Scottish Enterprise Awards 2023

SME News | Scottish Enterprise Awards 2023 | 28 Best Vegetable Crops Producer 2023 Established in 1987, East of Scotland Growers Ltd. is a farmer owned cooperative based in Cupar, Fife. ESG has been recognised by the European Union as a Producer Organisation, meaning that individual farmers work collectively as an organisation for the benefit of the grower. The cooperative has created a trusted group of farmers with the shared ambition of a customerfocused organisation that is driven by its mission for a sustainable future. East of Scotland Growers Ltd. has been honoured in the Scottish Enterprise Awards for this year’s Best Vegetable Crops Producer. The cooperative’s membership consists of 15 farming businesses located in Fife, Angus, Perthshire, the Lothians, and the Scottish Borders. ESG has a wide range of vegetable crops produced in fertile soil across a 180-mile radius. Farmers within the cooperative mainly specialise in brassica and root vegetable production, which is sold to UK retailers, processors, wholesalers, and export markets. East of Scotland Growers Ltd. provides an avenue to market and offers procurement, agronomy, technical, financial, and administration services for its members. It is East of Scotland Growers’ objective to maximise value for their farmers. The cooperative is passionate about placing profit back into the hands of growers and takes no return between farm gate and customer delivery. ESG values complete transparency in order to establish a collaborative, trusting relationship with its members and fulfil its mission to grow together for the future. Staff at ESG are responsible for planning, programming, customer interactions, sales allocations, logistics, and quality control. The group also coordinates and funds research and development, giving members the opportunity to access the power of the collective in ways they could not accomplish individually. ESG invests in new varieties, innovative production techniques, sustainable farming, and developing new products. The cooperative completes extensive trial work, including variety trials, new crop trials, product handling trials, and many more. ESG is committed to ongoing research, and during the growing season, farms manage and monitor over 300 trial plots every year. The organisation takes charge of the commercial duties, leaving farmers to focus on growing their high-quality crops. All ESG members are Assured Produce and Nurture accredited growers, meaning that crops meet rigorous standards of agricultural production. All of ESG’s broccoli and cauliflower crops are sown from seeds and grown in specialist glass houses. These brassica vegetables are carefully grown in fertile, well-drained soil and sunny areas. Seeds are sown early in the year but remain sheltered for the first few months. From March onwards, plants are transported from glass houses to the farm, where they are planted in freshly cultivated soil. ESG’s growers nurture the plants with care and attention to produce the best possible crops ready for harvesting in the summer months. Examples of other vegetable varieties grown include onions, organic crops, and cabbage. All onion crops at ESG are grown from sets, more commonly known as immature bulbs. This method is the easiest means of growing and ensures an earlier crop of full-sized onion bulbs. Crops are expertly nurtured by growers until they reach maturity and are ready for topping, the process of pruning plants’ top growth. Onions are next harvested into field boxes and transported to a specialist drying store, where they are dried and cured. It is important for the outer layers of a bulb to dry to protect the inside from rot and mildew. The cooperative benefits from its location in the East of Scotland, which offers fertile soils and some of the best growing locations for vegetable crops across the UK. Despite this, all agricultural operations are affected by ever-fluctuating weather patterns, and ESG is not immune to these challenges. The ESG works to minimise the impact of changing weather by ensuring a wide geographical spread across its production, covering roughly 200 miles of the east coast of Scotland. The result is a decreased risk of excessive rainfall affecting all crops and a more consistent supply. Most of ESG’s crops are labour intensive and require considerable seasonal resources to produce the best yield. A side effect of Brexit has left some sectors unable to access vital equipment. In spite of these challenges, ESG continues to use state-of-the-art weather stations to monitor and predict weather, which helps aid farmers’ planning and production. Predictions allow members to choose the optimal time for cultivation, irrigation, pest and disease control, and harvesting. Through a golden combination of prime locations and innovative technology, farmers within the cooperative are able to produce the highest possible quality of crops. Alongside cutting-edge weather stations, farmers have access to the latest irrigation equipment to ensure that plants are kept watered during the drier seasons. Proper irrigation allows ESG to consistently deliver excellent quality and freshness through the summer months. Members at ESG have also invested in high humidity cold stores and possess a collective amount of 1,000,000 cubic feet of cold storage. It is ESG’s aim to place all produce into cold storage within 60 –120 minutes of harvesting, fulfilling its guarantee of fresh and tasty produce. East of Scotland Growers Ltd. is dedicated to continuous development. Most recently, the cooperative created a crisp manufacturing company and is leading a merger with another large vegetable producer in Scotland. Located in Cupar, Growers Garden produces a healthy alternative to conventional crisps with its fresh vegetable crisps. The brand is due to appear in UK retailers in early 2024. Over the last year, ESG has also merged with R&K Drysdale in Berwickshire to create one body for the growing and marketing operations of both organisations. For the last 3 years, ESG has been trialling the production of various natural fibre crops, primarily hemp and flax. The East of Scotland has the perfect growing conditions for the production of flax, which is predominantly used in linen textile production. The cooperative has invested in the necessary field harvesting equipment, and in 2024, flax crops will be scaled up to commercial levels. ESG will make further investments with the construction of a processing mill to be completed in 2025. With many exciting developments on the horizon, we are excited to see what the future holds for ESG and cannot wait to find out how the cooperative will continue to maximise return for its valued members. For its steadfast mission of working together for a sustainable future, East of Scotland Growers Ltd. has received our award for this year’s Best Vegetable Crops Producer. Contact Details Contact: Andrew Faichney Company: East of Scotland Growers Ltd Web Address: