture Centre


September 2022

An exceptional building has now been constructed to house motor vehicles and motorcycles, giving students access to state-of-the-art facilities including:

• Motor Vehicle & Motorcycle Bays

• Main Dealer Fitted Workshop Facilities

• Motor Cycle Facilities

• Electric/Hybrid Facilities

• Tracking Facilities

• Latest Diagnostic Equipment

• Automotive Air-conditioning Facilities