Last May, I was lucky enough to be given some old Shetland tatties and a handful of grains of bere by Mary and Tommy Isbister from Burland Croft in Tondra. Mary and Tommy have done a sterling job of saving Shetland varieties of plants or animals and a lot of the Shetland heritage would have been lost if it wasn’t for their hard work. These tatties are almost extinct and quite diseased but I was thrilled to have a chance to grow them. None of them are big yielders but they make up in flavour and nutrition. Ness Kidney and Blue Hearts are amongst the best tasting tatties I have ever sampled! Foula comes very close. The Collosies were given to Mary and Tommy from somebody who got Shetland Blacks from them and bred them with Kidney Fir Apple. The result is an attractive looking tattie, but I have to say I found the taste to be disappointing.
The bere was coming on nicely until some more wind flattened it against the netting protecting it, making it an easy prey for sparrows and starlings… The remaining grains are about ripe and will be harvested this week.