Tiptree, a village in the heart of Essex, England, is home to the Wilkin family. For nearly 300 years, the Wilkin family has farmed in Tiptree and grows many of its own fruits on its farmland straddling almost 1,000 acres.
The very first Tiptree conserves were made here in 1885 and to this day the farms cover 850 acres. That’s enough land for around 300 cricket pitches, or 450 baseball grounds. As more imported fruits become available and fruit seasons are extended, English farmers are moving away from fruit to more lucrative crops. Wilkin and Sons take a contrary view, growing more fruit at Tiptree now than ever before. It costs more, but the control it gives us over quality is worth the premium.
Why do we persist in growing much of our own fruit, when there are usually cheaper imported varieties available? We think that the British climate (generally speaking of course!) means slower ripening fruit which imparts a better flavour. We also reckon that we prefer to do things ourselves anyway, it means we can grow the varieties we want, look after them as we choose and pick them when we think they’re at the peak of their perfection.
Strawberries are just one example of Tiptree thinking: modern varieties may have more consistent shape, size and colour, but Tiptree strawberries are grown for their flavour and texture. Tiny, intensely flavoured Little Scarlets are grown entirely on the ‘Tiptree’ farms and always used fresh within hours of picking. Wilkin and Sons may well be the only large-scale growers of this wonderful strawberry anywhere in the world.
Fruits grown at Tiptree include strawberries, raspberries, cherries, loganberries, damsons, greengages, Victoria plums, medlars, mulberries, quinces and rhubarb. Rhubarb? Agreed, it’s not strictly fruit, but it gets used as one and we’re rather proud of our home-grown Timperley Early. The ‘fruit’ is used to make Rhubarb with Ginger Conserve and Rhubarb with Vanilla Conserve. The Mulberry orchard was planted before jam-making began at Tiptree and a young tree can take up to twenty-five years to bear fruit. Now that does require long-term thinking and commitment!
5,000 tons of Tiptree jams are produced every year and one-third are exported to a host of countries and major overseas markets worldwide – primarily Germany, USA, Japan, and France. Most five-star hotels in Britain, as well as top airlines such as Virgin Atlantic (Upper Class only) and the best known cruise ships, serve Tiptree.
We operate three tea rooms in Essex, which serve our famous conserves and marmalades.
We also pay close attention to environmental issues and carefully tend our farms and orchards to ensure ecological balance. We have even converted to using organic growing methods for some crops.
The company is committed to an integrated environmental and management plan which balances the needs of the environment with operational obligations while ensuring continual improvement in environmental performance, prevention of pollution and compliance with environmental legislation.
The Wilkins have farmed in Tiptree for almost 300 years. Continuously held a Royal Warrant of Appointment for both its preserves and marmalades since 1911. The only known commercial grower of Little Scarlet Strawberries .