Farmer Focus: Celebrating 50 years of pea co-op

We are celebrating the 50th year of our local vining pea co-operative, Scottish Borders Produce, this year.

The business has undergone various structural changes over this period and now operates in a joint venture with Eyemouth Freezers.

Scottish Borders Produce is responsible for growing the crop and Eyemouth Freezers handles processing, storing and packing.

See also: How to build a Johnson-Su bioreactor to produce your own on-farm biology

About the author

David Fuller
David Fuller manages 3,500ha of medium sandy clays for McGregor Farms based at Coldstream, on both sides of the border. Cropping includes wheat, spring barley, winter barley and oilseed rape, spring beans and vining peas. Potatoes are farmed in collaboration with Greenvale AP.
Read more articles by David Fuller

Marketing is the responsibility of a third party, with the majority of the packed peas being retailed through the supermarkets.

The peas are grown within a 50-mile radius of the seaside town of Eyemouth, in Berwickshire, East Lothian and Northumberland.

Membership has grown significantly in recent years to 89, with the group now harvesting just over 3,000ha of peas.

The aim is to have the peas processed and frozen within 150 minutes of harvest to lock in all of the goodness of a fresh product.

With drilling only recently completed and harvest just around the corner, and likely to continue into early September, it is quite an intense period for a small but dedicated team.

The government launched its Food Strategy policy paper in a timely fashion, just as consumers are battling the rising cost of living and primary producers face huge cost increases.

Inevitably, the lack of a clear “strategy” within the paper has led to a huge amount of criticism from commentators.

However, I am reasonably pleased that at last the government appears to be taking food security seriously and is finally speaking out loud about it.

This is at least a starting point in making the food supply chain more resilient. Only time will tell how effective the aims of the policy paper will be in shaping our future food production systems.

Back on the farm, we are finishing off our ear sprays on winter wheat and applying the final fungicide spray to spring oats. With harvest fast approaching, it is also holiday time for the staff.

Hopefully, they will all return rested up and ready for action.

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