It’s more than a year since people at Produce World first started talking to the BBC about their idea for a series of programmes covering growing and harvesting in the UK. From the very first meeting the BBC were impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm of the team at Produce World. As well as being one of the biggest growers and suppliers of fresh vegetables in the UK, we love what we do, even when it is challenging!
Camera crews have been covering various aspects of vegetable growing all through the year. Here are just some of the highlights:
Like millions of people in the UK, the team from the BBC were unaware that some carrots grown in the autumn are not harvested, but are covered and stored in the field ready for when they are needed. They wanted to follow this story through.
Not only did they spend a day in the field with Ian Hall from Tompsett Burgess Growers as he and his team covered the carrots with straw, they also returned on a snowy day in January to see the team harvesting in these most challenging of conditions.
Our field factory is a fantastic innovation. It has the important benefit of delivering fresh broccoli in record time: just 60 seconds from cutting to packing and by the next day it can be on the shelf in one of customers’ stores.
Because it’s unique to Produce World it also attracts lots of attention from the media. As well as featuring in BBC Harvest, the field factory has also appeared on BBC Breakfast recently. When they visited the rig Harvest presenters Gregg Wallace and Phillippa Forrester learnt about the skills and hard work that going into cutting, grading and packing out in the field.
As well as growing vegetables ourselves through Burgess Farms, Produce World works in partnership with other growers. Each one is a leader in their field, and they are all important to our business. One of the biggest in potatoes is G&D Matthews Ltd.
BBC Harvest visited David Matthew’s farm to find out how the potatoes are harvested and graded before being transported to Sutton Bridge for cleaning, further quality control and packing for our retail customers.
David pointed out to the BBC team just how delicate potatoes are, and how important it is to handle them with care at each stage of the process to ensure that they reach the consumer in the best possible condition.
At Produce World we are always looking for new varieties of vegetables that our customers can sell and which will delight consumers. The search for these new varieties takes the team all over the world, working in conjunction with the seed houses.
Back in the UK Produce World’s agronomists start the long process of finding out whether the new varieties will grow in this country, while the commercial teams work with our customers to see if there is a market for them. They are grown in various trial areas including the field behind our Butterwick site.
The series presenters met with Andrew Burgess and Dara O’Doherty from Produce World to take a look around the trial field and sample some of the vegetables which we are trialling and hope to have on supermarket shelves in the next few years. They were so delighted that they named it the ‘sweet shop of veg’!