Prince Charles, or the Duke of Rothesay as he’s known in Scotland, has visited local fruit growers at the Castleton Farm in Aberdeenshire. During his visit, the Duke learned more about how the family business is run and how the 400 plus acres of soft fruit are taken care of.
The Duke was given a tour of the farm, including the blueberry polytunnels and the packhouse on Tuesday The business harvests fruit for nine months of the year and is the most northerly commercial blueberry farm in the world. Specifically, this time of year marks the peak of Scottish blueberry season, which will go on until the end of November. The Duke also visited the cherry orchard, where he witnessed the only fresh cherries currently being harvested in the world.
Last year, the farm picked and packed 8.5 million punnets of premium Scottish soft fruit. Supplying to major UK supermarkets, a majority of the fruit picked goes to Marks & Spencer, Tesco, and Waitrose. Charles was guided through the custom-built packhouse to see how the berries are chilled and packed before they’re distributed to major retailers.
“It was great to be able to share and celebrate the taste and quality of Scotland with The Duke and show off our range of fruit, preserves, ready-made meals and home bakes,” said Anna Mitchell, one of the farm’s owners.
“The team was also really excited by our royal visitor. Castleton Farm is a family business because the Castleton team is our family. This was really highlighted during the pandemic. And with The Duke’s interest in how the business had survived and adapted, it was good to be able to show him Castleton Farm at its best.”
The visit by Prince Charles comes almost a year after a meeting at Birkhall estate with Castleton Farm owners Ross and Anna Mitchell. During the October meeting, the Mitchells spoke to the Duke and other local farmers about how they have adapted their business practices during the global health crisis.
Following his visit to the farm, the Duke visited the House of Dun, a historic National Trust of Scotland property in Montrose, which is opening new installations that tell the stories of hundreds of years of rural life in the County of Angus.