Obituary: Andrew Logan, farmer and pioneer grower

BORN: 24 March, 1940, in Cupar. Died: 30 January, 2015, aged 74, in Cupar.
A giant among vegetable growers who made Scotland a force in the field of broccoli. Picture: ContributedA giant among vegetable growers who made Scotland a force in the field of broccoli. Picture: Contributed
A giant among vegetable growers who made Scotland a force in the field of broccoli. Picture: Contributed

Andrew Logan, who died last week, was a larger than life character who approached all he did with boundless enthusiasm and energy. He was one of the pioneers of vegetable growing in Scotland in the 1970s and saw the trade grow from small beginnings to the major industry it is today.

Farming is a traditional industry but, with his more conservative neighbours looking on with a mixture of envy and hope that some of his ventures would fail, Andrew enjoyed pushing new boundaries.

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He was an early believer in farmers’ co-operating. He was a strong advocate of introducing new production techniques and he was a believer in modern marketing systems.

As is the case with all pioneers, successes were sometimes followed by failures. While he was one of the first to grow fields of broccoli and this venture took off to become a major crop in Scotland, his efforts and those of his colleagues could not make a success of growing fields of tulips. “Why tulips?” some of his neighbour would ask. “Because they are difficult to grow,” was Logan’s response.   

Neither did he believe in small trials of new crops. “Grow 20 acres and then you will know the real challenges and feel the real pain,” was one of his maxims. Again, this philosophy was costly when he was ahead of the market or when the supporting husbandry was not sufficiently developed.

Logan was born and brought up on  the family farm at Dairsie Mains, Cupar, prior to heading off to Strathallan School. He returned to this Perthshire seat of learning in later life as a governor on the Board that oversaw a massive investment in its educational and sporting facilities.

Following school, he gained a diploma at East of Scotland College of Agriculture where his interest in trying to grow the proverbial two ears of corn where one had grown previously was nurtured.

Initially this enthusiasm for increased production and improved husbandry was tried out on the family dairy with the early introduction of imported genetics and subsequent 
performance recording of the results.

The closure of the nearby sugar beet factory in 1970 triggered the search for replacement cash crops and he and a number of like-minded farmers set up a cooperative growing peas, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Some 40 years and several name changes and amalgamations later, this business, now East of Scotland Growers, is one of the largest growers of broccoli in Western Europe.

Inevitably for such an articulate speaker – he was a national speechmaking winner during his young farmer years – he was drawn into farming politics where he became convenor of the National Farmers Union of Scotland soft fruit and field vegetable committee. He also spoke at the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference; a rare honour for a Scottish farmer.

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During his time in Union office, the big political battle was the importation of cheap fruit from Eastern Europe. Logan was one of the first to realise that the future of the Scottish strawberry and raspberry industry lay not in the bottom “pulp” end of the market where the imports were headed, but in supplying the increasingly hungry supermarkets looking for high quality fresh fruit.

His support for agricultural science was recognised by the Scottish Crop Research Institute where he was, for a long number of years, a member of the governing Board.

From his early life, during which he gained a Young Farmer Ambassador Travel award to New Zealand, he enjoyed seeing farming in other parts of the world and he and his wife Margie made many friends on their travels. This range of friends multiplied as their children grew up and followed their own careers in various parts of the world.

Just as he threw himself into his work with total commitment, Logan had the same uncompromising attitude to his social life and long after his colleagues weakened and called time of an evening, he was still in party mood. He is survived by Margie, whom he married in 1966, their three sons and daughter, their spouses and eight grandchildren.

Andrew Logan was larger than life and so leaves a larger gap in his departure from it.