Agriculture in Jersey:
The agricultural industry in Jersey has seen many changes over the centuries, which in turn have influenced the rural landscape of the Island and demonstrated the resourcefulness and adaptability of the Jersey farmer.
During the 17th century the wool and knitting industry dominated the rural economy. So much attention was paid to the production of woollen garments that legislation was introduced by the States to control the time devoted to knitting as the gathering of vraic (seaweed used for fertiliser) and harvesting were being neglected.
The 18th century saw the development of an apple growing and cider production industry. By the beginning of the 19th century some 13,500 vergées, or one quarter of the land area, were planted to apple trees with much of the cider production destined for export.
The cattle breeding and export industry expanded rapidly during the 19th century and lasted well into the 20th century.
At a similar time the growing and export of early potatoes replaced apples as the major crop and by the beginning of the 20th century some 20,000 vergées were devoted to early potato production.
At this time the Island also became renowned for the production of tomatoes and flowers.
Today, however, the dominant crop grown in the Island is the ‘Jersey Royal’ potato.
The story of the development of the ‘Jersey Royal’, a variety unique to the Island, is a fascinating one in which the RJA&HS played an important part in the early development of the variety.