Screenshot 2022 12 08 at 10 50 50 The Importance of Locally Sourced Vegetables Gilfresh Produce Ingredients Sourced

Gilfresh Produce: A 3rd Generation Family Business

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Updated on January 12, 2024

Reviewed by cwadmin

In this video, forming part of our ingredients sourced series, we take a look at the work of Gilfresh Produce. A farm providing fresh vegetables to retailers in Northern Ireland and Ireland. Fresh ingredients are important to great food and Gilfresh Produce works to produce the freshest produce they can.

Who are Gilfresh Produce?

Gilfresh Produce is a family business of farmers that grow, pack, and sell locally grown produce in retailers across the country. The business is currently run by William Gilpin who is the third generation of the Gilpin family to run it. He works alongside his father, Thomas Gilpin and his cousin Richard Gilpin to ensure that their produce is its best from securing the best land for farming, to growing crops to the right size, and to having those products processed and sold.

Gilfresh Produce Owner
Gilfresh Produce – Owner

Their farming business started with manual farming with tools and manpower. In more recent years the family has invested in new technology and techniques which make the production and processing of their crops easier and more efficient. They have even expanded their range of produce to include processed vegetables which are chopped, sliced, or mixed together to make them easier for producers to use.

What Vegetables Do Gilfresh Produce, Grow, and Sell?

Gilfresh Produce grows lots of traditional Northern Irish vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, and cauliflower. In their interview giving a look into their process they highlighted two important produce items they grow that are grown and processed in specific ways, scallions and celery.  

Scallions

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Scallion Fields

Scallions are used in many great dishes such as champ or soups and stir fry. The scallions grown by Gilfresh are planted on specially prepared beds which are the perfect size to grow three rows of scallions per bed. This method of growing scallions ensures that they grow to the right size for their customer’s needs.

Once grown scallions are picked by hand, their roots cleaned by shaking and then placed into bunches with two rubber bands to keep them together. This is how they will eventually be sold in stores. Before they can be sold they are sent to the packing plant which is also owned by Gilfresh. There they go through being cut to size, their roots trimmed, and two washes to ensure they are ready for customers. Once quality assurance is complete they are packed in crates and ready to be sent to retailers the same day or the next morning for the best freshness.

Celery

The way Gilfresh handles the growing and processing of their celery is affected by the fact that celery is an allergen. They have several measures in place to ensure there is no cross-contamination between their celery and other crops.

Celery from Gilfresh is grown in a field separate to other crops, the crops themselves are harvested by workers who will not be in contact with other crops. Once the celery crops are harvested by separate equipment they are packed in a different space to other crops as well. Gilfresh knows the importance of keeping allergens away from other crops and ensuring their separation through each step of the growing, harvesting, and packaging process.

How Are Gilfresh Helping Improve Their Sustainability?

One of the core values of Gilfresh Produce is sustainable practice as they want to work in harmony with the environment when growing and packaging their produce. A few years ago they added a new feature to their farm to ensure they were making the most out of their food waste.

Gilfresh did this by installing an anaerobic digester on site, this amazing machine processes waste matter into biofuel. The entire Gilfresh Produce farm is run from the electricity created through this anaerobic digester meaning no food is wasted and they have reduced carbon emissions. The food which powers the anaerobic digester includes trimmed roots, stems, or even waste leaves.

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Anaerobic Digester

How Do Gilfresh Package Their Produce?

When Gilfresh first started with whole produce such as whole carrots, bagged cabbages, and celery stems, these items are still a part of their range. In recent years, however, they have continued to grow their range offering processed vegetables. Their range includes baton carrots, chopped cabbage, and even pre mixed vegetables such as soup mix.

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Pre-processed vegetables

Gilfresh have also started to produce their own vegetable and seasoning meal kits for dishes such as fajitas and spice bags. These packets of vegetables come with spice blends included meaning all you have to add is your choice of protein to create delicious meals. They created this range to make it easier for customers to enjoy the great produce they grow and to get some of their five a day.

Their head of sales, Caroline Dalzell, showed us how simple it is to make an amazing chicken fajita using the Gilfresh Produce meal kit. These pre-prepared vegetables are an efficient solution for busy families as none of their vegetable packs take more than fifteen to twenty minutes to cook and are a great part of a balanced diet.

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Fajita Mix

Conclusion

For three generations Gilfresh farms have been growing amazing local produce for retailers across Ireland and Northern Ireland. They continue to produce to the highest quality standards and improve their business model to ensure they are keeping with the times. Gilfresh uses their food waste to make electricity ensuring they are maintaining sustainable practices and considering the environment so they can work in harmony with it.

Gilfresh produce a wide range of vegetables and make them easy to cook with by developing their range of products. Their meal kits and pre-cut vegetables are a great solution for busy families who need to be able to access healthy foods in their hectic schedule. No doubt they will continue to grow into the future and produce great vegetables for consumers to enjoy across the country for generations to come.

Want to learn about more amazing Northern Irish and Irish produce? Check out our articles on Carlingford Oysters or Hope Brewing Company.

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