Bute has made a significant contribution to horticultural development since the 18th century. The Bute endemic varieties not only include ornamental plants but also important vegetable crops, including Bute Potatoes varieties Bute Blues, the Marquess of Bute and the Beauty of Bute.
Historically, potato growing has been an important part of the economy of the island and a significant part of our cultural heritage as a holiday destination. There is little understanding of other potential varieties, but it is known that local farmers vied with each to send the earliest crop to Glasgow, using local resources to promote healthy crops such as seaweed. Some oral history indicates that farmers developed their own varieties such as Drumreoch Blues. Bute potatoes formed part of the ‘doon the water’ holiday tradition- harvesting of the potatoes provided a source of seasonal income for lower paid locals and visitors who came on ‘tattie howking’ holidays. This developed into mass tourism after the war.
In 2014 a team from Bute Produce worked to establish Bute Potato Library- documenting, storing, preserving and growing varieties with strong connections to Bute. Unfortunately the seed potatoes failed after a four year period, however Bute Produce maintain a commitment to ‘Seed Sovereignty’, maintaining an organic seed library for a wide range of crops and offering Seed Saving workshops.
As told by Reeni Kennedy-Boyle of Bute Produce and the Bute Potato Library
More information on visiting the area can be found here.