As we settle back into some dry weather after the sporadic, and sometimes heavy showers of the last week or so, The English Apple Man visits Paul Ward a leading Organic top fruit grower with orchards in Mid Kent and West Kent.
"Mole End Farms grows top fruit organically on approximately 110 Hectares across 8 sites in Kent at Cranbrook, Marden, Goudhurst, Sandhurst and Chart Sutton. We grow, store, pack and market our own produce"
From my Agronomist friend Nigel. Although pressures of Cox have changed very little over the past week, as with the pears,
starch is now degrading quickly indicating rapid fruit maturity.
"Gala is maturing faster this year than at any other time during my 30 years in the fruit
industry and picking should be underway on all sites. Over the past week, average pressures
have plummeted by over 1 kilogramme and starches have fallen close to 25%! By the end of
this week all sites will be at or below 70% starch"
The English Apple Man 'first' met Paul Ward at his Hartley Lands Organic farm circa 25years ago while I was working for FRUITION (now part of World Wide Fruit) as we developed an Organic supply to Waitrose.
Below: From the Mole End Farms website
"Mole End Farms grows top fruit organically on approximately 110 Hectares across 8 sites in Kent at Cranbrook, Marden, Goudhurst, Sandhurst and Chart Sutton. We grow, store, pack and market our own produce.
Below: Paul Ward in a Crimson Crisp orchard
Mole End Farms Ltd was the brainchild of Paul Ward and Sara Rowan who, in 1994, decided that the time was right for a complete career change. Passionate believers in organics, they bought Mole End Farm in Chart Sutton and became the sole directors of Mole End Farms Ltd. This was followed by the purchase of Hartley Lands Farm at Cranbrook which they proceeded to convert to Soil Association organic standards and gradually over the years further holdings and organic orchards have been added.
In June 2017, after a long period of thought, deliberation and soul searching, Sara Rowan decided that the time was right to leave the business to pursue new challenges. Sara is an accomplished artist and had several commissions that she had been asked to do - she also hoped that weather permitting, she would have more time to ride her beloved Harley!
Paul Ward remains the sole director of Mole End Farms Ltd with his wife Jules Ward as company secretary. Paul is supported in the management of the farms by his Farm Manager, Nicoleta Ionita and Agri-business Manager, James Langley-Hunt and a superb, multi- National team of people with diverse skills and knowledge who are committed to achieving the aims and goals of the business"
Growing Organically with conventional pest and nutritional aids not available, requires great attention to maintaining healthy soil. Paul goes to great lengths to ensure the soil has high levels of farmyard manure worked into the soil before planting. This is achieved by spreading FYM up the rows and using a spading machine working it into the soil.
The use of clover grass leys, mowing and mulching with cuttings and where necessary the addition of natural composted manure and approved organic fertilisers. Weed control is generally achieved by mowing and mulching together with appropriately timed cultivation. Conservation and bio-diversity are essential tools in organic production systems, therefore, as many areas as possible around our farm are managed exclusively for wildlife and flora and fauna to sustain and encourage a bank of beneficial insects and to protect a variety of wildlife habitats.
This summer the widespread drought has resulted in stress on apple and pear orchards and even with irrigation, the intense heat and lack of rain has "found out" the marginal soils. It is clear to see that Paul Ward's soil management has paid off as fruit size is not an issue with most of his orchards/varieties!
Below: the soil is enriched with FYM and will retain moisture even in drought conditions
Below: Spartan is one of Paul's varieties growing successfully Organically
Below: left; Cox Royale and right; Crimson Crisp
Below: Pirouette® - Rubinstep is marketed by Paul as Blaze. Whatever you call it, it is delicious!
The Reubinstep originates from the Chech Republic. Paul Ward at Mole End Organics was provided with three varieties of graft wood as part of the Organic Link Programme many years ago but of the three varieties this apple was truly outstanding in both its taste and appearance. It has good tolerance against disease based on its polygenetic characteristics, making it an ideal choice for organic production.
Below: these Gala trees are carrying a massive crop of apples
Below: left; more Gala and right; Falstaff
Below: Stardance with sunscorch visible
Below: this new variety looks to be a winner, with scab and mildew tolerance and great visual and eating potential
Below: More pictures of the new variety which Paul Ward has very high hopes for
Click on Mole End Farms
That is all for this week
The English Apple Man