We started our Jersey business in 2007, to improve dramatically the way the delicate Jersey Royals were handled and presented to our customers.
In that first year, after talking to the Jersey government and local growers, we agreed a site for a new pack house on the outskirts of Jersey’s capital, St Helier. The site was formerly one of the largest dairy farms on the island, although the owner, Stuart Mourant, and his son Nick had recently stopped growing Jersey Royals. However, they were so encouraged by our long-term commitment that Nick started growing the crop again!
Our state-of-the-art facility can wash, hydro-cool and pack the highly prized Jersey Royals within hours of them being harvested, so they arrive in stores almost two days fresher than was previously possible. Processing at the source also cuts down significantly on road haulage and reduces the carbon footprint.
We use advanced technology to conserve water and lessen our impact on the environment, working closely with our experienced growers on Jersey, many of whom are fourth and fifth generation. We help them with planting and agronomy strategies, as well as irrigation, harvesting and seed storage. We are committed to meeting our own strict sustainability and environmental objectives as we grow and develop.
A fitting tribute to an
To pay tribute to the generations of islanders who have braved the steep slopes to hand-plant and hand-pick these wonderful new-season potatoes, we decided to commission a commemorative sculpture.
Fashioned in bronze to a design by Archie Forrest – one of Scotland’s leading contemporary artists – it depicts a potato picker at work. The statue was unveiled by Mrs Alex Bartlett at the official opening of our Jersey pack house, on 23rd September 2009.
The story of our Jersey statue
When we commissioned Archie, we asked him to produce a piece of work that would capture the heritage and character of the Jersey Royal industry.
His sculpture depicts one of the workforce harvesting the early-season Jersey Royal crop by hand – the method used since the first exports began back in 1880. The plaque uses the Forth Road Bridge as a graphic link between Jersey and our head office in Scotland. It reads: “This sculpture has been commissioned and created for the enjoyment of the people of Jersey.”
Archie started by visiting Jersey, for inspiration and to understand how the whole Jersey Royal process works. Initially, he had considered fun ideas for a statue, such as a ‘potato head’. After his research on the island, though, he concluded: “Why run away from something so steeped in history?” The process of picking a potato from Jersey’s côtils has not changed in 100 years and so this is still the classic image of the annual Jersey potato harvest.
During the creative process, Archie worked through sketches, to a scaled-down clay ‘maquette’, to a scaled-up wax cast, and finally to the bronze statue which was cast in Glasgow. The small details, including the creases in the material of our potato-picker’s clothes, were hand carved by Archie.
The statue is now proudly on display at our Jersey operation. It is one of the first things you see on the drive up to the pack house and, as intended, serves as a fitting tribute to the hard work and traditional skill that goes into harvesting our wonderful Jersey Royal potato crop.