A step closer to bringing back Bute tatties

Jock Somerville gives a vintage tractor demonstration as part of Fyne Futures' Heritage Horticulture project at Bute Produce on Monday, February 23, 2015.
Jock Somerville gives a vintage tractor demonstration as part of Fyne Futures' Heritage Horticulture project at Bute Produce on Monday, February 23, 2015.

A ‘heritage horticulture’ project in Rothesay moved a step closer to bringing rare Bute potato varieties back to the island this week.

The Fyne Futures project, taking place at Bute Produce’s market garden at Ashfield with the help of National Lottery funding, aims to reintroduce long-forgotten horticultural techniques as part of efforts to make the island more environmentally sustainable.

Part of the project involves the cultivation of three potato varieties - Marquess of Bute, Pride of Bute and Beauty of Bute - which were introduced on the island in the early 20th century but later fell into near-extinction.

Five varieties of each, provided by the Scottish Agricultural Advisory Board, were planted at the garden last May - and produced more than two hundred potatoes for cultivation purposes.

Those potatoes were buried back in the ground on Tuesday, following a demonstration of traditional ploughing by local vintage tractor owner Jock Somerville the previous day - and the intention, eventually, is that all three varieties will be made available for sale.

“This isn’t just about potatoes,” Fyne Futures’ general manager Reeni kennedy-Boyle said. “It’s about traditional horticultural skills which need to be kept alive.”

The project continues next week, with a demonstration of how to make potato bread at Rothesay Joint Campus on Thursday, March 5 and a cookery demonstration with chef Alison Sykora at Bute Produce from 11am-3pm on Friday, March 6.