Our main supplier is JBA potatoes, based in Annan (halfway between Dumfries & Carlisle)
We also have seed potatoes coming from Perth, including the Albert Barlett's series, Sarpos from their 'home' in North Wales and a few others from other seed potato merchants.
It's said that if you laid out all the vegetables grown by the Albert Bartlett company, the line would stretch three times round the world. Not bad for a firm started in the backroom of a council house in Lanarkshire by three men who could barely read and write. Albert came to Scotland from Northern Ireland in 1947 with sons Alex 16, and Jimmy 22, and with little more than big dreams! Starting with beetroot they developed the 'Scotty' brand. In the 1960s they moved to England, where part of the firm is now based, but they also have a big site in Aidrie. The UK business is supplied by a group of 96 farmers stretching from Cornwall to Inverness and 11 on the island of Jersey. With clever branding and marketing you'll see many of their potatoes in prime display at various supermarkets. Seed potato is available to gardeners, though in carefully controlled, branded pre-paks. Their mission is 'to make potatoes interesting and consistently interesting'!
Sarvari Trust has it's origins in Hungary. During the 1950s Dr Istvan Sarvari headed a team working on blight resistant potatoes. In Soviet times, potatoes that could be grown without chemicals were needed for the USSR and so, the Sárváris developed resistance to viruses and then resistance to blight. In the post Soviet era these potatoes were discovered by a group of Scottish potato growers & scientists.
Research Trust based in Bangor, North Wales. Money earned still helps to support the work of the family in Hungary. More recently the Savari Trust is building a “Crowd” of supporters and researchers who help them with their work. For much more information on this fascinating project seewww.sarvari-trust.org. The news page/ blog includes honest tasting notes from a top chef.
Why grow Sarpos? Sar-po stands for Sarvari Potato. Why grow any variety? Plot-holders want a good yield of spuds that have a great taste and texture. If you like a dry, floury variety like Kerrs Pink then you should try Sarpo Mira, Axona, Blue Danube or Sarpo Shona. If it’s a waxy one you want then try the early Sarpo Una or early maincrop Sarpo Kifli.
Other good reasons to grow Sarpos? Their vigour means they smother most weeds and leave the plot clean. No nasty sprays or chemicals required to grow a healthy crop. Just be careful to cut the tops when the spuds are the size you want. If left to grow on too long, the huge spuds will have hollow heart. Their long natural dormancy means they can be stored without refrigeration until well into the following year. What more do you want? Some growers in sheltered plots leave their Sarpo spuds in the ground and harvest as they need them over the winter, others like to use Axona or Sarpo Mira as second croppers; just leave some seed in a tray outside and plant them in July to get new potatoes in October and November.