First raspberries in the UK appear in Aberdeenshire

On April 13, 2022

Usually a sign of high summer days, raspberries are making an early entrance this year, thanks to the efforts of Castleton Farm.

Ross Mitchell oversees the 1,200 acres of arable and fruit production on the farm, which lies in the heart of the Howe of the Mearns in Aberdeenshire.

And this year, some of the first raspberries in the UK are being produced in the fruit grower’s greenhouses.

“Farming has experienced so many changes recently,” said Ross. “We are tackling challenges in the climate, the labour market as well as shifts in public taste and perception.

“We grow premium quality strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries at Castleton Farm and have done for many years.

“However, we want to extend our offering. If we can produce earlier in the season, there is strong consumer demand for soft fruit grown in the UK.

“We built two hectares of greenhouses last year and decided to plant them with raspberries and blackberries.

“We can cut down on carbon-intensive food miles by reducing the need for imported fruit.

“Instead of shipping our food halfway across the globe, we are using renewable energy to produce our fruit earlier and for longer.”

Extended season

The fruit harvest at Castleton Farm goes on for nine months of the year. The business supplies multiple retailers from March through to the first weeks of December.

It uses a network of biomass boilers and solar systems to produce the energy to heat the greenhouses. Excess power is fed back into the national grid.

At the other end of the season, blueberries at Castleton Farm are harvested later than anywhere in the northern hemisphere. They are one of only a few farms in the world picking fresh cherries in September.

The early harvest uses varieties of fruit that are tried and tested, including Driscoll’s Maravilla raspberries and Driscoll’s Victoria blackberries.

Castleton Farm packs and sends more than eight million punnets of soft fruit for the fresh market, mostly through major supermarkets.

Of the 1,200 acres that Ross Mitchell farms, 412 acres produce soft fruit across two sites, at Castleton and nearby Inchgray at Fettercairn.

They are a member of the Berry Gardens co-operative, one of eight members based in Scotland.



Want to find out more about the berries we grow at Castleton Farm?

Our fruit fields are the equivalent to 142 football pitches.

Want to find out more about the berries we grow at Castleton Farm?

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