East of Scotland Growers – Red Tractor Vegetable Growers
In north eastern Fife in Scotland, Ross Forster’s family have been farming on Peacehill Farm since 1927. The 1,600-acre, family farm grows crops and a range of produce such as broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, wheat, barley, rye and sugar beet.
Ross is part of East of Scotland Growers Ltd., a cooperative set up in 1987 to offer local growers more support and opportunities. Planning, quality control, research and development are all controlled centrally, whilst growing and harvesting remain the farmer’s day-to-day responsibility.
All East of Scotland Growers are Red Tractor Certified, something which Alan Wallace from East of Scotland Growers uses to ensure that their produce is grown sustainably and in traceable manner:
“Our customers need to know that their vegetables have been produced to the highest of standards. This is not possible if you don’t know the source, this is why we work to Red Tractor standards across our farms to show our commitment to responsible farming and traceability.”
Today, the East of Scotland Growers are one of the country’s biggest broccoli and cauliflower producers, providing an impressive 15-20% of the UK’s current supply.
Peacehill farm grows just under 4,000 tonnes of broccoli and cauliflower each year. The location helps Ross to supply this level of veg with the coastal spot preventing the area from getting too warm, and longer summer days ensuring the crops grow slower to develop to a better quality and taste.
The slightly cooler, wet Scottish climate also helps to protect the crops from pests who typically prefer warmer conditions and means that the crops are naturally well watered. Minimising the use of pesticides and water needed for his crops is crucial to Ross to help him run a more sustainable business:
“Farmers love the environment, that is why we do what we do. If we don’t operate sustainably, we don’t have a future.”
“In order to protect our local environment, we have planted hedges to support wildlife, sown green cover crops to help keep the soil healthy and reduced our levels of artificial fertiliser application.”
As well as ensuring that sustainability is prioritised on a local level, the cooperative has also looked at innovative ways to minimise waste across their collection of farms.
Broccoli that doesn’t quite pass the test for customers due to size or shape, is now being transformed into broccoli crisps under their Growers Garden range. Vegan, gluten-free and low in saturated fats, these new snacks come in a variety of flavours and are all produced to Red Tractor standards to ensure they are traceable, safe and farmed with care. Find out where you can buy these here.