Martin and Rachel Soble had a dream. It was to have an organic orchard at their home at Whitethorn Farm-so they planted one! That was fifteen years ago, and, having waited patiently for nine years while the trees came to maturity, they now grow and sell a range of organic apples, pears, plums and cherries as well as soft fruit and apple juice.
These, along with the freshly pressed organic apple juice, are supplied to a range of shops, supermarkets and wholesalers such as Organic North.
Because the orchard has been organic since its inception, Martin says the management is more straightforward. Winter sees the trees being pruned to allow light and air into the space, and any new trees are planted in what is nature`s growing season. In Spring, the orchard is lightly mown, although the grass and flowers are allowed to grow thereafter to encourage wildlife. Bees are key to pollination and hives are placed at strategic intervals. No artificial pesticides are used but the trees are sprayed with seaweed to nourish the new growth. Martin places great faith in Mother Nature and says, should the fruit be troubled by aphids, a loveliness of ladybirds will usually come along to eat them.
Soft fruit is picked at the end of June, followed by cherries and plums with apples from August to October. The early varieties, usually Discovery, are sold fresh although later fruit can be stored until Christmas.
Martin and Rachel, in common with so many organic producers, tend to choose fruit varieties for their flavour rather than yield. They may not be the most attractive fruit, says Martin, but they are certainly the tastiest!