early apples + a fond farewell

There has been a lot mentioned about the weather in the newsletters over the past month so I am only going to mention it briefly, and in a positive way! The UK apple season normally starts around 20th August, however the very dry and warm temperatures through March, April and May has caused the trees to blossom earlier and start forming fruit.  This means that Paul Ward, our apple grower in Kent, is likely to have the first of his Discovery apples two weeks earlier than normal. So while the dry spring has caused problems for some crops, there are bonuses elsewhere. Nature always seems to balance herself out in the end.

Meanwhile, I’ve been talking to David Peagram who grows tomatoes for us, and he’s been particularly happy with the establishment of his crop this year. He started them from seed in his glasshouse in February, and the last two years have not been so successful, with some of the crop failing and needing to be re-planted, so it’s been a better year for him. Growing tomatoes from seed is not the norm as most producers will buy in seedlings from specialist nurseries where they will have been grafted onto a hybrid root stock to give the plant plenty of vigour along with the best disease resistance. I feel that David’s traditional growing methods, along with the quality of compost he uses, is why his tomatoes always taste very good in comparison to those of other growers. He also has a sandy loam soil which sits over gravel, so any excess water drains away very easily, not to mention the coast being only half a mile away, ensuring that he has mild air and very few frosts.

On 2nd July 2007 Riverford opened its fourth regional farm here at Upper Norton Farm in Hampshire. Since then we have packed a fair few boxes, met some wonderfully supportive customers and had some great farm events. I worked with the Riverford team in designing and building the box barn and creating our fruit and veg grower group, and after four years I am moving on to take up a new position with Riverford, running the box barn in Devon. The team that I have built up here will all remain and continue to do a great job packing the boxes for you, but from me it is a farewell.

James MacGregor, General Manager