Waitrose working to encourage sustainable food production
Now part of the APS Group, Wight Salads, the tomato growers formerly part of Vitacress has been supplying Waitrose for over 20 years with conventional and organic tomatoes focusing on varieties that deliver exceptional taste and quality.
The main production area is on the Isle of Wight where we have 26 hectares of glass, which benefits from high sunshine levels and mild maritime climate. We also supply living herbs from our site in West Sussex.
Vitacress pioneered UK organic tomato production from 1997 and was one of the first businesses to introduce combined heat and power (CHP). We have been responsible for a number of new introductions to Waitrose from the first cherry tomatoes in 1998 to today’s best-selling line Red Choice.
APS Ltd.’s tomatoes are grown using Integrated Pest Management, which is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management using current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. Through our links with specialists in the horticultural industry and commitment to research on our own crops, we are well placed to counter serious pest threats in the future, thus reducing the need to use pesticides and also reducing fruit residues to an absolute minimum.
The site has invested in a high-tech composting unit where all crop waste is composted, even including the biodegradable string and growing slabs. This unique process in the industry allows the site to return all of its crop waste to the greenhouses organic soils improving soil quality and creating a closed loop of waste recycling.The site is committed to Conservation grade farming which is an ethical, sustainable and ‘Fair to Nature’ way of growing food.
In this video, Paul Howlett, Head of Agronomy for Vitacress, talks about some of the challenges Vitacress overcame in soil and pest management when producing organic tomatoes.