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The English Apple Man

Journals

The Journal gives a weekly update on events in our English apple orchards, using pictures and video clips to follow seasonal activities and giving the consumer a level of detail not available from any other source.

 

All aspects of growing, harvesting, storage, grading, packing and marketing are included enabling consumers to understand the challenges English growers face in supplying our sophisticated market place.

 

 

12 April 2024 - Blossom is early this year

 

The weather has been wet and miserable for ages, but apparently warmer than average, either way, the Blossom is on the early side!

 

In my days growing apples in Kent, we expected full bloom around 7-9 May. Of course the varieties were predominately Cox Orange Pippin and Bramley culinary apples, plus pollinating varieties like Discovery, Worcester Pearmain et al.

 

Today the main dessert varieties are Gala and Braeburn with Jazz, Envy, Smitten. These varieties all naturally flower earlier than the older varieties of my youth. But the 'global warming' phenomenon has resulted in earlier seasons by around 2-3 weeks.

 

Cox and Bramley are currently in Pink Bud so I anticipate they will be in full bloom next week: circa mid April. (2-3 weeks earlier than in my days growing primarily Cox.

 

Below: left. Braeburn at pink bud last week and right. Braeburn in full bloom yesterday

 

 

To view one of the English Apple Man Journals with the most beautiful display of apple trees in full bloom: Click on: Full Bloom in 2011

 

See full article

 

05 April 2024 - Sparkling Grape Juice and April Showers

 

This week The English Apple Man visited Biddenden Vineyards in search of a new product; Biddenden Sparkling Grape Juice.

 

There I caught up with Julian Barnes head of the family business started more than 50 years ago by his father and mother

 

As a lover of Red Wine - "well all wine actually" - I had heard Tom Barnes (Julian's son) had more Gamay grapes at harvest than he needed for their Biddenden Gamay Wine, so decided to try something new.

 

Inspired to find an enjoyable drink for my evening tipple, while trying to reduce my alcohol intake, I set off for Gribble Ridge home of Biddenden Vineyard.

 

While tasting the Sparkling Grape Juice, I discussed with Julian the world of farming, the challenges facing fruit growers and farmers and the rapid rise in UK Viticulture (much of it in the South of England but not confined to the South with Vineyards established in Wales)

 

Originally home to a 40 acre apple orchard, Julian's parents Richard and Joyce started to consider diversifying the farm in the late 1960s as apple prices began to decline. After listening to a feature on the BBC's Woman's Hour programme about English vineyards being replanted, Joyce Barnes was inspired to turn to viticulture. In 1969, one third of an acre of vines was planted and Biddenden Vineyards was born.

 

Julian runs Biddenden Vineyards alongside his wife Sally and son Tom, Julian's other sons, Sam and Will, also work in the viticultural area of agriculture. Julian is also Chairman KCAS (Kent County Agricultural Show.

 

 

 

 

 

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29 March 2024 - It's my Birthday

 

Another year passes by and Today 29th March is my 82nd Birthday

 

Oh how time flies, when we are children it seems to drag so slowly. Now the weeks race by faster than the days used to. One wonders what awaits us, as friends pass on with increasing frequency!

 

Sorry for my gloomy mood. Thankfully my family are spoiling me today and I am looking forward to a nice meal and a few drinks this evening!!!

 

Regular readers will be familiar with my usual subjects, primarily apples, or matters important to apple growers!

 

This week, I am mixing nostalgia with events of today!

 

Reflecting on my life and highlighting the Tractor Rally in London this week. publicising the 'unfair challenges' faced by British Farmers & Growers.

 

See full article

 

22 March 2024 - British Apple & Pears Manifesto

 

British Apples & Pears Limited (BAPL), the organisation representing commercial top fruit growers, has published its first ever manifesto ahead of a 2024 general election.

 

Designed to provide all political parties with clear guidance on how best to secure the future of the British apple and pear industry, the manifesto sets out ten clear actions.

 

 

 

Below: BAPL Executive Chair Ali Capper on her family farm

 

"Any new British government has a great opportunity to turn around the current crisis facing UK apple and pear growers." Explained Ali Capper, executive chair of BAPL. "We have set out clear steps that we believe are both necessary and practical to achieve that.

 

"We understand that there will be many competing priorities for any new government, but the actions in our manifesto have extremely far-reaching and positive impacts. Implementing these actions will help ensure domestic food security, support the rural economy, our environment and the health of the nation. Those ambitions should be firmly on the agenda of any government."

 

The ten actions in the BAPL manifesto concern a range of issues from fair contracts with supermarkets to labour, environmental protection and innovation.

 

 

BAPL will be sending the manifesto directly to the leaders of all the main political parties as well as their key representatives for agriculture, farming, health, finance and labour.

 

"In addition to sending them our new manifesto, we will be offering face-to-face briefings with the political parties." Explained Ali Capper. "We are very keen to work with anyone who is open to our ideas for a stronger and sustainable British apple and pear industry."

 

 

 

See full article

 

15 March 2024 - Growing Kent and Medway an Update

 

As mentioned in last week's Journal The English Apple Man visited Dr Robert Saville at NIAB at East Malling on Wednesday 6th March for an update on the progress of Growing Kent & Medway. My last visit was on 23 October 2023

 

Kent and Medway is home to some of the most exciting and innovative food and drink businesses in the UK and internationally. From growers of fresh fruit and vegetables, to food processes and makers, through to engineers and robotics specialists automating our supply chain.

 

I spent an hour over a coffee in the Orchard Restaurant at EMR, listening to Robert passionately explaining the opportunities for introducing more sustainable production via Growing Kent & Medway Business Sustainability Challenge

 

Robert said this Sustainability Challenge is really about 'inspiring & creating' a business model achieving it's 'own circular economy' with the potential to bring new products from waste generated by the primary product 'closing the loop' with a fully sustainable 'no waste' product

 

 

 

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08 March 2024 - A funny old week

 

This week The English Apple Man has had a 'funny old week'

 

Both my wife and I struggle with 'mobility' and receive help from a wonderful lady who specialises in Reflexology and Holistic Massage.

 

Monday and my wife and I were benefitting from Reflexology and Massage and on Tuesday, we were off to an NHS Clinic where my wife and her Consultant updated her progress, onto M&S for a light lunch and 'a bit of shopping'

 

Wednesday: The EAM visited Dr Robert Saville at NIAB East Malling to discuss the next stage of Growing in Kent & Medway and the opportunities for the development of grant aided development of sustainable projects.

 

Thursday: At home researching and writing this week's EAM Journal.

 

Friday: Continuing writing and in the afternoon attending Kent Farmer Ken Jenner's Memorial Service.

 

See full article

 

01 March 2024 - Branded Apples? Join the Club!

 

In the Journal for 19th May 2023 The English Apple debated the future prosperity (?) of UK apple growers, and said; "Probably the only home grown apples able to earn a small profit at the moment are the Branded Club varieties. Like Jazz and Pink Lady".

 

Click on: English Apple Man Journal - 29/12/2023 - THE FUTURE

 

Poignantly - an article in The Fresh Produce Magazine by Fred Searle discusses the very subject of Branded varieties...

 

"For decades, own-label has dominated the fresh fruit and vegetable aisle at Britain's top supermarkets. But now high costs and tough market conditions are putting huge pressure on margins. So is own-label still the only game in town?

 

Shoppers like brands. They like food and drink brands too, but they almost never find them in the fresh produce section. We want to know if fresh fruit and vegetable brands can play a bigger role in future".

 

'The Power of Branding' is a new section of our website. Right here, over the next several months, we're looking at the new importance of brands for the fresh produce business in the UK.

 

A brand-new video series from FPJ in collaboration with Coregeo showcases the potential of branding for fresh produce marketers

 

Fresh Produce Journal

 

See full article

 

23 February 2024 - East Malling Trust acquires Brogdale Farm

 

The East Malling Trust would like to announce the acquisition of Brogdale Farm

 

The home of the world's largest collections of fruit trees has been purchased by The East Malling Trust, the charity that champions the advancement of science in horticulture and agriculture.

 

The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm is a living history and home to a rich variety of heritage fruit, curated by Reading University on behalf of DEFRA, with wardens from the Brogdale Collections charity managing access to it.

 

Its orchards contain more than 4,000 different varieties of apples, pears, cherries, plums, and other fruits and nuts, and the 150-acre farm has become a hub for fruit enthusiasts, researchers, and visitors from around the globe.

 

Bradbourne House is home to the Hatton Fruit Garden, formerly the walled kitchen garden, which takes its name from Sir Ronald Hatton, one of the most distinguished horticulturists of his generation, and which celebrates the art of tree forming and training fruit trees in different shapes.

 

History of Bradbourne House

 

Bradbourne House was previously the family home of the Twisden family since the early 18th century and was put up for sale when John Ramskill Twisden died without an heir. The house as it is seen today was built between 1712 and 1715 although there was a Tudor house on the site built in the late 1500s which has been considerably changed and altered over the years.

 

Bradbourne House remained in the ownership of one family, the Twisdens, for around 400 years before being purchased by what is now The East Malling Trust in 1938.

 

The House and park is closed to the public, but can be visited as part of a tour . For more information please contact The East Malling Trust eastmallingtrust.org.

 

Below: Bradbourne House today

 

 

The two organisations have a shared commitment to advancing research, conservation, and education in the field of fruit genetics. Dating back over 100 years, the East Malling campus has been at the forefront of pioneering advances in horticulture and has made substantial contributions to the fruit industry. The acquisition of Brogdale Farm further strengthens the Trust's commitment to fruit research and development.

 

 

 

See full article

 

16 February 2024 - Stories from Home and Abroad

 

This week's English Apple Man Journal covers a number of different issues. Some from other countries and some from home

 

But first some sad news as yet another of the fruit farming fraternity that have been part of my 65 years involved in fruit growing has passed onto God's great orchards in heaven

 

Below: Ken Jenner

 

Ken Jenner

 

Kenneth John Jenner was born on 22nd July 1936 and was the older brother of David and sister Betty. He took over farming Great Sheephurst Farm, Marden, with his brother David, following the sudden and unexpected death of his father in 1956.

 

At that time the farm was 40ha consisting of predominantly hops which were blighted with verticillium wilt. These were quickly 'grubbed' and replaced with apples and in 1960 the opportunity to buy the neighbouring farm extended the area to 100ha. Two further farm purchases were made in 1987 and 1997, expanding the area to its current 200ha (40ha apples and 160ha arable).

 

Ken officially 'retired' from farming in 2016 following a very successful 60 year partnership with his brother David. He is succeeded by his wife, Gay and two sons Nigel and William.

 

Kenneth John Jenner was born on 22nd July 1936 and was the older brother of David and sister Betty. He took over farming Great Sheephurst Farm, Marden, with his brother David, following the sudden and unexpected death of his father in 1956.

 

 

 

 

See full article

 

09 February 2024 - Is this the future? Learning from the past!

 

It seems that lately The English Apple Man has reported on so many challenges facing our fruit industry, mainly due to our Supermarkets intransigence to the desperate need for trade fairness and sustainable prices back to the growers

 

But is there another way? Is the future for 'many' of our growers better managed by looking back to the farming principles of the past?

 

This week The English Apple Man visited James Smith at Loddington Farm's new farm shop, the next step in James determination to step back from the uncertainty and pressure of supplying Supermarkets.

 

Below: The new Loddington Farm Shop opened on 18 January this year

 

 

Loddington Farm is run by James Smith. After graduating from Reading University with a degree in crop science, he pursued a career in fresh produce, until 18 years ago, when he joined his father on his great, great grandfather's apple farm in the beautiful Kent countryside. James great, great grandfather was the first to plant BRAMLEY apples in Kent during the 1880's

 

OUR PRINCIPLES

 

In 2016 James was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship which enabled him to travel and look at ways of growing fruit for the UK market that could be profitable. Disillusioned with fruit growing in the UK due to concerns over the huge financial risks and the impact of chemicals on people's health, James decided to put his extensive knowledge and experience to use.

 

He was encouraged to start a programme of self-education to see how we can produce better food - and began a journey in producing food using nature, instead of chemistry in farming systems. In 2020 in one orchard 'he spent more money on books than agrochemicals' in the quest to grow chemical free food.

 

Over the last ten years, The English Apple Man has featured Loddington Farm in a number of my weekly Journals, capturing the journey from high quality apple and pear production and the transition to regenerative farming.

 

Click on Loddington Farm - Regenerative Farming

 

Click on 5 principles of regenerative farming

 

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Searching for journals

 

This page initially shows the latest journals. You can use a journal's link to view the full story.

 

It is now much easier to find a particular journal of interest. Just type your search terms into the search box or select the month and/or year and click Submit.

 

 

 

Journal archive

 

I have completed the process of reworking my entire archive of journal pages into the style of the new website to make them more accessible to users of mobile phones etc.

 

Although the content now adapts to the size of the display, some of the archived journals still have photographs that won't fit and so get cropped. Archived journals are best viewed on a computer screen!

 

 

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