The fruit and the farm
At Castleton Farm, we grow premium quality strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries
The ideal soft fruit climate
Being more northerly than many soft fruit growers, the combination of long daylight hours and a cooler Scottish climate allows the fruit to ripen slowly. This creates more sugars, producing a delicious sweet berry.
We harvest fruit for nine months of the year, from the end of March right through to December.
In fact, we believe we’re the only farm in the whole world that can pick fresh cherries in late September.
Our raspberry harvest neatly falls between the peaks of the English summer and autumn fruiting seasons.
And globally, we are the most northerly commercial blueberry farm. So we pick later in the season, filling the fresh blueberry “gap” when the rest of the northern hemisphere has finished production and as the southern hemisphere starts.
We’ve got a lot going for us, and that’s before you consider the care and attention that goes into producing our soft fruit.
Strawberries: End March until early December
Raspberries: April until early December
Cherries: Mid-July until mid-September
Blueberries: Mid-July until end October
Taste the quality
We produce the finest quality fruit, full of flavour, that meets the high standards demanded by our customers.
Our branded punnets of Castleton Farm fruit are enormously popular throughout Scotland. And we have supplied the UK’s major supermarkets for over 20 years, with the majority of our fruit going to Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Waitrose and Lidl.
We are also a member of the Berry Gardens co-operative.
“Castleton Farm is a key supplier to M&S and very much part of its local community”
Andy Mitchell, agronomist, Marks & Spencer
Follow the strawberry
Our strawberry plants arrive frozen from the Netherlands. They are planted by hand into tabletop coir bags, or directly into the soil in beds. This starts in January and goes on throughout the year.
All the plants are under polytunnels and are fed and watered by “fertigation”. This is where fertiliser is added to an irrigation system.
When the weather becomes warm enough, the flowers come through the crown on the plant and open.
And this is where our friendly bees come in. As bees visit plants seeking food, pollen catches on their bodies and passes between plants, fertilising them – that’s pollination.
Six weeks after pollination, the open flower has transformed into a ripe strawberry, ready to pick.
73,000 bees to pollinate 12.5million strawberry flowers
9,600 bees to pollinate 3million raspberry flowers
161,700 bees to pollinate 25million blueberry flowers
41,000 bees to pollinate 1million cherry flowers
Picking the strawberries
The strawberries are picked by hand and graded. The pickers take the fruit to the supervisor station where it is quality checked and weighed.
The fruit is then taken to the packhouse, where all the fruit goes through more quality control checking as well as testing temperature, brix (sugar levels), mis-shapes, berry count, size and colour.
When we’re happy, the fruit goes into the rapid chill tunnel, to keep the fruit at its delicious best for the longest time possible. Within the hour, the fruit is taken from the ambient temperature to 5oc.
Packing and distribution
All our berries are chilled, packed and labelled in the custom-built packhouse at Castleton.
The fruit is packed to an average weight system. The punnets are then heat-sealed and labelled.
Then they are packed into their final crates ready to enter the supermarket distribution chains. They reach the supermarket shelves within 24 to 48 hours of being picked.
Keep up to date with what's going on at Castleton Farm
Former Olympic & World Champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill signs up to encourage the North-east to get “berry healthy” this summer. Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, face of the GB Olympics 2012, Olympic Champion, triple World Champion, mum of two and entrepreneur, has today been announced as the new face...