This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
I must point out, however, that the Blairgowrie tonnage is greatly increased by the fruit grown at Essendy. In 1902 the estate of Drumellie and Essendy, extending to 450 ac, situated 3 ml. west from Blairgowrie, came into the market. The Blair Estates Company, Ltd., was floated, and the estate purchased. A neighbouring proprietor bought 200 ac. of the 450 with the object of securing the rights to Marlee Loch, which bounded the property. The rest of the land, though back-lying, was for the most part good agricultural land, and suitable for the production of fruit. Forty acres were retained by the company. The remainder was divided into small holdings ranging from 5 to 25 ac. The holdings were offered privately for sale at £50 per acre. The price was payable by ten equal yearly instalments, 4 per cent being charged on the unpaid capital. This meant that the purchaser paid, roughly, about £6 per acre per year for ten years. At the end of that time the land belonged to the purchaser absolutely. These were considered at the time good terms in a district where a considerable acreage of fruit land was rented as high as £12 per acre. Before the expiry of a year all the available land was disposed of, although it was some years before it was all under Raspberries.
The scheme was interesting from an agricultural point of view. It was perhaps even more so from a distinctly social point of view. Hitherto the tramp class had been requisitioned in large numbers for securing the fruit harvest. In many respects they were undesirable, and there was strong feeling in the district against them. The Essendy fruit growers decided to pick their fruit by workers to whom no objection could be taken. They erected substantial accommodation, on a co-operative basis, with the financial assistance of the Blair Estates Company Each grower agreed to pay a share of the expenses in proportion to the number of pickers he employed. The accommodation consists of twenty-four houses capable of accommodating about 1000 pickers, and three large dining-halls seated for nearly 1000 people. A restaurant, a grocer's shop, and a post office are kept on the premises. The pickers come from all parts of Scotland. They are engaged by a man appointed for the purpose. Every picker must produce a certificate of character. The season 1910 was a short one, and the pickers were only at work for about six weeks. Notwithstanding this, the catering department, which has a staff of about thirty servants, including a manager and experienced waitresses from Glasgow, sold food to the value of £975. Fortunes are not made, but in addition to the advantage of a month in the country, with decent lodgings and good food, many of the women make money. During their short stay in 1910 they sent through the Post Office between £300 and £400 to their relatives in different parts of the country.
The Essendy growers have also a Fruitgrowers' Association of their own. They have a representative in Blairgowrie, who takes general charge of the sale and dispatch of their fruit. They have a representative in Glasgow, who deals with the traffic going to the West of Scotland, as well as assists in the disposal of the fruit generally throughout the United Kingdom. They have another representative in London, who confines his energies to the sale and delivery of the London consignments. Since the small holdings were created, 2872 tons of raspberries have been sent from Essendy. Notwithstanding the unremunerative prices that have been ruling in the fruit market for the past few years, which have hit the growers at Essendy as well as the growers in every other part of the country, £48,550 has been received for the fruit dispatched. It is needless to say that nothing approximating such a sum could have been obtained from such an acreage in Scotland devoted to ordinary agricultural crops.