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Scottish homegrown tomato industry receives a boost
Mrs Foodie received an invite from Scotty Brand to go along and visit one of the suppliers to Scotty Brand to find out more about Scottish tomatoes and Scotty Brand.
I’ve seen Scotty Brand in my local supermarket, I’m a big fan of their strawberries, however, did you know that Scotty Brand also cover potatoes, carrots, prepared vegetables, Ayrshire new potatoes, seasonal berries, bacon, smoked salmon, cakes, salad tubs and fresh soups? Me neither! In all, 26 different products.
So what is Scotty Brand? Scotty Brand was originally launched in 1948 by Albert Bartlett and was resurrected in 2010 to showcase fresh and tasty produce from Scotland.
All about the tomatoes
We were here to find out all about the resurgence of the Scottish tomato industry and it’s best to have a small history lesson first. Scottish tomatoes were famous and the place for them to be grown was the Clyde Valley. You would have been hard pushed to not find Scottish tomatoes in the shops. However cheaper imports and lack of support from supermarkets meant that many growers went out of business.
Back to the present time. Standhill Farm near Hawick in the Scottish borders is where we see the future of Scottish agriculture. Originally a dairy farm, Standhill Farm has diversified to become a commercial grower of Scottish tomatoes. After a lot of research, visiting farms and glasshouse all over the UK and Europe, Farmer Jim Shanks, diversified and invested in new equipment and staff to make commercially grown tomatoes in Scotland happen again. There are 8 staff employed to keep the tomatoes tended and ensure that they are as tasty as Scottish tomatoes of years gone by.
Jim Shanks, said; “We are delighted to be working with Scotty Brand to grow Scottish tomatoes. We have built a bespoke state of the art greenhouse to house and grow the crop and we also brought in our tomato expert Mark Wilkinson who has over 28 years’ experience of glasshouse growing, and now lives on the farm.”
We are guided past a traditional looking farm to a colossus of modernity. A huge 15½ thousand square metre glasshouse. Not only does the glasshouse look impressive, it has the credentials as well. The farm has its own biogas plant (generating the gas from cow muck) which provides CO2 for plant growth as well as electricity. Water comes from rainwater falling onto the glass roofs – you wouldn’t think you would be thanking Scottish rain for some environmentally-friendly plant watering! The glass in the glasshouse is specially-made refractive glass to preserve heat and to concentrate the rays of the sun. The 2½ football pitches of tomatoes is impressive and even more so when we are standing, in April, surrounded by delicious tomatoes being picked.
Mark guided us around his tomato children and introduced us to the bees who pollenate the plants and spoke of the insects who biologically clear the area of bugs. He is a proud man, helping to develop a product that can be on grown from January until November.
Michael Jarvis, head of marketing for Scotty Brand said; “We are very excited that tomatoes will be part of our product range again. Scotty Brand is always looking for new and exciting seasonal products to add to its portfolio and we have been searching for a suitable commercial tomato growing partner for a while. Scotland’s tomato-growing industry was previously a thriving industry and we are thrilled to see that tomatoes are growing commercially again in the country.”
The taste test
There are 2 packs of Scotty Brand Tomatoes available; 240g Annamay Cocktail variety – sweet juicy on the vine tomatoes; and 250g Sweetelle baby plum tomato variety. Scotty Brand Tomatoes will be available in all Lidl stores in Scotland, Wholefoods, as well as selected Morrison and Waitrose stores in Scotland until early November.