We met recently with David Currid of Grantstown Nurseries and got an insight into what it takes to supply top quality tomatoes to the Irish market.
The family business has been growing tomatoes since 1978 at their Ballygunner site on the outskirts of Waterford City.
It was a glorious sunny day when we were greeted by a smiling David. He wasn’t just happy about another opportunity to talk about his passion for tomatoes. He was beaming because of the sun.
“When the sun’s out – we don’t need to heat the tomatoes as much, saving energy and cost”, enthused David. Along with the fact that tomatoes grow quicker, David also said that the warmer weather brings a change in food habits – meaning more salads and outdoor eating – and a growing demand.
David took us on the tour of his facility, accompanied all the while by his faithful and unofficial business partner – Jess his beloved dog.
First stop was one of two enormous greenhouses, spanning two and a half acres that produce 300 tonnes of tomatoes annually.
The efficiency of this space was immediate, and gives you a good understanding as to how they’ve become a chosen supplier with the biggest supermarkets in Ireland.
Well organised vines show the fascinating visual cycle from pollination to picking (approximately seven weeks). And a clever track that separates rows of tomatoes, has two uses. One as a rail to transport an electric cart to be used by a picker, the other, housing hot water for heating.
Sustainability was also a key message David was keen to express during the tour.
The company has for many years used innovative ways to protect the planet, whilst providing good quality, great tasting tomatoes on a large scale.
The use of pesticides is limited, instead choosing natural enemies to protect crops from pests. They also harvest CO2 emission from the heating system and use it to enhance plant growth.
Along with a pellet boiler, there is also a PV (photovoltaic) system offering cheap electricity.
Another ‘green’ credential includes rainwater harvesting, which is significant for the tomatoes too. David explained: “95 per cent of a tomato is water – so it needs to be of a high standard. Our water is direct from the sky, and once it’s cleared a UV filter – it’s ready to grow the plants. And you know a good quality tomato by its glossy shine.”
Grantstown Nurseries, certified under the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme, supplies ripened on the vine tomatoes in a wide range including super sweet Suntini, Sunstream, and a selection of unusually shaped and coloured varieties.
Tomatoes are purchased through a network of national and local distributors.
To learn more, visit: https://grantstownnurseries.ie/