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Supermarkets sourcing vegetables from distant lands when we could easily grow them at home

Letter of the day: local produce

Recently, I accompanied my wife on the weekly shop to Tesco and Lidl. Each week during winter we buy several bunches of scallions because my Viennese wife, Sabine, uses them in a favourite Austrian dish - Zwiebelrostbraten (roast beef with onions).

We noticed the supermarket scallions were sourced from quite far away - Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, Egypt and Germany. Why can they not be grown in Northern Ireland? We manage to grow them at home in Strangford for most of the year, except during winter, in old flower pots, tubs and old sinks.

When we visited Austria this year, we saw them growing in Jenbach, Tirol, in poly-tunnels, 365 days a year, using heat generated from anaerobic digesters, which convert farm waste into bio-gas, which is then burnt in a gas turbine to generate electricity, which the farmers and growers sell to the power grid.

The surplus heat is used to maintain the temperature in the poly-tunnels to near-summer conditions, so the scallions and other salad crops grow all year round.

Why is horticulture in Northern Ireland not using surplus heat generated from anaerobic digestion technology?

It does not need to be vastly subsidised (like the failed RHI scheme); it just needs someone to keep the digester filled with slurry and farm waste. The bacteria in the digester does the rest.


Strangford, Co Down

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