A blueberry field shows us the best and worst of 2022

In a blueberry field in Perthshire, the best and worst of times can be found.

Farmer Peter Thomson is giving away a crop of blueberries, which would normally be worth millions of pounds, because the cost of growing, picking, packing and transporting the blueberries to the supermarket has made the traditional harvest unviable in 2022.

The value of the crop has fallen from around £3m to £1m. Normally, 200 workers would harvest the crop in Scotland’s traditional ‘Berry Town’ but cheap imports from the southern hemisphere, where genetic versions have replaced the high-value Scottish harvest peculiar to this time of year, means it is no longer makes economic sense to do so.

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Mr Thomson has opened the field up to charities, who will pick the fruit and sell or donate to good causes, with a proportion of the berries now destined for foodbanks.

The blueberry crop tells a story of cost pressures and a shortage of staff played out in many sectors across Scotland, with Brexit plundering the traditional soft fruit workforce and making Scottish farms unable to compete with cheaper foreign imports.

But the crop also tells of human kindness, which we can perhaps see more clearly than before given so much of our way of life is now now squeezed by economic and political forces.

Hundreds of people took part in one recent open day, where pickers gave a donation to collect the berries and raised £4,000 for charity. Similar days are set to follow as the farmer opens up his field to help those who need support the most.

For those, the berries – and the gesture – will seem extra sweet.

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