Our Story - Quality Seed Potatoes. Our Certificates - Your Guarantee of top quality
It is over twenty years now since Andrew Skea started Skea Organics and registered as an organic seed potato grower and supplier. Skea Organics is now a highly recognised name in the potato industry, supplying to many larger organisations and seed sellers. Skea Organics is the lead supplier of organic seed potatoes to farmers and market gardeners throughout UK. This also included and Europe and further afield. However, due to Brexit we are unable to supply to EU and NI.
Potato House is the baby potato of Skea Organics, and grew out of a need to service smaller orders for gardeners, allotment growers, market gardeners and independent gardening and hardware stores. We also supply ware (eating or table) potatoes to shops, box schemes and restaurants. The Potato House website is dedicated to the gardeners and small passionate growers who are looking for high-quality seed potatoes with unique taste and specific characteristics. Around a third of our varieties are organic, although by volume, our organic range is about 80% of our harvest. Our website clearly shows what is organic and what is not, as does our labelling and invoicing.
In 2010 we decided to extend our variety list of heritage and speciality seed potato varieties which have long histories and exclusive characteristics. We have developed a specialist niche in growing and supplying a wide selection of top quality heritage and speciality seed potatoes.
It takes a lot of planning and paperwork to grow so many varieties from keeping them separate at planting, drawing field maps and harvesting through to storage and packaging. We think the end result is worth it though.
Andrew's brother John, who farms at the farm the family have been at since 1970 at Auchterhouse, grows most of our produce but we also have a few other farmers who grow for us. In addition to seed potatoes, the family farm produces organic cattle, sheep, cereals and vegetables. The vast majority of seed potatoes sold by Potato House is our own production. We are able to offer good value because we grow, pack and dispatch directly from the farm.
(Great) Grandad Skea harvesting seed potatoes in Glenisla in Perthshire in the
1960s. Most of Glenisla is in Angus, but this farm where the Skea family
lived was just inside Perthshire. 60 years later, the location is 20 miles away but the love of potatoes remains. I wonder what old
Grandad Skea would think about tweets and Facebook.
I'm sure he would be proud of the fact we send out Quality Seed Potatoes to you direct from our family farm.
We are proud to be at the forefront of our industry providing high-quality disease-free seed potatoes. Our Organic Certification, Safe Haven, SOPA and BPTA certificates provide reassurances to our consumers and our large scale customers alike. Our crops are inspected several times during the season for diseases and the top quality seed potatoes we supply to our customers is a result of years of dedication.
We adhere to the guidelines set out by the BPTA with respect to selling Seed Potatoes.
Certificate to follow
Certificate to follow
What is the scheme?
- The Safe Haven Certification Scheme presently covers 60% of all seed production in Great Britain. It was set up by the British seed industry in 2004 to provide additional protection for the British potato industry and its customers from bacterial ring rot. The scheme comprises scientifically robust protocols that ensure best practice for seed growing and handling and require businesses who are members of the scheme to be audited annually to ensure compliance. The Safe Haven Certification Scheme is supported by Red Tractor and Assured Food Standards.
- The Safe Haven scheme can also help protect against any pest or disease that can be imported or introduced by seed. This includes other bacterial diseases like brown rot or Dickeya spp. and soil borne pests like root knot nematode.
Why is it important?
- The Safe Haven Certification Scheme is designed to reduce the risk of outbreaks of ring rot and other bacterial diseases of potatoes through a series of standards covering all the potential infection points. The ‘ring fence’ that the scheme provides ensures that all seed within the scheme is only grown from Safe Haven-sourced seed or disease-free nuclear stock and this helps protect against any pests and diseases not found in Britain which affect potatoes.
- All of our seed potatoes are certified “Safe Haven”. All our customers can therefore be assured of first class quality seed potatoes for their gardens and allotments. However this does NOT mean that your potatoes will be free from all diseases – blight being the most obvious.
Scottish Food Guide – the ethical and independent award-winning guide to the best places to eat and our finest produce. Quality Assurance – Professionally inspected and personally recommended.
The maritime summer climate is cooler than many other potato growing regions allowing crops to thrive at a significantly lower risk of viral disease. These diseases are spread by aphids. Aphids are the small insects which transport the spores of viral diseases throughout potato crops, allowing infection to spread easily. The naturally cooler climate of Scotland, not only in summer months but also during the winter months of January and February, reduces and postpones the development of aphids.
Skea Organics is a partner in GPS potato breeding consortium aiming to breed better potato varieties - including with improved resistance to Potato Cyst Nemato. We also have our own Potato Breeding programmes looking for improved varieties for the Organic Sector - where blight resistance and PCN resistance are top priorities.
We are always after new varieties. Within our breeding programme we try to find new varieties not only for the commercial market but also interesting for small gardeners and allotment growers. Our main aim is focused to blight resistant and tasteful varieties. Andrew's grandfather was involved in seed potatoes from around the 1950s and so potatoes are in the blood! We are breeding new varieties and our hope is to get a great blight-resistant variety which is good looking and tasty! So far our only registered variety is Mary’s Rose, but we have a wave of new red and blue fleshed varieties in the pipeline as well as more disease resistant white and cream fleshed varieties.
Breeding is a fascinating but time-consuming activity. Most of our breeding is done in association with the James Hutton Institute in Dundee - they hand pollinate each plant so we know what has been x with what. We will start with 1000s of seedlings in trials whittling them down each growing season until we select one or two individuals to put through registration. In equal measures, we are looking for a tasty, good looking variety which has a high resistance to diseases and good yield coupled with the “type” that UK consumers enjoy! Eg. Our European cousins prefer more yellow flesh. It is equivalent of buying 20,000 lottery tickets hoping your number will come up in 10 years time. We have further articles in our news page.
Andrew SkeaFounder and Director
Andrew takes an active part in the UK potato industry, being past chairman of the Pre Basic Growers Association (PBGA) and a past president of the British Potato Trade Association(BPTA).
Andrew joined the board of Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) in April 2017 after many years contributing to AHDB's Seed and Export Committee.
Andrew takes overall control of what is to be planted as well as sales to our farmers.
During his spare time, Andrew is on the board of Alyth Development Trust as well as match secretary and Head Coach at the Dundee Junior Curling Club. He is also an active curler. Summers are spent cycling and walking.
Favourite Potato is Arran Victory as it makes such great roasties.
Amy came into the family business after the baby potatoes had gone to school and has taken on the promotion of the business and overseeing the smaller orders. Amy is the main contact for media and sponsorship as well as answering any queries gardeners may have.
"Before I married Andrew, I boiled a potato or shoved it in the Microwave. 15 years later I am still learning!"
Like Andrew, Amy enjoys curling and also helps at Dundee Junior Curling Club as well as the local bike club. Favourite Potato is Highland Burgundy Red as she is from the Highlands.
Tatiana TabackovaOffice Manager
Tatiana has been with us for many years and is your main contact for mid-sized orders, such as potato days, and also for ware potatoes. Her picture shows her at a local potato day. Tatiana is also the best person to properly stack a pallet.
"I love working with all the different heritage varieties. Favourite Potato is Pink Fir Apple as it just looks so weird. The taste is wonderful though!"
Pawel KozikowskiStore Manager and Quality control
Pawel has been with us for quite some time and is in charge of packing and quality control and is also a leading player in the breeding programme.
"It is interesting to work on the breeding programme as the results are so fascinating and unpredictable."
Pawel enjoys chess in his spare time as well as bee keeping. Favourite Potato has to be Salad Blue -
"I was amazed when I first saw it and couldn't believe it was blue all the way through!"
From the History of Potato House to our Current Potato News
The story continues with news articles and inspiring menus and of course our main team our Potatoes!