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The English Apple Man


21st Apr 2023 - Trees responding to warmer weather

It's been a bit warmer and trees & plants are responding, although very slowly!


Its' not just plants that respond to sunshine, I definitely come alive as the barometer rises!


Looking at the weather forecast, it does not suggest any really warm days and indeed the possibility of some frost!


So most varieties of apple will 'drift into blossom' instead of an explosion.


Looking at the varieties in my garden, L-R. Red Windsor is the most advanced, followed by James Grieve and Red Devil.


This week the Marden Fruit Show Society, organisers of The National Fruit Show held their AGM at The New Hub at NIAB East Malling Research. An exciting year ahead as this coming November (1st and 2nd) celebrates the 90th anniversary show.


This week's Journal touches on the many elements of the NFS AGM and Conference, without going into much detail. In the coming weeks The English Apple Man will expand on the detail of some of the high profile aspects.


NIAB's chief executive Professor Mario Caccamo oversees the Executive Team.


Professor Mario Caccomo welcomed MFSS members to the 'New Hub' at EMR and proudly gave an overview of the exciting new developments at East Malling which 'cements' this research centre as a world class scientific facilty!


Professor Mario Caccamo was appointed as the Head of Crop Bioinformatics at NIAB in 2015, Managing Director of NIAB EMR in 2017 and NIAB CEO in October 2021.



"NIAB EMR NIAB's East Malling site, in Kent, is a world-class centre of excellence for applied research and innovation in commercial horticulture. As the UK's largest horticultural research and development organisation, NIAB at East Malling undertakes work primarily in perennial and clonally propagated crops. We provide scientific research, technical services and practical advice to improve the yield, efficiency and resilience of crop production across the sector"








We are grateful to MHA Macintyre Hudson for sponsoring this year's AGM and to our National Fruit Show sponsors, BASF, H L Hutchinsons, N.P Seymour and Worldwide Fruit.


Below: Sarah Calcutt introducing the AGM agenda and presenters participating in the Conference



Below: Marden Fruit Show Honorary Chair Sarah Calcutt and CEO Sally Flanagan


Sarah unexpectantly had to step into the breach as sadly our new CEO Sally Flanagan who prepared all the Agenda arrangements was taken unwell in the early morning.


Sarah has been our Chair for 14 years and under her guidance taken the annual National Fruit Show onto another level. Happily she will stay on as Honorary Chair.



The 90th National Fruit Show will be on the 1st and 2nd November 2023. Now entering our 90th year dedicated to showcasing the British top and soft fruit, the National Fruit Show is the show 'by growers for growers'.






"We will be back at the Kent Showground, Detling, Maidstone, Kent. ME14 7JF in November 2023".







Treasurer Chris Morris presented the annual accounts which emphasised the strength of MFFS as the 'Showplace' of British Apples and Pears after the highly successful 2022 National Fruit Show.


Chris Morris is CFO of Avalon Produce, with many years involved in the finances of high profile Apple Cooperatives, Chris is an invaluable addition to the show team. Assisted by Liz and Sarah, our accounts are in good hands.















Below: Teresa Wickham retires as NFS President


The National Fruit Show has had many influential Presidents, but Teresa Wickham with her growing background and consumate understanding of the top fruit industry been the perfect President over the last three years. We will miss her involvement, but know her counsel is always available.


Teresa Wickham, produce doyenne and retail phenomenon, is the archetypal pioneer. From her kitchen table in 1979, she 'declared war' on French apples and co-founded the Women's Farming Union, which ran a ground breaking campaign to revitalise the UK fruit industry.


By 1990, she was the first woman divisional director of UK retailer Safeway, where she initiated the Strathclyde Food Project, bringing together growers and retailers to close the UK's trade gap. Soon after, she became an adviser to Sainsbury's on its £1 billion corporate responsibility programme.


Since then, she has held numerous roles managing and developing areas of business, primarily in food, agriculture and the retail industry, including governor of the Royal Agricultural College, chairman of the Oxford Farming Conference and non-executive director of New Covent Garden Market Authority. All culminating in the 'Woman of the Decade in Food Farming and Innovation' accolade, awarded in India by the Women's Economic Forum in 2018.


Today, though no longer consulting - and in her 70s - Wickham continues to energise and influence the industry as president of the National Fruit Show (NFS), a member of the Harvard PAPSAC Committee, and as a regular broadcaster for the BBC on retail and consumer issues.


Teresa Wickham's trailblazing, and prolific, journey in produce began when she married Kent fruit farmer Robin, at 21 - having trained as a Cordon Bleu cook and just embarked on a teaching career at Le Cordon Bleu London. The transition to rural life near Tunbridge Wells in the late 1960s was nonetheless an easy one for the adaptable young Wickham, the second eldest of nine children to entrepreneurial parents.



Catherine Paice elected President of The National Fruit Show


Catherine is an experienced journalist and editor, skilled in rural and agricultural business including land ownership and occupation, rural business management and food chain/commodities.


Catherine is recognised as a strong media (radio and written) and communication professional with an MA in English from University of Cambridge.


An earlier article by Catherine


Covid and Brexit.


"What a time to be talking about food and food supplies, and what a year it has been for grocery. How far have retailers stepped up? What impact will the return of foodservice have? Ocado has not only had a bumper year but has been expanding around the world, spurred by demand for its advanced technology and robot-operated warehouses.


It has tie ups with Kroger in the US, Casino in France and Aeon in Japan, and is also planning three new warehouses in the UK this year, which will boost capacity by 40%.


I always look forward to the City Food Lecture and this year with particular interest (despite not being able to enjoy the splendour of London's Guildhall) - with the intriguing Mel Smith, CEO OCADO Retail, as keynote speaker".





James Nicholls Memorial Lecture


At this year's AGM, The James Nichols Lecture was given by Emily Norton.


The title of Emily's Lecture is "Making sense of the agricultural transition: highlights, lowlights and what's needed next".


Emily is Head of Rural Research at Savills. She qualified as a lawyer in London before returning to her farming roots via a MSc in Sustainable Agriculture at Harper Adams.


She has undertaken various roles in food and farming, including local food organisations and working in Brussels for an MEP on agricultural and environmental policy matters.


She joined Savills in 2018 and leads a team of 10 rural researchers dedicated to providing market leading insight and advice on farming, climate and sustainability issues. Emily works with private, charitable and institutional clients to develop communication and investment strategies across the land-based sector. This includes responses to the new Agriculture and Environment Acts in England, and emerging Natural Capital opportunities across the country.


Emily was a member of the 2022 Defra Tenancy Working Group under Baroness Rock. She is a Nuffield Scholar, sits on the CLA's national policy committee and she was Chair of the Oxford Farming Conference 2023. She lives on a farm in Norfolk with her family.


Below: Emily Norton delivers the James Nicholls Memorial Lecture



The English Apple Man Comments.


I was in awe of Emily Norton's stunning Lecture. The ease of which she delivered her presentation AND the content within left all present commenting on her capability! "Should be an MP" - "Should be Minister of Agriculture" - we all felt here was someone who should be in a position of power and influence!
















Below: NFS Education officer Sam Smith delivers her presentation on 'upward progress' of Education Programme


Education Officer - Samantha Smith - Truly outstanding in her field, it was a great day when Sam adopted the fruit show and developed our education programme.


Now leading a small but perfectly formed team, she is also one of the first land-based STEM ambassadors.



Below: Dr Robert Saville presents 'Growing Kent and Medway' a valuable initiative for growers embracing 'green principals and grant supported for green projects



Growing Green - Interested in going green as a business but not sure where to start?


We have compiled the resources and tools to help you get started on your net-zero journey.


Our Growing Green pilot programme, led by Growing Kent and Medway, worked with 33 food and drink businesses to reduce their carbon emissions. From that initial project, we have produced case studies to showcase decarbonisation initiatives. See how your business can become more sustainable.




Below: Robert Mitchell informs members of how 'Growing Green' has assisted his business


Robert Mitchell Farms is a new family enterprise, developed from 100 years of farming expertise within the Mitchell Family. We produce top quality Bramley apples, Conference pears, Damsons and Cobnuts for processing and local markets.


"Our free-draining sandy loam soils and gently rolling aspect provide the perfect environment for the Bramley apples to crop heavily and produce their characteristic acidic flavours".


Robert Mitchell is the fourth generation of the Mitchell Family, who have been farming in Kent, The Garden of England, since 1892 growing various fruits and winning many prizes such as the National Fruit Show Store Operator of the Year 2010, and the joint winner of Grower of the Year 1999.


Taking advantage of the Growing Green pilot programme, Robert refurbished one of his cold stores by replacing the existing (old) leaky door with a new purpose built door delivering a store using far less energy, fulfilling the Growing Green principles.









Below: Clive Baxter explained how a challenge with his Asian pears turned into an opportunity































Below: Philip Doubleday is developing a 'Doubleday Cherry Wine' from his Morello Cherries



Below: Mark Lumsden-Taylor from MHA and a sponsor, presents MHA Global business profile


We are a firm of chartered accountants, tax and business advisers. From offices across the UK, we provide a full range of financial and business services to enterprises and individuals helping them to achieve growth and long-term success.


We constantly challenge ourselves to lead and compete with the very latest industry thinking. We've developed corporate expertise across a variety of sectors to offer you the best possible financial advice.






















Below: Caroline Ashdown reviews the Long Term Storage Classes



There are four classes for apples; Gala, Bramley, Cox and Any Other Variety Dessert Apple.


The results of the Long-Term Farm Stored Fruit competition were announced at the Marden Fruit Show Society AGM on Wednesday 19 April 2023. Thank you to the sponsors of the competition Landseer Ltd, Wealden AM, Bloomfields Town Planners Ltd, Lambert & Foster Ltd and Isolcell S.P.A.


Judging took place on 21 February 2023 and points are awarded for:


Apples - Ground colour of skin 25; Absence of shrivel or greasiness 25; Firmness of flesh 25; Absence of disorders and rots 25.


Pears - Ground colour of skin 20; Absence of shrivel 20; Firmness of flesh 20; Absence of disorders and rots 20; Ripening of fruit at 18°C 20.


Place Exhibitor


Class 22 Gala 1st A C Goatham & Son


Class 22 Gala 2nd A Hinge & Sons


Class 22 Gala 3rd Simon Bray




Class 23 Bramley 1st A C Goatham & Son


Class 23 Bramley 2nd Simon Bray


Class 23 Bramley 3rd F W Mansfield & Son




Class 24 AOV Dessert 1st Simon Bray


Class 24 AOV Dessert 2nd A Hinge & Sons Ltd


Class 24 AOV Dessert 3rd F W Mansfield & Son


Class 25 Cox OP 1st Simon Bray


Class 25 Cox OP 2nd J L Baxter & Son


Class 25 Cox OP 3rd F W Mansfield & Son




Class 26 Pears 1st J L Baxter & Son


Class 26 Pears 2nd A C Goatham & Son


Class 26 Pears 3rd F W Mansfield & Son




Class 27 Braeburn 1st F W Mansfield & Son


Class 27 Braeburn 2nd Moatlands Farm


Class 27 Braeburn 3rd A C Goatham & Son




President Catherine Paice presents left. Gala Class winner AC Goatham and right. JL Baxter with their Pear Trophies



Below: left. Simon Bray receives the any other variety class Trophy and right. Darren Wallis with Bramley Trophy on behalf of AC Goatham



That is all for this week, in future weeks The English Apple Man will enlarge upon some of the elements of this week's AGM and Conference


Take care


The English Apple Man