Growing Crops for Human Consumption

Legumes

  • Broad Beans

Situated in Tayside, along Scotland’s temperate east coast, East Coast Viners is one of the largest producers of broad beans in the UK.  

  • Field Beans

Field beans are hardier and tolerate cold better than their relative, broad beans. Currently however, we grow as many beans for livestock in Scotland, as we do for human consumption. The majority of beans grown for human consumption are exported to North Africa and the Middle East to use as alternatives to chickpeas in dishes such as falafel and hummus.

Garden Organic give a great guide to growing field beans for human consumption.

Bruce Farms in Perthshire have been growing peas for over 50 years and grow more than half the peas in Scotland. They created Podberry pea snacks which are now available in selected Scottish Morrison stores.

“We wanted to come up with a way for consumers to taste our peas in a new and innovative way but keep the peas natural and nutritious.” Geoff Bruce, Director, Podberry

  • Lupins

Lupins are more than just pretty flowers. They have been grown for food for thousands of years.

Garden Organic give a good overview of growing edible lupins.

Lupins are higher in protein than beans – 26g per cup – and contain all the essential amino acids. They are able to grow at lower temperatures than soy and thus have the potential to become a good source of home-grown protein in the UK.

Blue lupins, especially, can be grown in colder, wetter areas. Low alkaloid, “sweet” varieties are best as they don’t require as much soaking before cooking. Due to the high protein and fibre content, lupins can help with weight management as they help people to feel full sooner and stay full longer. Beware if you have a peanut allergy though, as they belong to the same family.


Cereals

  • Oats

Oats were a staple superfood in Scotland in the 17th and 18th centuries, but when whisky was legitimised in 1823 many farmers switched to growing barley for malting.

Oats grow well in our damp, sun-deprived climate. They need little artificial help and are resistant to disease and fungi. From a dietary perspective, oats are one of the top grain sources of amino acids. They also help to lower cholesterol and decrease inflammation.

Oat milk is a popular dairy-free alternative which could easily be produced in Scotland.

  • Wheat

Aside from its traditional uses in the baking industry, wheat has a new application in the growing vegan market. Seitan is a high-protein, low-carb, low-fat meat-substitute that is made from vital wheat gluten – gluten that has been separated from the starch and other components in flour. It is a great alternative for people adverse to soy products – plus, we can grow it here! Sadly, no vital wheat gluten is currently produced in the UK. It is all imported from the continent. We are working to change that!


Vegetables

Currently, the UK imports around 90% of its fruit and veg. With a temperate climate and plenty of rain this makes no sense. With our departure from the EU, it becomes more important that we begin to grow our own. We already have some amazing growers in Scotland. The polytunnel revolutionised horticulture and now, with the arrival of vertical crop growing (see our section on Repurposing Buildings), vegetables can be grown, literally, anywhere.

  • Fruit and Vegetables for Scotland provides the definitive guide to Scottish growing. We can only list a few of the many fruits and vegetables here but there are literally dozens more!

Let’s start with the “tried and tested”:

  • Broad beans
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Purple sprouting broccoli
  • Kale
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Beetroot
  • Chard
  • Lettuce (multiple varieties)
  • Turnips/swedes

Kettle Produce in Fife contract with around 50 farmers throughout Scotland to grow their brassicas, root, and salad veggies.


Other Veggies Widely Grown in Scotland

  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (multiple varieties)
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips
  • Calabrese
  • Cucumber
  • Radish
  • Squash
  • Spring greens
  • Mushrooms – from large enterprises such as Mushrooms Scotland Ltd., to smaller circular ones such as Green Grow, mushrooms can be grown indoors and thereby provide a great opportunity to repurpose buildings and develop a new income stream.

Fruit

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Stewarts of Tayside, former sheep and cattle farmers, switched to growing strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and swedes. This proved to be the profitable move that enabled them to buy the farm. Today, they are the largest grower of swedes in the UK and the largest independent soft fruit grower in Scotland.

  • Blueberries
  • Blackcurrants

During the summer of 2020, the James Hutton Institute harvested the first batch of their newly bred variety, the ‘Ben Lawers’ blackcurrant. Given that blackcurrants require a cold winter spell so that they may fruit in the summer, this variety was bred to cope with the increasingly milder and shorter winter chills brought upon by climate change, allowing the crop to bear fruit in spite of this. Dr Dorota Jarret at the James Hutton institute hopes this will be the first of many more climate resilient crops to come, and notes that several other trials are currently ongoing.

  • Tayberries

Angus Soft Fruits in Arbroath declared their profits up by 37% in 2019 to £1.327 million

  • Tomatoes
  • Rhubarb
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Gooseberries

Nuts

  • Sweet chestnuts
    Gina’s next project!

Gina Bates of Highland Veganics in Sutherland planted 312 hardy hybrid hazelnut trees on her 80-acre croft. Gina consulted with expert nut growers before planting 6 different varieties. In 2-4 years time, Gina hopes to have a yield of around 12 kilos of nuts per tree per harvest.

Gina with nut sapling

Sweet Chestnut Nursery


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