The strawberries are here! They are coming in small batches so far as it’s early days, but we are delighted to be able to serve them to our customers this early in the year. We have a continuous supply now and we are supplying some local stores now including Scotmid Laurencekirk, Bervie and McHardys in Stonehaven.
And no, we don’t add any special chemicals to make them ripen faster and neither are they genetically modified to display such beautiful colours at a time when even daffodils aren’t blooming outside yet.
We have invested in renewable energy at the farm. We were one of the first businesses in the UK to install a Re2 Biomass CHP on the farm. We have three units now that supply heat to all the farm buildings, workers accommodations and, of course, the polytunnels. See, no magic!
We buy our strawberry plants from Holland and they arrive frozen. Once planted under the tunnels, the plants receive all their food and nutrition through a fertigation system.
We wish we could do magic when it comes to pollinating all the plants because it takes 100,000 bumble bees and 10,000 mason bees to pollinate the 10 million strawberry plants we have, not to mention the other berry plants we have! Which just shows how important bees are for the environment and the ecosystem.
Once the flower is open and pollinated, it takes 6 weeks for it to be transformed into a ripe and ready to pick strawberry. Again, no magic, no chemicals – just patience, heat from the biomass heating units and when needed, human interference to clear off the snow from the polytunnels like we had to during the “Snowmageddon” aka “Beast from the East”.
What some might find surprising is that the cool Scottish climate allows the fruit to ripen slowly which creates more sugars producing a delicious sweet berry.
From there on, the pickers take the fruit to the supervisor station where it is quality checked and weighed. All our fruit undergoes quality checks at the intake of the packhouse. We check the temperature, brix, mis-shapes, berry count, size and colour.
Once checked, weighed, packed and checked again, the berries will arrive on the supermarket shelves within 24 – 48 hours of being picked. And of course, their journey to get to the shelves of our own shop or the kitchen is even shorter at that last stage, at which point you can enjoy them to take home or eat as dessert, or both!