When Malta's first public private partnership was launched in November 2002 ELC inherited amongst other areas the Wied Incita Nursery in Attard which had always been intended to be the spearhead of plant production. Originally utilized by the Urban and Rural Landscaping Section of the Department of Agriculture it has now become a flagship of the Environmental landscapes Consortium.
The first year of operation in the Nursery essentially consisted in an extensive clean-up during which the nursery was freed from weed-infested soil, rusting tin cans and polybags. In the first year some 150,000 tree seedlings most of them being of Maltese origin, were proposed. Many of these are still retained and maintained in good condition for future afforestation work and enhancement of the Maltese countryside.
The rest of the species for which there is or will be an environmental and landscape use have been upgraded and repotted in weed free compost, whilst tin-cans and polybags have been done away with to be substituted by a modern plastic pot system. The net result of this initial work can be seen in our two major tree holding areas in the nursery.
Existing nursery areas have also been extended. Weed and scrub were removed in non-agricultural soil areas and nursery stock areas with irrigation extensions, weed mat and gravel for surface drainage and weed control were also constructed. Moreover as a hot-season extension to the greenhouse facility construction was also undertaken of shade, areas which wind protected and sprinkler irrigated. The ground was literally set and we added a further 5000 olives and Palm trees, which are being grown on in our fields under an extensive irrigation system to yield mature specimens in future years.
In our second year 2004 we started to look closely at the technical needs of our plants, with considerable research on compost materials and rapid propagation techniques. As a result, we produced over 35,000 flowering shrubs, hedging and ground-cover plants. Field developments also included the extensive clearance of perennial weeds, tidying up and repairing of broken rubble walls, demolition of old army huts and removal of debris to maximize the "useful" field-area. Over and above we also constructed 1500 square metres of secure, weed-free, wind-protected shade houses, each with its own controlled irrigation system for maturing and maintenance plant stocks. All these developments and improvements gave us the opportunity to steadily increase our production to its present production levels.
Apart from our seasonal flower programme the current constructing activities include amongst other things 4,200 square metres of shade houses and greenhouse facilities, to serve our current production of 80,000 additional trees, 130,000 additional shrubs and 150,000 flowering ground cover plants.
Wied Incita Nursery is well into its fourth year under the management of the ELC. Our current impact on the public eye and urban environment is exemplified by the vast quantity of seasonal flowers currently being planted on roundabouts, central strips and other areas. Improvement in facilities at Wied Incita have increased qualitative production and we are proud to state that 95% of these flowers are produced in their entirety in Malta, using Maltese labour and supervision.
We are extremely grateful to our local suppliers for their co-operation and technical assistance as indeed and not the least to our own nursery staff for their perseverance and enthusiasm in adapting to new technologies.
We are sure that this all-pervasive enthusiasm will be replicated in the very near future in and by other sections of our staff, particularly with the tying up of plans to develop a part of Wied Incita Nursery into an agro-touristic project.
Wied Incita is and will remain the hub of current plant and tree production for the ELC. We hope however to shortly develop it also into a centre of educational recreation which can be enjoyed by all and sundry.