Onion growers peel away a layer for TV cameras

THREE onion growers bagged some air-time earlier this month on BBC’s The One Show to explain how the crop is grown, dried and packed for consumers.

Woodbridge onion growers AJ Paul and John Patrick, both members of The Three Musketeers growers’ organisation, and Colchester-based onion packer Bill Rix faced the cameras on behalf of British Onions, an industry organisation which promotes the often over-looked vegetable.

Although they had been promoting the vegetable through specialist food magazines, the invitation to the programme was a real coup, said John.

“The One Show was beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.

John showed them The Three Musketeers’ drying facilities at Bentwaters, revealing how a former Cold War facility was now being put to quite a different use.

Meanwhile, AJ took them out into the field to see the crop as it grew.

Bill, who packs for a major supermarket as well as being an onion grower himself, took them through the packing process.

Most Read

AJ had been a “natural” on camera, said John. “We call him D’Artagnan, the good-looking young one,” he joked.

The programme had helped raise awareness of the crop, which has enjoyed a good quality harvest this year, he added. The Three Musketeers supply 6% to 7% of the UK supermarket onion sales, and the onions are an important vegetable crop for the region.

“The whole idea was to raise the profile of onions. It’s such a staple part of people’s meals today but it just gets taken for granted,” said John.