Dates for first pick your own days revealed
Local berry farmers Peter and Melanie Thomson have announced five pick your own days at their Rattray soft fruit farm on Ashgrove Road over the next few weeks.
The family has been growing berries in the area for more than 100 years, starting out with raspberries and then strawberries before diversifiying in recent years to blueberries and cherries.
However, as reported by the Blairie previously, this year the pair have had to take the difficult decision not to supply supermarkets with their blueberry crop as it is no longer financially viable.
Cheaper imported berries from Peru and South Africa, along with increased costs and a labour shortage due to Brexit, mean that there is no longer money to be made from blueberries.
And, with Peter and Melanie approaching retirement age, they have decided to concentrate their efforts on their cherry crops, working with another local grower.
But, with around 25 hectares of blueberry plants still producing fruit, the family-based firm is holding several fundraising pick your own days at the farm in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
And they are also keen to hear from any local community groups or organisations that would like to hold additional pick your own days to raise funds for their own good causes.
The move will see thousands of poundsworth of fruit donated to charity and the local community.
A spokesperson for the BaRI Food Project, part of Blairgowrie and Rattray Development Trust, said: “While it is very sad that it has come to the point that it is cheaper to bring fruit in from abroad than to grow it here, particularly within the context of a globally understood need for increasing biodiversity and encouraging healthy local food systems, the Thomson family are to be commended on their community-spirited approach to ensuring that the locally-grown blueberry crops don’t go to waste and instead benefit the local community.”
The Macmillan pick your own days will take place on Saturday, August 20, Saturday, August 27, Sunday August 28, Saturday, September 3, and Sunday, September 4.
Picking will be from 10am to 4pm and those taking part are advised to wear sturdy shoes and bring water and something to put the blueberries in.
Donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ pickyourown.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help run the pick your own days or taking part can email pickyourown@tthomson. co.uk.
And an information and training session will take place at the farm on Wednesday this week at 6.30pm for any individuals or community groups wishing to pick their own soft fruit.
Email admin@discoverblairgowrie. co.uk for more information.