strawberries and plastic: are tunnels worth the eyesore?

Over the last twenty years the huge majority of the UK strawberry crop has moved from open fields to the protection and intensification afforded by hundreds of acres of polytunnels, largely in Kent and Herefordshire. Plastic can advance a crop by perhaps two weeks, but the great advantage is the protection it gives from the vagaries of a British summer. Fruit must be picked dry to avoid bruising and to give a reasonable shelf life. Even more importantly, persistent dampness leads to a build-up of fungal disease, particularly botrytis, which can reduce a good berry to a foul tasting pulp in a matter of hours.

Our strawberries are grown extensively on high ridges at wide spacing which, in a normal year, gives enough airflow to dry dews and rain before botrytis sets in. There can be no doubt that polytunnels are a blot on the landscape; the question is whether they are justified by the economic and environmental benefit they bring by reducing wastage, extending the UK season, excluding exports and thus reducing food miles. For twenty years I have stubbornly persisted with growing outdoors, with the result that we have a relatively short season and, over the last few years, have not been able to pick up to a third of the fruit. Initially I was convinced that growing outdoors gave better flavour, but now I am not so sure and wonder if I have been overly dogmatic in my resistance. Across the five regional farms we would need eight acres of tunnels to provide a good supply of strawberries for the 45,000 homes we deliver to each week. Your views would be welcome.

Guy Watson


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57 responses to “strawberries and plastic: are tunnels worth the eyesore?

  1. Appreciate the dilemma. My stance would be that Riverford is in a position to re-educate its customers about seasons, limited availability and the trials of growing stuff in a natural way. I may be in the minority – I may not be – but I appreciate and value the seasonality, the mud and hearing about the challenges faced in doing it naturally. I reckon I’m lucky to get strawberries for a few weeks a year!

  2. I agree with Ali I prefer to have excellent quality strawberries as a treat! I don’t mind the shortages in bad years as I know you treat us well in good years!

    Natural is best in my opinion.

  3. Back home in Oregon, we have some of the reddest, plumpest, juiciest strawberries around. And it’s understood that they A. have no shelf life and B. have a very short growing season. When you see a roadside stand, you pull over. You use every last penny you have, and buy as many as you can get. And you can and freeze like there’s no tomorrow and eat strawberry shortcake until you never want to see another berry again. You don’t get that from plastic tunnels. And the nice, regular, blemish-free berries made in tunnels and shipped out to shops…they just don’t have any flavor.

  4. emma henderson

    I’m with the gorge-while-they’re-in-season camp. When I was growing up in NZ we all grew strawberries in the backyard, and they were available for a 2 week period over christmas (our summer) – they were a massive treat and we stuffed ourselves silly and made jam while we could… I miss those days of excitement when various things came into season. I haven’t been into a supermarket since I started getting my riverford boxes, and I was SO excited on sunday when i logged on and discovered strawberries had shown up… While I appreciate that polytunnels have their use, they are a blot on this gorgeous landscape and I think they should be kept for necessities…

  5. If there were no dry stone walls now and someone came along to build one, there would be someone else complaining that they were an eyesore and broke up the natural beauty of the landscape. Imagine butting a dull grey pile of rocks in a boring long line right over that hill!Now we preserve them.
    Poly-tunnels are no more an eyesore than, and last about as long as, a field of monoculture rapeseed, and both when looked at the right way can be a thing of beauty. There will be old men in 80 years time reminiscing about the delight of seeing the tunnels go up in spring and knowing strawberries were on the way.

  6. Laura Waterton

    Agree polytunnels little worse than fleecing, and I think part of Riverford’s role could be in the re-education that polytunnels really can help a farmers’ livelihood. For commercial growers, there must be nothing worse than seeing a precious crop destroyed by frost, or disease, or four weeks of torrential rain in June! ;) Tunnels don’t always mean heating, and crops can still be grown in the ground – doesn’t have to be tables if you don’t want. On the issue of seasonality too, the understanding persists that strawberries are only ‘in season’ in June, whereas ‘ever-bearer’ varieties mean that we can have delicious, ‘seasonal’ strawberries in July, August and even into September, no problems (and actually quite exciting!). Maybe it’s just because the supermarkets don’t big up these later crops, tending to stick to the likes of Elsanta and Sonata. So, good point of difference potential for Riverford et al.

  7. The flavour is primarily dependent on the soil and variety. If the berries are grown table top, or in tunnels in bags, they do not have the same flavour as those grown in the soil (in good growing areas). Irrigation to get bigger berries also reduces flavour. Varieties are not developed for flavour, but for regualr shape & longlevity.

  8. Polytunnels may not be nice to look at, but I think the argument applies in the same way as for wind farms: not nice to look at, but I would prefer them any day compared to having a nuclear reactor or CO2-belching generators of any kind. We have to compromise if we really think it is so necessary to carry on with our current lifestyle.
    My real concern is: what kind of berries does a polytunnel produce? I suspect they may turn out to be more like the bland tasteless products sold by the supermarkets. If that is the case, then I would rather have the short season with great tasing fruit.

  9. Regarding taste, I have been buying some English strawberries from Waitrose in the last month. I guess they are grown in polytunnels but, on the whole, and by not choosing the Elsanta variety, they have been almost as tasty as those straight from the field on a warm summer’s day. I’d prefer home grown with polytunnels if this protects the farmer’s livelihood and ability to sell a higher proportion of the crop.

  10. Growing strawberries in polytunnels doesn’t mean they won’t be seasonal – the crop’s only going to advance by a couple of weeks. The improvement in yield due to reduction in waste would be a huge financial advantage though, and would perhaps free up some ground for other crops too if you can harvest a greater number of strawberries per acreage. Growing in the ground to retain the characteristics of the local soil sounds attractive. Do polytunnels come up and down with the seasons or do they go up and stay up? I suspect the latter which isn’t very attractive. Overall though A polytunnel trial sounds a good idea.

    • I agree with Anne – this isn’t about changing seasonality, it’s about reducing wastage and optimising the use of a scarce resource – the local land we have to grow on.
      With the population exploding and transportation costs likely to also rise dramatically as “Peak Oil” kicks in, we’re going to have to continually find ways to feed ourselves more efficiently, and if using polytunnels enables us to do that and keep our ethics in tact, then I say it’s a “no-brainer” decision..

  11. Hi, I drive past acres of tunnels on way to parents at Shobdon. I don’t find them an eyesore and if they help keep the farmers in business, reduce air freight etc. that is fine. Ironically I to this day avoid ones from a certain Herefordshire grower but this is due to bad press they had several years ago about ‘mistreating’ their foreign workers!

  12. I think it’s about finding the balance between doing things the right way and advancing where we can. If you can extend the growing season and reduce waste whilst maintaining your ethical growing ethos – I say why not. I actually quite like the thought of all those tunnels, knowing that something wonderful is going on in there!

  13. It seems obvious to me – a third of the delicious strawberries being lost? Noo! Please use the tunnels instead! :)

  14. Strawberries are not a staple. For me they still have the status of a wonderful seasonal treat. We have just picked the first from our little patch and they were exquisite.

    While I appreciate the economic arguments for polytunnels, I feel Riverford should keep strawberries as an additional request item and not aim to get them into the boxes.

    PS What is the average lifespan of a polytunnel??

  15. Judith Martin

    Don’t do it! Bertram is quite wrong to suggest a polytunnel is no more of an eyesore than a dry stone wall would once have seemed – the walls are of natural materials that go with the land. It’s about local distinctiveness and sense of place.

    Polytunnels sprout anywhere, are hideous if left to decay and blow about (I know you wouldn’t do that, but the fact remains they are carbon-based), and destroy the sense of seasonality and appropriateness that comes from growing crops in the right place and at the right time. Drystonewalling is a traditional skill to be cherished and retained – I doubt you could say that about putting up a polytunnel. Growing stuff is about so much more than kilos per £.

    What happens if you get some bug or fungus in a polytunnel? It seems more likely to romp through. I presume any wastage currently goes back on the land as compost.

    It’s tough that governments refuse to educate people about food (maybe France and Italy are better) so it’s down to people like Riverford, with a small ripple-in-the-pond effect. We know it works – how many box schemes or farmers’ markets were there 10 years ago?

    The idea to keep strawberries as a request item is a good one.

    • Is not everything carbon based (including decomposing strawberry plants)? I think it is not the polytunnel that is the problem but how it is used and I have absolute faith that Riverford would use a polytunnel to the overall best advantage to the environment first

  16. If polytunnels prevent crop loss then that could be a plus. If they can be ‘out of sight’, rather than along road sides they might be more aesthetically acceptable.
    I agree that keeping strawberries ‘special’ as seasonal is important, and as ‘extras’ rather than as part of the weekly boxes. Perhaps e could also be encouraged to grow our own if we could also buy 1 or 2 individual plants to go in pots/window box. We have 2 plants now in their 3rd year and so do our small grand-daughters. A great incentive for them to learn about looking after plants.

  17. Have just done an article pertinent to this on Ecologist Mag’s site,hosted at;

    http://bit.ly/a9xLWx

    Energy load of polytunnels versus imports from Spain or similar is a big issue.With 70 million people our choices are less……
    Ultimately Strawberries are a classic local crop not well suited to several decades of breeding effort to make them travellers.The flavour,like Tomatoes,varies according to soil but also sunlight at critical times. Smaller fruit varieties likely to be better flavour Eg Alpine or Cherry Tomatoes. Still the same amount of DNA powering the fruit regardless of size it is bred to.

  18. Selling us a couple of plants for the windowsill sounds like a fabulous solution (specially for those of us without a garden) – very very good idea. Then we can just have a topup when we want to gorge ourselves.

    I don’t have strong views on the polytunnels, but losing a third of the crop does seem a pity. Praps a mix? – polytunnels aren’t that unattractive in themselves, it’s just when you get miles of them on a landscape with nothing else that it starts to look a bit army base.

    Can I just also say that I got my first box last Friday and I’m *so* happy with it – much much better than going forlornly round London looking for organics that aren’t a fortnight old. Really delicious, well priced and timesaving. One query – when are you likely to get celery?

  19. My main concern would be the production and disposal of large quantities of plastic. Aside from that, it seems to me that if polytunnels reduce wastage then that’s a good thing. I personally don’t find them too much of an eyesore. It has been commented that people shouldn’t expect too many strawberries. I agree with that up to a point (I always stick to British ones that are in season or thereabouts) but strawberries are a healthy food so it is surely a good thing if more people eat more of them, provided that happens in an environmentally-acceptable manner. They would still be a summer treat even with polytunnels. Inbetween Riverford ones I sometimes stock up on Driscoll Jubilee ones from M&S which are grown in tunnels (I checked out the grower) and they are very sweet and tasty. I suspect that variety and soil quality are more important in producing a good taste than tunnel or no tunnel. As to freshness, no strawberries delivered by any means will ever be as fresh as if you pick them yourself and eat them immediately.Maybe Riverford and associated farms could have a pick-your-own area of open-grown strawberries?

  20. Getting your jollies from gazing at the countryside is as bad or as good as gazing at porn.

    Bring on the season expanding polytunnel!

  21. I understand the dilemma and living as an expat and missing the English countryside it is easy to romanticise. I think flavour comes first but if that criteria is met, if the demand is there people are going to buy strawberries. If Riverford has them they’ll buy from you, if not they will buy from somewhere else (possibly with less ethical stance and more food miles). Is there a way of improving the look of poly-tunnels? Do they have to be white? Could they be green and less conspicious? What about growing something over them? If poly tunnels are the way forward we should look at making them the better.

  22. For me this issue is about 2 things, taste and waste. I agree with all of the comments that Strawberries are a seasonal treat and should continue to be so but with the vagaries of the British Summer ( which is going to become even more unpredictable with global warming) it seems pointless to me to use valuable organic resources to grow a crop which you could ultimately have to scrap.
    I think Riverford have the opportunity to work with the manufacturers to develop a less carbon based, environmentally friendly material which gives the same protection qualities of plastic, but is long lasting and blends better into the landscape.
    Certainly I am not in favour of swapping to a tasteless high cropping variety of strawberry which suits life in a polytunnel

  23. One of the things I most admire about you is your “stubborn persistence” and that you are “dogmatic in your resistance”. This is something no-one has mentioned but it seems to me that whenever I am happily settled with a good ethical provider or supplier, be it of food or anything else, they either sell out (not you!) or let things start chipping away (possibly you on this question?). There is a very real question here and I have every sympathy about loss of crops, which I certainly do not intend to dismiss. However, I think there is a massive education process to be gone through on the journey we will have to take in the descent from peak oil, and that is not only that things are seasonal and we should stay as closely adapted to that as our clever techniques will allow, but that the clever techniques must be limited to those that are sustainable. Plastic just aint. Don’t cop out, please, keep the education coming because we are increasingly going to need it.

    I agree with those on here who have said that it increases the joy if the availability is limited – I feel no joy from seeing strawberries and cherries in the supermarkets at Christmas (and blackberries from Mexico in Waitrose a few weeks ago when you can gather them soon from roadsides and along rail routes is enough to make me cry) and I see no reason for them to become a box item. Let’s make the most of them every time they appear for the short time that they do. I really believe people would enjoy food so much more if they associated the joy of it with a particular time approaching, like looking forward to asparagus or mussels. I love Christmas pudding and mince pies and that is precisely the reason I never eat them except at Christmas.

  24. I agree with re-educating the public about taste and waste. If I see Elsanta type supermarket strawberries – I boycott them! We have to help people to realise that there are fruits out there with real taste and with a limited season. Polytunnels are NOT the way i want my countryside to be dressed. It has enough problems already without adding this!
    PS Are the unpicked strawberries really entirely lost? Can’t they be juiced or smoothies or jammed???

  25. From a business perspective losing a third of a crop seems unsustainable in the long term. So in my mind there are 2 options – polytunnels or no strawberries. I know that if you didn’t supply strawberries during June/July, I personally would buy my strawberries elsewhere and I am sure most would have been nurtured under plastic. Polytunnels are a blot on the landscape but there are far worse blots I can think of that do not provide a tenth of the benefits that a Riverford crop can provide.

  26. I have visited the Isle of Wight twice. First in 1943, when I was aged eight, and my father, who was a Major in the Royal Artillery had obtained a special dispensation for my mother, my brother and I spent three weeks on the island. We stayed in a small pub in the village of Arreton, and I didn’t go back there till the year 2002, when a friend whose job meant he had to live on the island asked me down for a long weekend.

    The Pub was still there, and served wonderful food. Afterward we went for a drive up to Arreton Downs, and I commented — I have an extremely good memory! — thatt I did not recall the large lakes in the southern part of the island. My friend laughed, and said that these were poly tunnels. To that extent, such tunnels are an eyesore.

    However, I have always been an “organic Gardner”, as were my parents before me, possibly because I was brought up on a farm. I am only too well aware of the problems caused by “frost pockets” and their opposites, such as Abbotsbury in Dorset, where I now live.

    During the past 20 years I have become more and more concerned with “global warming”. My views are shared, to a certain extent, by thy brother who is an Emeritus Professor at Imperial College, A book he wrote as a retirement hobby “the Wineland around Britain: past, present, & prospective” in which he touches on Climate changehas enjoyed far larger sales than he ever expected.

    We have discussed “global warming” on a number of occasions. Accepting that climates tend to be cyclical — for example the “Little Iceage in England during the time of Pepys — he feels very strongly, as a Sedimentologist, that we do ourselves and the World a great disservice by throwing out millions of tons of Carbon Dioxide and other man-made actions which appear to be detrimental. Regrettably, herds of Cows are amongst the offenders!

    I think you are fortunate Riverfordin the site you have available for growing strawberries. Having said this, I believe think that, unsightly though polytunnels are, anything which improves the yield and quality of the crop, and reduces transport costs and effects is something we must learn to put up with.

    In the past 10 years Nature has shown us her power, in tsunamis, quakes and Ash clouds. Are we wise to attempt to further tease her by man-made alterations!

    John W Selley

    Portland

  27. There is a balance and loosing a third of the crop is very wasteful and costly. Stay with full flavour varieties, take care with technique to avoid tunnel issues, stay organic and enjoy more lovely flavoursome strawberries. Feeling guilty on the principles front? donate some of the profits to charity. That way we we can all win! the long term.

  28. fiona hamilton walker

    I grow strawberries on my allotment naturally and organically and really feel that they have a far superior taste to anything shop bought. I pick regularly before the woodlice and slugs can get them.If polytunnels stop this flavour then don’t go there….

  29. Cynthia Wenden

    There are points for & against- I think its important to stick with food in season as much as possible but we also need to consider the farmers’ livelihood. As far as the appearance is concerned – the landscape has always evolved to fit in with the needs of the population- what about the Industrial Revolution ? Also, whilst looking after the appearance of our countryside we have to remember what we as a nation of consumers ( exempting Riverford customers of course!) are doing to the environment in Africa and other countries to support our need for what we want, when we want it. I think polytunnels are a bit like wind farms- not the most attractive sites , but can be very useful. However, I must admit, I live in London so rarely have to look at them.

  30. Please don’t do them! Polytunnels are the Dark Satanic Mills of our time. It makes me laugh to see farmers complaining about Wind Turbines and Pylons- these are works of art compared to polytunnels. I travel a lot around Britain and areas such as the Carse of Gowrie which are traditional soft fruit growing areas have been hideously disfigured by polytunnels. I would happily pay more and have less crop/season.

  31. We have many big challenges ahead and I don’t believe this is one of them. Wasting crops just doesn’t seem sensible. No one is suggesting this will mean stawberrys all the year round, just a slightly longer season and less waste. 21st century farming, organic style. I can’t comment on the affect on flavour, but if necessary I believe a small reduction is worthwhile. Make Riverford strawberries more expensive and with a shorter season and alot of people will just buy them from somewhere else. Guy Watson’s comments on the struggling profitability of Riverford means poly tunnels are necessary Aiming for utopian farming with no environmental impact whatsoever is not what we should be doing if we want mainstream society to buy into organic food. Let’s get on an solve the really big problems. Use the tunnels.

  32. I’m in the flavour and practicality camp. If polytunnels don’t compromise the flavour and extend the growing season, than go for it. And no, I don’t think they’re that much of an eyesoar on the countryside. My priorities are organic, local, and wildlife which I think you can still get with polytunnels, so I don’t mind what they look like.

  33. Tunnels are definitely worth it! If you add up the savings in land planted, petrol saved in not shipping things out of UK season and the lessening of spoilt crops, how can it be anything but a bonus. Farms aren’t wild woodland, they’re meant to look like a production setup. Leave the woodlands wild and plant less acreage by using polytunnels.

  34. I would support the use of the polytunnels on practical grounds, if it helps the Co-op financially by producing a more reliable crop. I accept the fact that eco-friendly food production has to compromise in some ways to compete in a modern marketplace. I’m not sure that polytunnels reduce the flavour. As for being a blot on the landscape, well so are wind turbines and quite a few other green innovations.

  35. appart from the visiual impact, which is debatable, I think tunnels make sense. They improve the crop (season length and resistance to pests and the weather) with minimal immediate environmental impact . For me the biggest issue is the longer term impact of using of plastic – are there biodegradable alternatives such as paper or other materials? Does the use of recycled plastic lessen the footprint? And if the eyesore is a problem can you get different, more harmonsious colours than the rows of bright white?

  36. Trying to save crops is a natural instinct – if you think protection is necessary then try it out – if the problem is plastic covering the landscape then is it possible to think in terms of arrangements of shelter screens that allow good air flow but provide some protection? If tunnels are the only answer what non-plastic materials can be used? Could you create a small level of funding to encourage design students and recent graduates to propose some possible solutions?

  37. I really don’t want to see any organic farmer loosing vital income due to the vagaries of our climate, if it can be prevented. I agree that poly tunnels are a real eyesore but I assume they would only be up for a few months each year and in different fields in each year due to crop rotation. I’m confident that Riverford would research the most environmentally friendly plastics etc to use. I also wondered if its possble to quickly remove tunnels say a week before the strawberries are ready, and allow them to finish ripening naturally and develop that outdoor sunkissed flavour?

  38. what a wonderful amount of comments, obviously polytunnels polarise people. I am in the against camp since 8 acres sounds like rather a lot. Congrats on delivering to 45,000 homes; have noticed that you are advertising in Living Earth so expect to see the figure increase… good for you.

  39. Given that I don’t actually know what 8 acres looks like on the ground would it be possible for you to say how many tunnels would be needed to cover that area and what there dimensions would be? Also what about a carbon footprint calculation – making, building and running the polytunnel (including replacing plastic) versus trucking them from somewhere better suited to growing them. As one of the comments said if we don’t get them from you the chances are most people will buy them from somewhere else who may care a lot less about environmental impacts

  40. A couple of years ago my wife and I drove from the north to the south of Spain on the motorways on the east side of the country. For virtually the entire route (and it’s a very long drive) all we could see when looking east was a sea of white plastic – polytunnels from motorway to the Mediterranean. It was a visual disaster and absolutely appalling; the Spanish have completely wrecked that part of their countryside.

    Please let’s not do the same over here; we don’t have enough countryside left for that sort of abomination. I’d happily ban all polytunnels from the UK; let the Spanish destroy their country if they want to, but restrict British strawberries to the normal growing season and grow them outdoors.

  41. Having recently read Shaun Chamberlin’s ”
    The Transition Timeline” and Rob Hopkins “The Transition Handbook” and the issues and link between Peak Oil and Climate Change. These books have given me hope that we can implement a strategy to improve our lives post Peak Oil but imply that we are starting a little too late. I am now in agreement with them and of the opinion that everyone should be reskilling themselves in order to help their children and grandchildren as we deal with energy descent. We should ALL be growing food, whether it be strawberries, fruit, veg, orchards, waltnut trees etc wherever we can find a spare piece of land. This will be in anticipation of unaffordable oil prices and untimately not having enough oil to import goods from abroad let alone even bringing them up from Devon. Some talk of there being about 35 years worth of oil left and the Energy return on energy invested from various new energy ideas not being enough. Can we afford to use the worlds remaining scarce oil reserves on making plastic polytunnels?

    • I agree but growing organic and sustainable food as agricultural fertilisers and pesticides all require large amounts of hydrocarbons in one form or another!

  42. The use of plastic in agriculture is a difficult one. However we trust Riverford to make the right choice here, because we know that its use is very carefully considered, and not just done with a thought to profit only.
    We love your strawfberries and if it’s only a short season then that’s OK. However waste of crops needs to be taken into consideration.

  43. I believe the flavour of strawberries is overwhelmingly determined by: variety, picking when perfectly ripe and then delivering quickly to the consumer. A lot of commercial varieties (in general) are grown for shape and shelf life etc., never mind the taste!! The best strawberries I have tasted were bought in a market in the Dordogne – I expect they were grown by a local farmer and picked that morning, and probably grown in a very sunny field. I doubt very much whether growing under plastic/glass vs. open air makes ANY difference to flavour – we may like to think it does. But light is light. For example, I cannot taste the difference between open air grown Gardeners’ Delight (tomatoes) and greenhouse ones. Perhaps you should do an experiment…?
    Polytunnels are an eyesore but if they extend a season, reduce imports/food miles and retain local jobs then I can live with that. I suppose reducing food miles has to be offset against replacing the plastic on the tunnels every so often, but some foreign producers would surely like to grow soft fruits in a controlled environment too thus this is a neutral comparison.

  44. Polytunnels are all about scale and location. I live on the Gloucestershire/Hereford borders next to a 150 acre polytunneled soft fruit farm. It’s not a pretty sight, bad for wildlife and the environment, unsustainable in plastic (oil) use, needs a large irrigation water supply because rain doesn’t get to the crop, and can create flash flooding from run-off. There are also serious spraying consequences of growing covered monocultures. Commercial polytunnels are permanent structures. The plastic covers stay on from February to November. They will need planning permission and local residents have been successful in some instances in controlling their spread.
    Don’t go down the polytunnel route. Strawberries are lovely in season. Grow good outdoor varieties for flavour and I reckon you and your customers will benefit in the long run.

  45. Catherine Held

    firstly, we need to give our bodies the best fuel so they can work properly and strawberries are the second most nutritious fruit so we need to eat them. It is, of course, easier to eat food that tastes nice….
    Secondly, it is better to eat food that is grown as near as possible to where we live
    Thirdly, as i understand it, Guy is only suggesting using polytunnels if it does not reduce the flavour of the fruit
    Fourthly, i would rather see land being used to grow food in both senses of the word

    i have seen green polyhouses in my local garden centre so maybe this is the way forward as it would be an imorovement on the clear plastic that we see atm

  46. Charles Crundwell

    I work in Fisheries for the Environment Agency and I am pleased that Chris above has mentioned some of the negatives associated with polytunnels. That is the need for huge amounts of water for irregation, generally removed directly from rivers or the aquafer and the huge impacts of run-off from rain events off the acreas of plastic. This water is immediately lost to the environment, often taking large amounts of sediment with it from field and track erosion into the river. This sediment then causes siltation of the area where fish spawn and change their food supply, while loading the river with harmful nutrients. Sedimentation has had a huge impact on salmon and trout survival in our rivers. So if you do decided to go down the polytunnel route and I support reducing wastage, please take good advice on how to minimise these risks to the environment. Measures can include correct positioning of the tunnels, rainwater harvesting, winter storage, buffer strips etc. Organic farming is only as good as the good farming practices employed.

  47. Pingback: Strawberries and poly tunnels « The Riverford Blog

  48. We know the problem exactly!
    We need more polytunnels to expand our business. Our existing tunnel is completely hidden from view but getting new tunnels to expand is a nightmare and we just run into the planners typical comment of “polytunnels are an eyesore”.
    That may be the case but ours are completely hidden AND polytunnels allow crops to be grown which would otherwise have to be imported.
    We have had to resort to cloches this year which will restrict the growth of our chillies but at least we don’t need the dreaded planning permission.
    Good luck with your venture.

  49. If you wanted some acreage for growing strawberries under plastic here in the Tamar Valley I’m sure we could organise something.

  50. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will certainly comeback.

  51. “strawberries and plastic: are tunnels worth the eyesore?
    | The Riverford Blog” was in fact a splendid post, can not wait to read through far more
    of your blog posts. Time to waste a lot of time on-line haha.

    Thank you -Maximilian

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