Grower Profile: Nutbourne Nursery

25/07/2014 - 11:35

"It was a million to one chance that I would become a commercial tomato grower," says Gary Griffiths, guiding me around his plant-stuffed glasshouses.

Gary Griffiths from Nutbourne Nursery

Son of a greengrocer, Gary grew up in Tooting, went to school with snooker player Jimmy White and has childhood memories of buying trips to the old Covent Garden and Borough markets.

Now he runs Nutbourne Nursery in a tranquil area of Sussex and is possibly Britain's top grower of specialty tomatoes.

"No-one else is doing the vine tomatoes in mixed boxes – it's a niche product," he says.

Mixed box of vine tomatoes from Nutbourne Nursery

Nutbourne is a family business (his wife Jenny is the model above), with 0.41 hectares of glass and a small, highly skilled team.

The Nutbourne Nursery van

The Nutbourne Nursery team

They grow dozens of varieties, from the bite-sized 'Couer de Pigeon' ('Pigeon Heart') to larger 'Couer de Boeuf' ('Ox Heart').

Bite-sized 'Couer de Pigeon' (Pigeon Heart)  from Nutbourne Nursery

Tomatoes from Nutbourne Nursery

Indeed, the Nutbourne range of tomatoes was featured in our Tomato Product Profile back in May.

Gary says: "We want to produce nice colour in the boxes – stripy fruit like Tiger, striped orange, pink, yellow and dark brown."

'Couer de Boeuf' ('Ox Heart') from Nutbourne Nursery

He trials new varieties each year and is rigorous in selecting only tomatoes that deliver in terms of flavour and yield.

One of their newer lines, for example, is a Pineapple Marmande - yellow with an attractive tinge of pink.

Gary explains that the original concept for their mixed boxes came out of desperation some years ago.

"We took a big gamble by growing all these varieties. We put our heart and souls into it," he says. "Every variety has a different cultural requirement… It would be much easier selling one [variety] to a supermarket."

Their state-of-the art operation is a hydroponic system in two glasshouses, in production from March to November.

State of the art hydrolic system at Nutbourne Nursery

The vines can reach 30ft long by the end of their season and grow up to 2ft per week. Pollination is by imported bees.

Imported bees at Nutbourne Nursery

Staff  picking from Nutbourne Nursery

His team pick three times a week, with deliveries to a range of distributors across England plus a circuit of local shops.

Tomatoes ready to be delivered out  from Nutbourne Nursery

An order  from Nutbourne Nursery

Gary drives the tomatoes to London himself: "We almost lead the market in Covent Garden. We think our core strength is picking and shipping – we don't have any fruit going into cold stores. It's about attention to detail from beginning to end."

Over the last decades, Gary has seen many similar-sized growers nearby shut down or switch product in the face of stiff competition from abroad and escalating energy, water and labour costs. 

"I have seen them all go by the wayside over the years. It's only been my sheer stubbornness that’s stopped me from going that way."

Nutbourne Nursery, West Sussex
01798 812902
@NutbourneTomato

Available for sale at the Market from wholesalers Bruce White and Premier Fruits and from wholesale distributors Allison Risebro, Cream of the Crop and First Choice.

Comment (26):

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Can you please tell me if you

Can you please tell me if you use fertilizer/pesticides etc or if your tomatoes are organic and GM free? Thank you!

We don't use pestsisides we

We don't use pestsisides we use biological control. They are not organic they are grown in Rockwool slabs. They are GM free.

Hi Hanna I only JUST saw

Hi Hanna

I only JUST saw your reply. Thanks for letting me know. Sounds good to me. :-)

Dear Gary, we'd like to get

Dear Gary,
we'd like to get in touch because of our common passion for tomatoes. Our cooperative (near 100 farmers) FARO is located to south-east part of Sicily. Our core business is datterino and ciliegino IGP (protected geographical indication, a quality trademark), marinda and costoluto.
We don't look for great market positioning, but we would get some "quality niche"
Could you visit our website and if you are going to contact us our addresses are:
www.coopfaro.it
+393338613160
giuseppefailla@coopfaro.it

Thank you for your consideration
Giuseppe Failla

We live in Billingshurst and

We live in Billingshurst and used to be able to buy your tomatoes at Budgens however now they are shut can you tell me if there are any other shops locally who stock your tomatoes?

Thanks

Hi Trish They are available

Hi Trish

They are available for sale at the Market from wholesalers Bruce White and Premier Fruits and from wholesale distributors Allison Risebro, Cream of the Crop and First Choice.

However if you are looking to make small private purchases may I suggest contacting them directly to see where they supply. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato

Kind regards
Kathryn

Good afternoon. I was asked

Good afternoon. I was asked by my 97 year old mother to try to find her a tomato we ate when I was a child sixty years ago. I have searched for this tomato for all over the world. I had one very kind gentleman in Italy who sent me seeds of eight of his heirloom tomatoes in the hope that one of them might be what I was looking for. I grew them but alas, they were not the ones. My tomato was distinctive in flavour, about the size of an ordinary English tom - smooth skin, generally uniform in size, red in colour but with very distinctive green streaks eminating from where the tomato joined the stalk. The green streaks fanned out from the top of the tomato almost symetrically and almost reached halfway down the tomato. They were firm but the skins were easily eaten and never left you with a mouthful of skin. The striking thing about this tomato was the flavour - it was so distinctive - so flavoursome that with a lump of cheese, you hardly needed the bread! Would you possibly know what this particular variety was so I can please an elderly lady and transport her back to the 1950's - 1960's. Loved the section about you on James' Martin Home Comforts programme. Best wishes Jane

Hi Jane I've sent you an

Hi Jane
I've sent you an email with some details to relating to your lost tomato. I hope this helps you track down the variety you're looking for!
Best wishes
Claire

Please do you supply Goodwood

Please do you supply Goodwood Farm Shop

Hi Gill Nutbourne tomatoes

Hi Gill
Nutbourne tomatoes are available for sale at the Market from wholesalers Bruce White and Premier Fruits and from wholesale distributors Allison Risebro, Cream of the Crop and First Choice. To find out where else Nutbourne supply, I would recommend contacting them directly. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato or call: 01798 812 902
Best wishes
Claire

Hello Please can you give any

Hello

Please can you give any idea where I can buy Lemon Tiger tomato seeds.

Many Thanks.

Really enjoyed the piece shown on TV with James Martin.

Hi Ron, We do not sell any

Hi Ron, We do not sell any seeds here at the Market, but you could try and contact the Nursery directly: via Twitter @NutbourneTomato or call: 01798 812 902 and they may be able to help you. I hope this helps. Best wishes, Kathryn

Hi Clair, as I love to grow

Hi Clair, as I love to grow toms I was interested to read your reply to the question from Jane Gathercole on Wed, 06/01/2016 - 16:29. I was wondering if you would also pass on to me the details relating to the lost tomato variety.

Also, is there a shop at Nutbourne Nursery to purchase produce direct?

Regards
Steve

Hi Steve, They are available

Hi Steve,
They are available for sale at the Market from wholesalers Bruce White and Premier Fruits and from wholesale distributors Allison Risebro, Cream of the Crop and First Choice.
However if you are looking to make small private purchases may I suggest contacting them directly to see where they supply. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato and number is: 01798 812902.
With regards to the lost variety, we put Jane in touch with Nutbourne Nursery but I am not sure she identified the variety.
Kind regards
Kathryn

Good morning please can u

Good morning please can u contact 07546024849 I had contacted you previously regarding a visit
Since then I lost ;destroyed my phone lol
Regards rob x employee of secretts farm direct thanks again

Hi Robert, I will pass on

Hi Robert, I will pass on your number to my colleague Claire who will be in touch today to arrange a tour for you. If you want to contact her directly her number is 020 7501 3495.
Best wishes, Kathryn

Dear Sir, We came to know

Dear Sir,

We came to know your contact details from Horty Daily news magazine and would like to take this opportunity to introduce our selves.

We are a Sri Lankan company involved in manufacturing and exporting of coco peat and coco chips growing media
in different forms to suit the application.

General product range is ,

Propagation disk
Briquettes
5kg bales
25kg bales and
Grow bags

we specialize in low ec and buffered material for disks and grow bags.

Hope this mail will be beneficial with regard to your business.

If interested please do write us to send more details and prices.

Warm Regards,

Nishantha Dias

Managing Director
Dandy Coir Ltd,
Colombo
Sri Lanka

Hi Nishantha The traders here

Hi Nishantha

The traders here would not grow their own produce, so I assume you were looking to contact Nutbourne Nursery directly. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato and number is: 01798 812902. Good luck.

Best wishes, Kathryn

Hello, We would like to

Hello,

We would like to contact you to present our range of Ecotwine which is a fully compostable alternative to plastic twine. Our Ecotwine is quickly becoming the real alternative to plastic twine.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Kind Regards
Paul

Hi Paul, The traders here

Hi Paul, The traders here would not grow or pack their own produce, so I assume you were looking to contact Nutbourne Nursery directly. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato and number is: 01798 812902. Best wishes, Kathryn

Hi i live in wiltshire in

Hi i live in wiltshire in between bath and salisbury. Is there anywhere near hear where i can purchase your tomatoes?

Thanks lisa

Hi Lisa, I assume you were

Hi Lisa, I assume you were looking to contact Nutbourne Nursery directly. Their twitter is : @NutbourneTomato and number is: 01798 812902. Best wishes, Kathryn

Do you sell tomatoes on line

Do you sell tomatoes on line ?

Hi Elizabeth, No we do not

Hi Elizabeth, No we do not sell any produce online. These tomatioes are available for sale at the Market from wholesalers Bruce White and Premier Fruits and from wholesale distributors Allison Risebro, Cream of the Crop and First Choice. You can find all of their details under the traders directory: http://www.newcoventgardenmarket.com/traders , Best wishes

Hi We own Arties Kitchen

Hi
We own Arties Kitchen Tapas restaurant in chichester and are looking for local suppliers. Would it be possible for you to send mea price list for my chef to have a look at?
Kind regards
David and John

Hi David and John To enquire

Hi David and John
To enquire about a price list, you’ll need to either get in touch with the team at Nutbourne directly or with one of the suppliers here at New Covent Garden Market who stock their tomatoes. You can find the details for both at the end of this blog - just let me know if you have any problems!