Castle Fruit Farm Harvest 2017 – Part 2

Putting away the plum conveyor belt for another year

Harvest is half way through ! The plums have all been picked and packed and sold, the conveyor was put into storage and a cheer went up from Mr B and Damian our packhouse manager. It has been a good year but as you may have noticed Autumn came early. The chill was in the morning air by August 8th and this hastened all fruit into ripeness. Clive and the teams worked long hard hours to get the plums in and now the apples are following fast and earlier than usual. The packhouse worked hard to pack and despatch 147 tons of plums. Continue reading “Castle Fruit Farm Harvest 2017 – Part 2”

Harvest is starting at Castle Fruit Farm. The Team arrives !

Castle Fruit Farm: Mira, Krassi and Eva

The year is flying by! I am going to introduce you to our team. The weather, the pollinators, the condition of the trees are all important but above all it is our team that brings the orchards literally to fruition with great quality fruits which keeps us an economic thriving fruit farm. Continue reading “Harvest is starting at Castle Fruit Farm. The Team arrives !”

Conservation Agriculture at Castle Fruit Farm

Michael Bentley - photo by Chrissy Bentley
Michael Bentley – photo by Chrissy Bentley

Michael Bentley has long been involved in Farmers Overseas Action Group which is a charity for agricultural development and other projects in Uganda. This interest was sparked by 2 years in India as a young graduate volunteer with the Quakers. Trained as a soil and water engineer his particular passion is sustainable farming practices in the tropics which increase yields by paying careful attention to water management and soil structure, one of the fundamentals of what is now known as Conservation Agriculture or Climate Smart Agriculture. Continue reading “Conservation Agriculture at Castle Fruit Farm”

Who is going to harvest our fruit this year?

Fruit picker at Castle Fruit Farm
Fruit picker at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss

Buds are breaking on the Valor plum trees and hurrah, the blackthorn is in full blossom so the pollinators can get to work. These are our free workers so we try to make sure pollen is available early on by planting goat willow and keeping some of the hedges uncut for their early blossom. More on the importance of biodiversity later as what is more pressing is organising our 2017 harvest workers. Like all farmers we rely on seasonal labour to harvest our crops. In our case this means a group of Bulgarians who come every year for 3-5 months. Continue reading “Who is going to harvest our fruit this year?”

Winter Work at Castle Fruit Farm

“Winter work? Surely there is nothing to do now it’s winter” How that makes our farm manager Clive laugh !

Pruning at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss
Pruning at Castle Fruit Farm by Pat Strauss

One of the foremost things on our minds is tree planting. Orchards are being continually renewed, driven by age, unprofitability and the never ending desire of consumers for the new. It is a necessary and huge commitment in every way not just financial. Other tasks at this time of the year include pruning, machinery maintenance, coppicing, logging, ditching, hedge cutting and planning labour for next season. On wet days catching up on research findings and never ending paperwork deserves a blog on its own ! Continue reading “Winter Work at Castle Fruit Farm”

Bird Life at Castle Fruit Farm

Goldcrest at Castle Fruit Farm
Goldcrest at Castle Fruit Farm

We are very keen to increase the biodiversity here at Castle Fruit Farm for all sorts of reasons.

Firstly, orchards are a wonderful habitat and have a unique part to play in maintaining the richness of our natural world which is being challenged in so many ways – by farming practices, by the insatiable demand for houses and over enthusiastic tidiness ! Continue reading “Bird Life at Castle Fruit Farm”