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‘Cliff would be so pleased’ - Tomatoes from giant Suffolk greenhouse on sale at local shops

PUBLISHED: 16:37 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:37 02 March 2020

Daniel Murton of Global Fruits  with Anna Matthews, whose late husband, Cliff, was a driving force behind the Great Blakenham tomatoes project.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Daniel Murton of Global Fruits with Anna Matthews, whose late husband, Cliff, was a driving force behind the Great Blakenham tomatoes project. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Tomatoes grown in a giant greenhouse complex near Ipswich are now available locally under a new brand name - meaning shoppers will no longer face a search to find them.

Suffolk Sweet Tomatoes, grown in Great Blakenham, are now available at Global Fruits in Ipswich  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Sweet Tomatoes, grown in Great Blakenham, are now available at Global Fruits in Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Shoppers have previously often found it hard to track down the tomatoes, grown in Great Blakenham, in supermarkets.

But the cherry tomatoes, which featured in a tasting session on BBC1's The One Show, are now being stocked at Global Fruits in the Buttermarket, and in community shops in nearby villages. They are being sold under the brand name Suffolk Sweet Tomatoes.

Anna Matthews, whose late husband Cliff was behind the hi-tech Suffolk tomato project in Great Blakenham, is delighted that they will be easier for shoppers to find.

"Cliff would have been so pleased to see the tomatoes available locally," said Anna, who helped to arrange for Global Fruits to stock the fruit.

Cliff and Anna Matthews during the SPILL performance festival in Ipswich in 2018   Picture: Lizzy MatthewsCliff and Anna Matthews during the SPILL performance festival in Ipswich in 2018 Picture: Lizzy Matthews

"It just feels so nice for them to be stocked at an independent shop. I think it's great that they are more accessible."

Anna founded the former La Tour Cycle Cafe together with Cliff. She now works at the Zeebra Chic boutique, which is close to Global Fruits, and Cliff's cycling buddy, Sean Fairbrass, is at the nearby Robert Gatward jewellers. Anna said that Cliff would have been very happy to see the tomatoes being sold within the local Ipswich community.

Cliff, who died almost a year ago, project-managed the Suffolk County Council/SITA UK energy-from-waste facility at Great Blakenham. He was then one of the driving forces that created the nearby Sterling Suffolk complex of energy-efficient greenhouses, which is producing a huge crop of tomatoes.

Richard Lewis, Sterling Suffolk's horticultural director, said: "When we built the project, we had to secure funding, and that meant that the early production had to be supplying major retailers. Once we reached a certain level, we decided it was time to sell to local stores."

Tomatoes grown at the giant greenhouses in Great Blakenham are now being stocked at Global Fruits in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTomatoes grown at the giant greenhouses in Great Blakenham are now being stocked at Global Fruits in Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Richard paid tribute to Cliff, saying: "He was a great believer in being local, and also thought we should give something back as a business."

He added the new brand Suffolk Sweet Tomatoes was also being stocked at community shops in Coddenham, Sproughton and Somersham, and at Alder Carr Farm in Creeting St Mary.

Further varieties will be added to the range in about five weeks, including larger tomatoes and yellow and brown varieties. As production expands, the tomatoes may also be sold in other areas under the Suffolk brand name.

Daniel Murton of Global Fruits said: "The tomatoes are local and will be available all the year round. It's nice for us as a local business."

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