Sunstreams onto East Yorkshire farm shop shelves for Christmas

As the shortest day approaches, tomatoes of the variety “Sunstream’ have been harvested at Selby’s Stockbridge Technology Centre (STC) and will be on sale exclusively in two East Yorkshire farm shops.
The juicy red midi plum fruit have come from a new research facility that is testing the potential of energy efficient LED lights to allow crops to be UK grown rather than have to travel for thousands of food miles.
The freshly picked fruit have the ‘fresh from the greenhouse’ aroma only really found with homegrown tomatoes, and will be distributed across Yorkshire by specialist supplier, Delifresh who will sell the Yorkshire tomatoes to catering establishments, including the Star at Sancton and the Pipe and Glass at South Dalton.
A delighted Graham Ward OBE, chief executive of STC, presented development manager Robert Ramsden with the first fruit this week just in time for Christmas.
Whilst Delifresh will commence wholesale distribution in January, the first few harvests will be hitting the shelves for consumers in the run up to Christmas through members of the East Yorkshire Local Food Network (EYLFN), including Vanessa’s Deli in Beverley (available now) and Langlands Garden Centre in Shiptonthorpe (from 23rd December).
Nigel Bartle, chair of the tomato Growers Association and board member of the EYLFN, plans to help the sales in the run up to Christmas “I’m looking forward to taking the tomato costume to Langlands and inviting people to taste this incredible tasting fruit. Sunstream is a lovely variety, with a deep red colour, but most importantly, that home grown flavour. So with your turkey and tinsel, don’t forget your Yorkshire tomatoes!”
Stockbridge Technology Centre leads the way in research into LED lighting and the new facility for tall crops such as tomatoes complements an existing facility looking at benches or layers of crops that could be a model for urban farms of the future.
The state of the art Greenhouse looks like a Christmas wonderland with its red and blue lights, however is not producing just for Christmas. The lights will shine throughout the spring, meaning fresh year round Yorkshire tomatoes will be available for the first time.
STC Science Director Martin McPherson added, “This is a great example of us carrying out world leading research and development, but giving everyone the chance to participate by delivering fresh, local food.
“Advanced LED technology has been used to extend the growing season for strawberries for several few years, but Yorkshire grown tomatoes for Christmas is a first.”
The development at STC has been made possible through support from the industry but especially Norfolk grower Cornerways Nursery, the British Tomato Growers Association (TGA) and Havecon bv. In addition to the installation itself, CambridgeHok and Philips will also be working closely with STC on the growing strategy for the crop to maximise production and fruit quality and their plant specialists will visit the trial regularly to provide support to the project.
Stockbridge Technology Centre is an independent, not for profit organisation that is wholly owned by the UK horticultural industry and is a centre of excellence in technology transfer to agriculture and horticulture.