The sweetness of homegrown asparagus
Previously imported, asparagus is now being grown at Eassie and Charleton farms in Angus
Once-exotic asparagus is now shipped year-round into the UK from climates far removed from northeast Scotland: the reclaimed Peruvian desert, typically, or the reliable warmth of New Zealand.
It was Sandy Pattullo's Kiwi farming cousins who inspired him to plant it in the suitably sandy soils of Eassie Farm by Glamis 30 years ago, and in spite of unreliable weather, Angus has cultivated a loyal market for this delicate crop which is harvested in late spring and early summer. The Pattullos have built up ten acres of asparagus crowns over three decades, while at Charleton Farm near Montrose it has been grown for over ten years.
As well as the obvious difference in food miles, both growers say the primary benefit of buying local asparagus is the freshness. 'It's definitely better cut and eaten straight away,' says Karin McQuisten of Charleton. 'We keep it in water once it's picked, but after even a day or two it tastes different.' The deterioration that all vegetables begin once picked is particularly noticeable with asparagus, agrees Pattullo. 'Freshness adds to the sweetness. There's no substitute for getting it as near to cutting as possible.'