• Tiptree

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    Tiptree, a village in the heart of Essex, England, is home to the Wilkin family. For nearly 300 years, the Wilkin family has farmed in Tiptree and grows many of its own fruits on its farmland straddling almost 1,000 acres.

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    Present Day

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    The Factory in the 1900’s

    The very first Tiptree conserves were made here in 1885 and to this day the farms cover 850 acres. That’s enough land for around 300 cricket pitches, or 450 baseball grounds. As more imported fruits become available and fruit seasons are extended, English farmers are moving away from fruit to more lucrative crops. Wilkin and Sons take a contrary view, growing more fruit at Tiptree now than ever before. It costs more, but the control it gives us over quality is worth the premium.

    Why do we persist in growing much of our own fruit, when there are usually cheaper imported varieties available? We think that the British climate (generally speaking of course!) means slower ripening fruit which imparts a better flavour. We also reckon that we prefer to do things ourselves anyway, it means we can grow the varieties we want, look after them as we choose and pick them when we think they’re at the peak of their perfection.

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    The Annual Strawberry Harvest, All Pick By Hand

     

    Wilkin & Son Jam factory

    Fruit Picking

    Strawberries are just one example of Tiptree thinking: modern varieties may have more consistent shape, size and colour, but Tiptree strawberries are grown for their flavour and texture. Tiny, intensely flavoured Little Scarlets are grown entirely on the ‘Tiptree’ farms and always used fresh within hours of picking. Wilkin and Sons may well be the only large-scale growers of this wonderful strawberry anywhere in the world.

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    Little Scarlet (on the left) is a very special strawberry, an anachronism (lovely word!) in today’s world. Today, strawberries are quite unlike the tiny, intensely flavoured fruit of two hundred years ago, whereas Little Scarlet strawberry never changed. Grown only at Tiptree, the fruit is difficult to grow, an unpredictable cropper that dislikes extremes of weather and won’t keep once picked. The upside is that Tiptree’s Little Scarlet conserve (James Bond’s preserve of choice) is made only from our own fresh fruit, within hours of it being picked.

     

    Fruits grown at Tiptree include strawberries, raspberries, cherries, loganberries, damsons, greengages, Victoria plums, medlars, mulberries, quinces and rhubarb. Rhubarb? Agreed, it’s not strictly fruit, but it gets used as one and we’re rather proud of our home-grown Timperley Early. The ‘fruit’ is used to make Rhubarb with Ginger Conserve and Rhubarb with Vanilla Conserve. The Mulberry orchard was planted before jam-making began at Tiptree and a young tree can take up to twenty-five years to bear fruit. Now that does require long-term thinking and commitment!

    5,000 tons of Tiptree jams are produced every year and one-third are exported to a host of countries and major overseas markets worldwide – primarily Germany, USA, Japan, and France. Most five-star hotels in Britain, as well as top airlines such as Virgin Atlantic (Upper Class only) and the best known cruise ships, serve Tiptree.

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    The Wilkin family has been involved in the business right from the very first day. The present chairman, Peter Wilkin, has a degree in horticulture and worked on the farm before taking his place on the board of directors. Today his door remains open to employees, he still enjoys an involvement in farming and his regular form of transport is a Land Rover.

     

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    The business is now over 130 years old and the Wilkin family members are still significant shareholders. To maintain its staunch independence, the company will one day be owned by the employees, many of whom live in houses on the estate. Whole families can and do work in the business and several of today’s workforce are following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents too. The company policy is to be best at everything it does.

     

    We operate three tea rooms in Essex, which serve our famous conserves and marmalades.

    We also pay close attention to environmental issues and carefully tend our farms and orchards to ensure ecological balance. We have even converted to using organic growing methods for some crops.

    The company is committed to an integrated environmental and management plan which balances the needs of the environment with operational obligations while ensuring continual improvement in environmental performance, prevention of pollution and compliance with environmental legislation.

    Background : 150th Anniversary at Wilkin & Sons Location : Date : Job No. : Publication : Captions (L-Rght) Picture by Doug Blanks Direct Line 07778 377737

    Her Majesty The Queen visiting Tiptree as part of Tiptree’s 125th Birthday in 2010. Proud holders of a Royal Warrant from the reigning monarch since 1911

    Wilkin & Sons own almost 1,000 acres of farmland in and around the village of Tiptree. The company has moved with the times to meet growing demand for its products, but always with quality and flavour as the prime objective. In 2011 a whole field was planted with sea buckthorn bushes to find out if this fashionable new ‘superfruit’ will bring added benefits to the farm and to the fruit preserving side of the business. Right next to this new plantation is a field of Little Scarlet strawberries, the fruit just as it would have been 125 years ago in Arthur Charles Wilkin’s day. That’s progress.
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    At times difficult, often frustrating but always ultimately satisfying, life in Tiptree without fruit farming is practically unthinkable. Today, the farm grows fruit not only for the preserve-making business but also has a blossoming trade in fresh and frozen fruit for shops.

     

     

  • Tiptree

    The Wilkins have farmed in Tiptree for almost 300 years. Continuously held a Royal Warrant of Appointment for both its preserves and marmalades since 1911. The only known commercial grower of Little Scarlet Strawberries .


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