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Scottish fruit and veg to hit Waitrose shelves early this summer

Scottish-grown fruit and veg such as tomatoes and raspberries - generally considered summer produce – are to hit Waitrose shelves a full two months earlier than last year.

Published: April 6, 2017
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Scotty Brand tomatoes – the only commercially grown tomatoes in Scotland – will be available in Waitrose on 5th April, including the Scottish season’s first cocktail vine tomatoes.

The return of the Scottish tomato will be closely followed with Scotland’s favourite fruit, raspberries, arriving into branches on 19th April – ahead of any other supermarket.

This early supply is thanks to the Scottish location with plenty of daylight hours, coupled with new growing techniques.

Jim Shanks, the farmer who grows tomatoes for Scotty Brand on his farm near Hawick, started out as a dairy farmer and has diversified by reviving Scottish tomato production in a more sustainable way than ever before.

With a £2m investment in a greenhouse system that is heated by power from an anaerobic digester, fuelled by his dairy herd, Jim has created the ideal temperature for tomatoes to grow.

The roof and walls are built of hi-tech glass, which allows more daylight to come through to help the tomatoes ripen naturally. The resulting fruit is low in food miles and high in taste.

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Meanwhile, Ross Mitchell, the raspberry farmer, grows his fruit in polytunnels, heated with carbon neutral, biomass boilers fuelled with local wood. Grown on Castleton Farm in Aberdeenshire, just six miles from the coast, the climate is ideal for growing soft fruit.

The early season Maravilla raspberries he grows will launch in Waitrose shops on 19th April. A relatively recent variety, Maravilla has firm, large berries and a good shelf life. The sugars develop with sunlight and the long days in Aberdeenshire – with up to 20 hours of sunlight in the summer months – provide perfect growing conditions for high quality fruit.

The warmer temperatures inside the polytunnels, allow soft fruits such as raspberries to flower earlier and produce tasty fruit, up to two months earlier than in the past. The berries are harvested by hand to ensure only the ripest fruits arrive onto shelves.

Nicki Baggott, Waitrose fruit buyer, said: "The recent sunny weather has led to a shift towards lighter style eating so we warmly welcome the arrival of our first home grown raspberries.

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"This is such a great time of year for cooks as spring heralds the start of British seasonal fruit and veg. Our raspberries will be joining Ayrshire potatoes and Scottish tomatoes all of which will be appearing on our shelves in the next few weeks."

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