Guernsey Tom under threat as grower looks set to close

A CHAPTER of Guernsey history is set to draw to a close as one of the last remaining tomato growers shuts through lack of business.

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A CHAPTER of Guernsey history is set to draw to a close as one of the last remaining tomato growers shuts through lack of business.

Anthony Le Page, 74, pictured, has been a grower for over five decades, but has been unable to secure orders for this year – leaving him no choice but to cease operations, leading to the probable loss of 15 jobs.

‘I have been growing on my own since I was 20, but I started with my dad before that.

‘I just have not been able to secure any more contracts. It has always been yearly, and we get various ones for cherry and plum tomatoes.’

Mr Le Page said he is ‘still fighting’ for contracts from companies which supply supermarkets, but as yet he has had no luck. He finished working on Tuesday. ‘Unless a new contract comes along we will be closed. I do not think we can achieve a big enough contract for all the jobs.’

In total, Mr Le Page said he owns and operates four-and-a-half acres of glass at L’Etonnellerie Lane, Vale, and the decision to shut the business was weighing heavily on him.

Comments for: "Guernsey Tom under threat as grower looks set to close"

Dave Y

Surely all the local supermarkets could source local toms. instead of importing!!!!

Dan

I agree, the Co-op is always advertising that they support local. why haven't they stepped up?

Dave Gorvel

I am sure Chairman of the Co Op Peter Roffey will explain to us in his next article.

How buying local rather than Jersey helps and benefits your local community?

This is one I will read.

MarciJ

This is very sad :(

A.J.

Agreed Dave, but at the age of 74, does Tony still need the hassle? Perhaps not.

markB

Start growing Hot chillies, we all eat more spicy food than ever now days.

SM

Dave Y - I completely agree. Very sad

The local supermarkets claim to support local producers (and complain at the importing cost, or rather use it as an excuse for high pricing) - so let's see Guernsey toms as the core provision with imported only as a back-up

AtoZ

Where are the business managers from Waitrose, Checkers, Alliance, M&S and the Co-Op. There is a healthy local market. Surely tomatoes grown locally are better for you than those imported from anywhere. I do not require uniform exacting sized tomatoes and the lovely natural shapes add quality to the plate. Come on Guernsey demand your local suppliers to go local and not just on postcards.

Dave Gorvel

Hi

Island Wide Voting

Hi Dave

Watcher

Yup, Dave is a man of few words.....

Dave Gorvel

First time ever accused of that.

Must tell my family.

Dave Gorvel

It is all familiar and sadly depressing to me.

The Co Op on the Isle Of white has separate stands of local produce to give them the "freedom of choice" to buy local and perhaps watch this space here.

Over there you will find the restruants and pubs all advertising local meat, fish and vegetables they proudly use.No here.

Most if not all the Toms sold here come from Jersey during the season and elsewhere for the rest of it. The produce from Jersey is termed local, fresh or regional produce.

The States past a law quite a few years ago, to use Fair Trade products in their buildings but refused to add Guernsey produce on it.

Visitors can not understand why more local is not used in eating estabishments.

Beanjar

This seems very wrong. Surely local supermarkets should see the sense in having a local supplier, even if that might mean slightly less choice overall. Do we really need ten different varieties of toms in Waitrose? Supermarkets all pretend to care about 'food miles' and local sourcing yet here they are seemingly forcing a local grower out of business.

jack mitchell

I am at a loss for words! If this gentleman is the last local grower on the island why the hell are local people not going to him for their tomatoes? WHAT IS THE POINT of buying imported tomatoes when they are grown withing a couple of miles AND DON'T SAY COST because I will NOT believe you! The consumer is crazy, and wholly responsible for the downfall of local business such as this one.

I send Mr Le Page my best wishes and sincerely hope that orders will now come in!

healthy

Some supermarkets like Forest Stores are very good at supporting Guernsey growers and some definately are not. One of them begins with M & S and the other W. although the latter does have some Jersey produce I notice.

Does part of the problem lie in the product itself? I am sure quality is good but do people prefer the taste of imported vine tomatoes etc.? I think you can get about 10 varieties in some stores from all over the place.

The othe factor n favour of local is food miles. Local produce travels less distance to reach the customer therefore it's fresher and better for you. It's also less carbon pollution through less freight travelling distance. It's ridiculous these vegetables that are flown into the Uk. Eat by the seasons!

Guernsey doesn't really trump its own produce. Look at our crab, another example, I know some visitors have said it's the best in the world!

Dave Gorvel

If I was to do a list of shops which support Guernsey produce in order:

1/Farmers Markets

2/Hedge Veg?

3/Forest Stores

4/ Co Op

7/Waitrose

8/Sandpiper

11/Alliance

12/M&S

I have left gaps for obvious reason.

Weed

This is a shame. If the supermarkets can't come up with a plan to keep this business afloat then it will be a sad day for Guernsey. I hope something gets sorted quickly. I'm sure the publicity for any supermarket chain would be worth its weight in gold. It would made a good news story and people would be inclined to support whoever steps up to the plate.

I think Guernsey should do something out of the ordinary to prop up our failing economy. Tolerating cannabis use, like the model adopted in Amsterdam, would net lots of revenue and could be the answer. The money generated in tourism would be much welcomed and the cannabis could be taxed heavily by the government.

islander

A true guernsey grower who has grown tomatoes for a living.

Many growers sold out when profit margins dropped allowing cheap importation to supermarkets,hotels,etc.The reason for so many derelic vineries.

I salute you Tony to showing true guernsey grit of going on for so long in a dying industry due to greed of others.

Jon

Such a shame, it's the same with other vegetables - I'm sure I saw potatoes from Israel in M&S the other day.

GUERN TO THE DOGS

The rock is slowly imploding the banks will be next, cheaper alternatives elsewhere just like growing and tourism.

are but yes a

Tony is to growing what frankel was to horse racing.

Guern Lass

We try to get hedge veg as much as poss - cheaper and very fresh

Caroline

What is Guernsey now, no greenhouses with tomatoes, no hedge veg, no honesty boxes, no local flowers, OH YES just remembered, Waitrose, Tescos in Alliance, Iceland, etc., etc., Might just as well open MacDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicked, Burgerland, and on and on and on, oh dont forget, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Aldi, Asda, I could go on but it is my bedtime, Guernsey NO MORE.

Bry

Not many of you will remember when Guernsey tomatoes were grown in steamed ground fertilised with vraic. Chemicals destroyed all that. Naturally grown tomatoes (without chemicals) in back gardens are the only toms that come anywhere near those world famous Guernsey tomatoes of ancient times, as far as taste is concerned.

I admire Mr Le Page for his efforts on your behalf. It must have been getting harder and harder for him to make a quid.

Election Issues

This is madness as well as being sad! Buying tomatoes from supermarkets that are all the same size and shape...from other countries...all year round...in plastic punnets that must be recycled!

As we haven't got a market any more....could Mr Le Page open some kind of 'farm shop' where we could buy these Guernsey tomatoes directly from him? Our supermarkets should have 'buy local' stalls promoting locally grown produce including these tomatoes grown by Mr Le Page.

Could we have brightly coloured stalls selling these tomatoes and other local produce for all those people arriving and leaving on cruise ships...to sell Guernsey as a place...many may like what they see and will want to return here to spend money in our hotels, restaurants and shops?

markB had a great idea of growing hot chillies. We could export Guernsey sun dried chillies and tomatoes! If Jersey can sell their milk to China...why cant we???

Dave Gorvel

Support Abbatoir market,Stop the Supermarket false PR " we want to buy more local" and they do have "buy local stalls."

Farmers markets in the evenning similar to St Peters Country and Vale ones who sell your produce for you on commission basis.

Exported Jalipeno chillies for 5 years and had good prices until the toms slumped and to many grew them for export. They do grow like weeds and if you have not time to pick, ripened reds get better prices.

A.J.

I think Mr Le Page might have a problem with the 'Environment Department' if he applied for change of use for one of his Packing sheds to be used a a market stall.There lies one of the major problems trying to run a business in Guernsey.Good luck Tony!

Election Issues

A.J.

I agree.....but maybe a market could be re-introduced and set up at the old slaughter house building.....share it with the old wooden remains of Asterix??

Island Wide Voting

Sorry to rain on everyone's parade but if Mr Le Page is / was growing tomatoes in 4.5 acres of glass and employing 15 staff, no amount of orders from Channel Island shops will be sufficient to take his full whack of produce

He needs very large orders from the UK or he is left with too much crop to get rid of.If as appears to be the case those orders are not forthcoming (at least not at a viable price) he either has to cut down considerably on his acreage and staff numbers and supply only the local markets, or at the age of 74 years call it a day and hope that Environment finally realise ( they seem to be coming around to the idea ) that vineries are no longer the solid leg of the stool they once were and allow him to sell off the land for some useful twenty first century purpose

Election Issues

IWV

Solar farm...photovoltaic power station....

...at L'Etonnellerie Lane, Vale????

rosie

EI Solar farms or photovoltaics ought to go on existing roofs surely rather than take up valuable land space.

Ignorant

You're full of all the above!

Ignorant

Strangely, nothing definitive though!

Island Wide Voting

Well Rosie,what's your answer to that?

Perhaps Neil Shepherd/Bad Donkey might like to chip in here?

rosie

IWV. Quite!…..and PB Falla too. I see our chances of encouraging more people to join in the debate slipping away every time one of these posters adds a comment.

vic ramble

The imported tomatoes are just so much nicer....hence why they are chosen before the inferior local types. Not hard to figure this out really.

Watcher

Never mind Rosie, on January the 8th, 2014, we will see TIG Mk II emerge and rumor has it that any comments that are nasty, personal or verging on the ridiculous will see a digital bomb launched back at the "contributor" to melt his keyboard and reduce his CPU's powers to that of an abacus.

I live in hope.

Michele Day

How about going in the opposite direction. Could a small factory be started for making tomato sauce? It would generate employment as well. You could have Guernsey Tom Sauce which could be as famous as your ice cream. It's sad to see businesses closing because of cheaper imports.

Jamie

I'm loving your way of thinking. Digging it real deep, "man!"

Project Proteus has already encapsulated just that. BUT, we need to have the communication technology infrastructure in place to take advantage. LT has already sold us down the poo-creek-river, and even made the paddles redundant.

Lots of, Project Proteus credentials, catch-up is the order of the new year!

Over to you on this one. DJ Kevin!

Charlie G

Total disgrace to see the way the Island is going ! all to damn easy to import everthing,and what a farce not even having a commercial bakery anymore.Suppose no one wants to get their hands dirty these days, growing to supply the island,madness!!!

"sometimes the best answer,is a more interesting question".

like a kid

the commercial bakery closed after the company who ran it claimed it could not compete with all the cheap imported bread, most of which was being imported by its parent company! the parent will probably sell the bakery for lucrative property development.

Andy

Now we have lost the banking it will be back to farming anyway within 5 years.

GuernseyPremium?

just went to my local coop and all/most of the tomatoes were marked as being from jersey on the shelf, yet the packaging _all_ stated Spain.

I suspect the loose tomatoes marked also as from Jersey on the shelf were from spain also.

With supporters like that..

Election Issues

Buying tomatoes and veg from Jersey....are we mad? The Guernsey Tom???

Surely we have to do something???

Mary Portas...markets are a fantastic way to bring a town to life...people coming together to buy, to sell, to meet, to share and enjoy each others company.

We haven't got a town market any more sadly. Local produce sold at a market (like farmers market) is the freshest and tastiest. No long distance 'food miles'. Less packaging. Good for local economy. Safeguard local jobs. People enjoy the 'atmosphere' of a town market as it is a social occasion, brings the community together and generates new opportunities as well.

Who can get this started to see if it would work or not??

US Investor

Hi,

I was raised in the UK (London) and remember picking up a Guersey Tomato, dipping it in sugar and eating it like an appl, orange, pear, etc. it was standalone and a treat. Five decades later it has no more appeal to me than a really nice tomato from Costco. Am I wrong? Are the tomatoes that I buy when over there not the real McCoy?

You leave Switzerland and it is hard to really enjoy a yoghurt again. You leave Guernsey and milk is not the same. You leave Scotland and Ireland and Salmon is not the same. You leave Italy and it is hard to order certain soft cheeses that are their specialities. You go to Argentina to have your steak cut with a spoon.

I hope that Guernsey can still produce the best tomato in the world, but if it cannot it will be purely a commercial decision as to what tomatoes people in Guernsey choose to buy.

It is a shame to see local businesses close their doors such as bakers and tomato growers and I don't know if the Guersey Authorities actually care. I do know what the US Federal Government did to save, car makers, insurance companies, major banks, etc. Different scale, but same decision making process.

I personally feel that certain Guersey businesses go out of their way to be shut down by their appalling product and services and indeed they will be when young and enthusiastic people are able to open shop.

GuernseyPremium?

just went to Waitrose and all the tomatoes were marked as from Spain on the packaging and the shelf, except for some 6 packs that were marked as from the UK on the shelf so I bought them. On opening them at a later date I read the tiny writing on the front and it stated that they were from...Spain.

Kittycat

I for one would like to see Guernsey become as self sufficient as possible where food is concerned. If I could get all of my groceries from local suppliers then I absolutely would, and I'm sure there are many who agree with me. Imported food should NEVER be allowed to be sold cheaper than local, it's scandalous.

We need a movement to support local growers, farmers and the dairy, and we need to concentrate on making farming and agriculture major local industries again, even if most of what is produced is consumed locally rather than exported - it's better than turning the land into fields for ponies or building luxury housing that nobody can afford. We all know banking is on it's way out and tourism is hardly a reliable industry for us nowadays - put money into farming for goodness sake, we might be relying on it sooner than you think.

Once again, I'm left mourning the loss of our old market building. It was much easier to buy local when we had a proper working market.