Borders tomatoes given right royal seal of approval

Princess Anne visits Standhill Farm near Hawick.
Princess Anne visits Standhill Farm near Hawick.

Hawick’s Standhill Farm was visited by the Princess Royal this week, and she officially opened its pioneering £2m greenhouse.

Princess Anne was invited to officially open the glasshouse following an initiative earlier this year to bring back Scottish tomatoes to the commercial growing market by food producer Scotty Brand and Borders farmer Jim Shanks.

The royal visitor chatting to staff.

The royal visitor chatting to staff.

Scotland’s tomato-growing industry was previously a thriving industry, but it declined in the 1970s due to cheaper imports undercutting the prices farmers here were able to charge.

Now, however, Scotty Brand is leading a drive to resurrect it.

Staff at the farm, near Minto, were delighted to show her royal highness around the custom-built greenhouse, which covers around 15,000sq m of the farm’s land.

The first crop was launched back in April by double Michelin-starred chef Andrew Fairlee.

Princess Anne at Standhill Farm.

Princess Anne at Standhill Farm.

The farm has been owned by Jim Shanks and his family before him for over 60 years.

Around four years ago, the dairy farmers started looking into renewable energy as a way of diversifying and plans for the tomato greenhouse began then.

The project uses a sustainable, eco-friendly growing method, with water being supplied by rainfall and pollination being carried out by bees living in hives with a life expectancy of 10 weeks.

The princess also visited Selkirk tartan manufacturer Lochcarron while she was in the Borders.

The princess admires the �2m greenhouse.

The princess admires the �2m greenhouse.

No royal visit is complete without a plaque being unveiled.

No royal visit is complete without a plaque being unveiled.

Denholm Primary School pupils flying the flag.

Denholm Primary School pupils flying the flag.

The princess chatting to youngsters.

The princess chatting to youngsters.