In the early 20th century a group of local growers in the Clyde Valley raised a small amount of capital and formed the Clydeside Fruit and Tomato Growers Trading Society. The cooperative movement was strong at the time. There existed a powerful sense of community amongst local growers and their families. But the main objective was to form a body with a far-sighted economic plan. By functioning as a cooperative members of the Society were able to source materials at greater discounted prices as well as pool their knowledge to source better quality materials.
That was in 1920, and by 1925 virtually every major tomato grower in Scotland joined the Society as well as a great number of the burgeoning number of fruit growers in the area. The West of Scotland College was involved in the Society's commercial development, notably Dudley Howells and Louise Milne amongst others. As the popularity and awareness of the Society grew a full-time secretary and a traveling salesperson were taken on as well as the purchase of a van. Storage facilities at both Dalserf and Braidwood stations were acquired, with an honorarium annual payment to the stations masters of £5 or £10! By the 1950's there were over 100 members who, at the Annual General Meetings, would receive visits from agents representing major manufacturers. College advisers would also attend and offer talks on the latest research. MPs would also be in attendance. In 1964 the Society purchased the Old Schoolhouse in Crossford.
By the mid-1970s the turnover of the Society was about £70,000, but it was showing its age. The Society had to consider modernisation. The Society was undergoing expansion and became computerised in 1983 with the advent of new accountants and appointment of a new manager, William McSporran. At this time the Society began to increase its trade dramatically, becoming the main Scottish distributor for the major horticultural supply companies and is today the pre-eminent wholesaler to horticulture in Scotland. Continued expansion necessitated relocation of the Society to the present base at Kirkmuirhill. Following the retirement of William McSporran in 2015 Lorraine Adams was appointed as the Managing Secretary.
In 2020 on their 100 year centenary, The Society decided to move sales online and invest in a new ecommerce platform integrated with their existing stock system. The intention of this being to provide their existing customer base, both trade and public, a means to place orders directly, making the order process smoother and more convenient to them. In addition, The Society aims to extend their reach to the whole UK mainland with that same ethos of 100 years ago, 'sourcing the best quality materials at discounted prices for existing members and new customers alike'.
Thoughts for the future
The Society aim to provide all its customers, horticultural, commercial and domestic gardeners, with premium quality products at the most reasonable prices.