info@stourgarden.com

Tel: +44 (0)1206 273101

We just love onions.
Full stop.

Oscar Onion

Oscar is very passionate
about onions. He'll make
you cry with laughter.

see what oscar is up to...

About Us.
Inside the onion.

Situated alongside the beautiful Stour Valley on the Essex Suffolk border, Stourgarden has been growing, storing and packing onions since 1995.

We use the natural resources of the River Stour feeding the Stour Valley region.

About Us.
Inside the onion.

At our site on Lodge Farm we have a purpose built, state of the art packhouse, with the most up to date technology and machinery in place.

We currently handle in excess of 500,000 pre-pack products, loose trays and netted bags every week.

About Us.
Inside the onion.

Stourgarden grade in excess of 50,000 tonnes of onions a year, all grown in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent.

The most modern graders being capable of size grading into various grades, allow us flexibility to meet the ever changing consumer need.

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.

Onions - Allium cepa – are known to have been cultivated and selectively bred for over 7,000 years making them one of the oldest known vegetables along with the potato.

They are scientifically classified as an Allium which they share with many other well-known vegetables and plants such as Leeks and Garlic.



Over 40 million tonnes of Onions are produced annually across the world - which means more Onions are grown in the world than any other vegetable. The UK produces around 450,000 tonnes a year.

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Allioideae
Genus: Allium
Species: A. cepa

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.

Onions have been used for many different reasons throughout history...

The Egyptians believed that the Onions with their spherical shape and layered rings symbolised eternal life and used to worship them accordingly - they would often be used in burials to bring the dead back to life.

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.

Onions have been used for many different reasons throughout history...

The Roman Gladiators used to rub Onion all over their bodies as they thought they firmed the muscles up - while throughout the middle ages Onions were used as currency.

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.

Onions have been used for many different reasons throughout history...

Some people believe that Onions are an aphrodisiac - indeed some sects in India do not eat Onions for that reason.

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.


We all know that Onions make you cry when you chop them - but why?

Well, Onions contain amino acid sulfoxide molecules and enzymes called allinases these are both held separately within the onion cells. When you cut an onion you break the cells and allow the enzymes to mix which in turn changes the molecules into Sulphenic acid.

This Sulphenic acid then spontaneously rearranges to form propanethiol S-oxide (!!) which is a volatile sulphur compound gas. When this gets in your eyes it reacts with the water to form a Sulphuric Acid which causes the burning sensation and triggers the tear gland to secrete tears.

About Onions.
There's more to Onions
than meets the eye.

It is commonly known that eating onions brings with it many health advantages. Onions contain a host of Phenolics and Flavonoids that have potential anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol, anticancer and antioxidant properties giving them an almost Super food status.

Flavonoids in particular help reduce the risk of Heart disease. Onions have one of the highest flavonoids contents of any vegetable similar to Broccoli and Apples.

Onions are typically nearly 90% water but still high in Vitamin B & C as well as Folic acid and dietary fibre but low in fat and sodium levels. Onion skins are high in Quercetin content which is a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory, and so can help reduce symptoms of hayfever.

Onion production.
From seed to plate.

Onions are drilled as a seed ideally in early March after the last winter frost. The width the rows are apart and the distance between each plant will affect how big the onions grow – the more space the plant has the bigger it will grow. Each onion seed produces one onion.


Onion production.
From seed to plate.

An onion can be planted as either a seed or a set. A set is small onion bulb grown the previous year which means that the set crop is further ahead when planted and so can be harvested earlier.

Once the set or seed is planted into the prepared onion bed it begins to sprout and put down roots. For the first 3 months of its growing cycle the onion puts most of its energy into growing leaf and roots. Then around late June the bulb starts to bulk up, this is triggered by day length. The rate of this growth is of course determined by the amount of water, nutrients and sunlight the plant has. To do our bit to help them along we irrigate the fields regularly during the summer when rainfall is (usually!) less, and make sure the soil has all the right levels of nutrients and minerals. Unfortunately however, we can't influence the sunshine!

The earlier set crops are hopefully ready to be harvested by early August and then the rest and majority of the crop will be harvested throughout September.

Onion production.
From seed to plate.

Once harvested, the onions need to be dried out for a few weeks to get the skins finished just right and for the bulb to firm up.

In hotter parts of the world this drying out can happen in the fields with natural sunlight and warmth, but in the UK it would probably rain while they were supposed to be drying and so we use large storage sheds with warm air fans to do the job.

Once the crop has been dried to the right level it can be maintained in-store at this level and kept there for nearly 10 months in a state of dormancy. After this time the onion bulb is naturally trying to break dormancy and begin its growth cycle again and so will start to sprout again from the top of the bulb. This usually happens around the end of June, and this marks the end of the UK season.

Onion production.
From seed to plate.

As we said earlier, the UK season doesn't start again until early to mid-August which leaves roughly a 4 week gap where the UK needs to import onions to maintain availability over July and August.

The size of the import window is therefore determined by two factors.

1. How long we can store the old crop for. This is a factor of the quality of the crop that has gone into store and how well it has been stored over the time.

2. How quickly we get the new crop to reach its point of harvest which is predominantly a factor of sunlight and temperature.

Onion production.
From seed to plate.

We then hand select, pack, store and deliver to all our major suppliers in the UK and abroad.

With great people, with all the right skills, we deliver excess of 500,000 pre-pack products throughout the UK.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Brothers, Bill and John started the business together in 1995 to be able to serve the biggest retail customer directly.

Prior to starting the business both were actively involved on the family farm. Today, Bill takes responsibility for the running of the packing and procurement side of the business while John looks after the growing.


Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Kev joined the business at its beginnings in 1995, moving down from Lincolnshire where he was in a similar role at another packhouse.

Kev knows the business inside out and has been part of its growth since the days of packing 5,000 ton a year up to its current 50,000. Kev looks after the daily production and all the staff, keeping a tight ship that runs smoothly.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Mick has also been with the business since its beginnings and like Kev knows it like the back of his hand.

Mick works closely with Bill and Kev to ensure the right onions are in the right place to be packed at the right time. Mick oversees all of the packhouse maintenance to ensure everything is working at its best.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

George joined the family business in January 2013 after a few years working elsewhere in the produce industry after leaving Reading University where he studied Agricultural Business Management.

George now looks after our main customer, matching up their requirements with our production.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Sam joined the family business in August 2011 after studying Agricultural Business Management also at Reading University.

As a qualified agronomist, Sam looks after the quality in the field and stores of our own crops and those of our grower base. As well as that Sam is always looking at and trialling new varieties and processes that are coming through.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Jim has a huge experience in the produce industry and joined Stourgarden in July 2014. Jim ensures we are exceeding all expectations of traceability and product assurance and gets us through to the highest level of Audit.

The pressures on this area of the business are always growing and so Jim has a lot to keep ahead of.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Vicki joined in June 2014 and works closely with Jim on all things technical.

In addition to helping Jim out, Vicki is also responsible for the fresh prepared side of the business ensuring all the standards are tip top.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Sadie has been here since the doors first opened in 1995 and looks after all of the product quality.

She has a team beneath her that check all onions coming into the packhouse and then everything that leaves to go to the customer.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Christine (aka 'Peanut') has been working with Stourgarden for over 11 years now, starting on the packing lines, Christine is Kev and Micks eyes on the ground and is brilliant at getting this done and keeping everyone in line.

Looking after packaging stocks, checking labels, sorting small staff issues and overtime all sit with Christine.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

From a farming background all his life, Neil joined the farm in 1994.

Neil looks after all of the big cultivation machinery ahead of planting onions, and then throughout the growing season looks after the spraying and fertilising of the crop to keep weeds and disease away and maintaining the right level of nutrients.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Also from a farming background all his life, Jimmy was a gap year student on the farm and returned after finishing his course at Writtle College to become Assistant farm manager from where he has progressed.

Jimmy looks after all of the irrigation of the onions and other crops on the farm and then come harvest time is busy running harvest crews around the farm.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Working closely with Gerald, Jan is the backbone of the Stourgarden office and keeps everyone in check.

From holidays to invoicing, Jan deals with a little bit of everything.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Jemma joined in August 2014 and is responsible for developing our Rosanna brand presence and making sure everyone knows about what we do and who we are.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

Tris joined the business in September to take on the running of our new Prep factory from the beginning.

Tris oversees the smooth running of the factory and operations and makes sure all regulations are adhered to and staff are well looked after.

Meet the team.
The heart & soul of Stourgarden.

There's a theme here...

Gerald has been with Stourgarden since day one and looks after all the numbers, making sure that what goes in and what comes out makes a plus.

Rosanna Onions.
They're not white. They're not red.

Prepared Factory.
The New Fresh Prepared Onion Factory

We figured that onions go into heaps of different foods as an ingredient; sandwiches, pizza, soups and sauces, curries, salads, loads of ready meals and of course - onion bhajis!

So, to make sure our great onions are available to everyone we've built a new factory to slice and dice onions ready to go into anything and everything...

As it's a complete high care food environment, the factory is very different from the farm. Everything gets hygienically cleaned every day, there's a lot of white wellies and hairnets floating around and everyone inside gets a pair of onion goggles to fight the tears!

Latest news.
Straight from the field.

Contact Us.
Let's talk onions.