Villa nursery was founded by Vincenzo Gibilaro in 1970. He came over from Italy in 1958 with his wife Josephine. He worked in nurseries owned by large land owners in the Lea Valley. On or around the 1970s these large nurseries were split up into smaller holdings. This is when Vincenzo bought Villa nursery which was at the time a wooden acre block. He worked at this nursery with Josephine growing cucumbers on bales of hay (real visionary organic production of its day!).
He expand to 1 1/4 acre new aluminum glass next , then adopted hydroponics and growing on substrates. This gave him extra yield and was able to progress. Seeing further opportunities for this type of growing , Vincenzo acquired 13 acres of land just north of Villa in 1990 and in 1993 acquired Merrywether nursery which joined the 13 acres of land with Villa nursery. Merryweather nursery had 3 acres of run down wooden glass and old boilers that were not efficient.
Vincenzo’s youngest son, Felice Gibilaro (chief grower) joined the family business in 1993 once Merryweather had been bought. Felice came from a photography background. However all the family had worked on the nursery every weekend, he was well versed in the industry. A new 2.5 acre nursery block was built in 1997. The old wooden block at Merry weather was then taken down and a further 4.5 acres built. This then gave an area of approximately 8.5 acres.
In 2000 a new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit was built which allowed Villa nursery to produce electricity and sell it to the grid and use the hot water and CO2 through the glasshouses. This investment and innovation produces 1.5 megawatt of power per hour. It also produces heat, as by product and CO2 . Both the heat and the CO2 are used in the glasshouse, the hot water to heat the glasshouses and the CO2 to enrich the plants during the day to increase production Villa nursery has two of these engines.
Michael Gibilaro (MD) joined in 2000, with a legal background , like his brother , on weekend and holidays he had always worked in the business .
Vincenzo and Josephine both retired in 2003 leaving the business for the brothers to Run.
Since then the business has been getting stronger, having clients such as Waitrose and Asda.
There is now a need to take it to the next level and develop the next 10 acres to give the business some real impact. The UK require more glasshouses as 80% of all salads consumed in the UK are imported therefore there is a great need for expansion. Any further English production will be gladly taken by the supermarkets.
Toby Baxendale (Chairman) joined the Villa Nursery team in the summer of 2013 to help facilitate this next expansion. Please take a look at the website here