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The English Apple Man


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 July 2024 - The English Apple Man visits Fruit Focus


This week; Fruit Focus - the annual trade show held at NIAB at East Malling near Maidstone in Kent took place on Wednesday 10th July.


I can't remember when the first Fruit Focus was held, but I seem to have been going for many, many years.


Fruit Focus has developed over the last decade from an event dominated by soft fruit; e.g.. Strawberries, Raspberries, et al. with interest from top fruit growers, especially in the availability of machinery, but now Viticulture is the dominate entity.


Below: A view of part of the showground on Wednesday; note the clouds, it did not rain and the temperature was very a very pleasant 18-20 C unlike so many recent recent years when Fruit Focus baked under circa 30 degrees C or more!



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05 July 2024 - The English Apple Man and his wife enjoy a family wedding


"At the age we are (Octogenarians) it seems like every other week, we learn of another friend passing and attending 'Celebrations of life Ceremonies' with increasing frequency!


SO: Last weekend, it was an absolute delight to attend a wedding ceremony!


The wedding saw my wife's Great Niece Zara marry her partner of five years James at a Charming wedding location in Wiltshire.



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28 June 2024 - The English Apple Man comments on matters of interest


Due to the English Apple Man receiving 'minor operation' (Carpal Tunnel) two weeks ago the 'right hand has not been able to perform it's routine tasks easily. Thankfully stiches were removed yesterday and normality is approaching.


Of interest!


Below: Left to right. Guy Singh-Watson (Riverford) Ali Capper (BAPL) and Sysco GB representative


At the recent Festival of Fresh held at Evesham United


Ali Capper, Sysco GB and Riverford were among the award winners at FPJ's 2024 open-air summer festival


Winners were carefully chosen by FPJ's editorial team for standout performance in the UK market over the past 12 months.


The awards were presented at Festival of Fresh 2024 which was hosted by Nationwide Produce at Evesham United Football Club on 13 June.


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21 June 2024 - Next Generation visit California Part Two


Day 5


- Family Tree Farms, Fresno. Large scale Stone Fruit and Blueberry grower with a large focus on variety development.


- Burro demonstration, automated pickers



Day 6


- SunBerry Farms, Monterey. Large scale organic strawberry production. 500Ha farm of Organic strawberries.


- Taylor Farms, Salinas. Food service salad production.


Fog City Farms, Cannabis production, marketing, and branding. This was followed by an evening playing games on the beach by the Golden Gate Bridge, however British weather made for a quick exit to the restaurant!


Day 7


Baseball at Oracle Park,


Evening at Trattore Farms and Winery, Healdsburg. Inspirational talk from Tim Bucher owner of Trattore Farms and founder of Agtonomy, autonomous systems and software application.


Day 8


Jackson Family Wines at La Crema Winery. Regenerative farming techniques and wine tasting.




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14 June 2024 - Next Generation visit California Part One


Next Generation Fruit Group visit to California Part 1


Regular readers will be aware that The English Apple Man travelled with The Under 40's Fruit Group on several occasions visiting France, Poland, Benelux, and South Africa between 2010 and 2016. After The Under 40's visited Chile the 'then new committee' took the decision to 'update the module; and rebrand to 'The NextGen; Fruit Group.


Click on: The NextGen Fruit Group Committee - California 2024


The English Apple Man thanks Jake Kinderman Top Fruit Manager Tillington Top Fruit Hereford.


Jake, who is now a member of the new committee for the next Next Generation event sent me the official press release and his own account including excellent pictures from the very busy itinerary during the visit to California in May 2024.


"It was a jam packed 8 days that I believe everyone on the trip would say was a fantastic time.


Well organised, a good mix of business/growers from different parts of the UK Fruit industry.


A highlight of the trip has to be Family Tree Farms. For a business to scale up from a few hundred hectares in 2003 to 40,000 now its staggering feat.


Just a huge thank you to the committee for organising such a well run trip and setting the bar high for the new committee to try and top!


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07 June 2024 - It's an early season for British Cherries


The British Cherry season usually starts circa mid June, in East Kent, but this year picking started before the end of May


Talking to Steve Castle Farm Manager at Mount Ephraim (and known as 'Steve Cherryman Castle' as he has spent most of his working life involved with Cherries) yesterday, he confirmed this is their earliest ever start to Cherry Harvest!

Below: left. Earlise and right. Folfer

We picked EARLISE cherries her at Mount Ephraim on 26th May which is our earliest date.This seems to be a week or so earlier than a typical year. In years 2017 and 2022 we picked on 29th May and in others years between 6th and 12th June. Although EARLISE is not known for bold flavour, it seemed particularly bland this year. FOLFER is tasty which suggests other varieties won't suffer from lack of flavour as EARLISE has.


Maturity across the varieties this year seems to be mixed,with MERCHANT taking it's time to mature. Other varieties appear to have more mixed maturity on the trees with more green,pink and red fruit than usual,which could make picking more tricky.


Yields are looking good to heavy which are a result of early covering bumblebee hives ,honey bees and lack of frosts. MERCHANT is looking heavy, as is VANDA. The jewel in the cherry crown (KORDIA) looks promising and as exciting as ever.



We suffered with several incidents of tunnel damage this year but of course that is the risk we take.




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31 May 2024 - Lots going on!


News from AC Goatham, Great Britain's largest apple and pear grower by area and tonnage


Having gained exclusive supply to ALDI last year, Goatham's and ALDI have entered into a new venture!


AC Goatham has signed a new £750 million deal with Aldi, which will see the Goatham family supply the retailer for a further 20 years.


AC Goatham & Son has supplied Aldi with apples and pears since 2016 and was announced last year as the retailer's sole supplier of British apples.


The £750m deal will also see the introduction of a new orchard - a 200-acre plot on New Green Farm in Gravesend, growing a mix of Gala and Braeburn apples.


Aldi, which is the UK's fourth largest retailer, said the deal would provide 'vital support' for the British fruit sector.


Founded in 1947, and run by Clive Goatham and his son Ross, the farm supplies 250m apples and pears each year - more than five times the volume it initially supplied in 2016.




The business has big plans for its future, including work to extend the growing season with controlled atmosphere storage.


Ross Goatham, managing director of the farm, said: "This is a fantastic achievement and a real testament to the work both AC Goatham & Son and Aldi have put into the agreement to have created something truly collaborative.


Julie Ashfield, managing director of buying at Aldi UK, added that the deal demonstrated the supermarket's "long-term commitment to championing British produce."


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24 May 2024 - ELECTION


With an Election announced for 4th July The English Apple Man is 'pondering over what to write' for this week's Journal


Before I continue, I was delighted to hear my good friends Nick Dunn and his daughter Steph' have enjoyed success at The Chelsea Flower Show with their new ornamental cherry; STARLIGHT


Below: From their website


In cased you missed it, Prunus 'Starlight'R has been awarded the highly coveted title of RHS Plant of the Year 2024. Nick and Steph have been down at Chelsea telling experts and journalists all about it. Prunus 'Starlight'R was hosted on the GreenJjam Nurseries stand in the Grand Pavilion!


Stephanie Dunn James, Director of the tree nursery Frank P Matthews, said the tree features white, star-shaped flowers. "the variety was originally bred in 2006, but woody trees take a long time to trial and breed." The Prunus 'Starlight' is particularly unique as it is one of only a couple of varieties that flower in winter.




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17 May 2024 - Apple Growers visit Downing Street


Below: Apple Growers Carmella Meyer and James Simpson


Carmella Meyer and James Simpson attended 10 Downing Street yesterday for the FarmToFork summit. Have you seen the headlines? We're absolutely delighted with the pledges - The future of British orchards and the growth of British apple and pear volumes is definitely looking brighter today!


It was a privilege to represent all British top fruit growers. Whilst there is still much not working as well as it could with the fresh produce supply chain in the UK, people are listening.




Press release - PM sets out blueprint to boost British fruit and vegetable sector: May 13 2024


Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sets out his blueprint to boost British fruit and vegetable sector as the first UK Food Security Index is published.


A new UK Food Security Index will be published tomorrow , as the Prime Minister tells British farmers and growers that we must go further to support them and secure the nation's food supplies.


The first draft of the UK Annual Food Security Index will allow the government, industry and farmers to monitor the impacts of external factors, such as Russia's barbaric invasion of Ukraine or extreme adverse weather events.


It will set out how Government will track UK-wide food security on an annual basis, monitoring domestic food production, land use, input costs and farmer productivity. This year's index will show that the UK farming sector is at its most productive since records began.




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10 May 2024 - British Asparagus season is now under way!


British Asparagus






This week will feature British Asparagus, the finest Asparagus available to the UK Consumer, but only for a relatively short time.


In my opinion, British Asparagus, British Strawberries & British Strawberries are 'unmatched' for texture & flavour!


While my life has been dominated by apples, an appreciation of fine food is high in my loves in life




To quote George Bernard Shaw: "There is no love sincerer than than the love of food"








The English Apple Man and English Asparagus


Back in 1996, Victor Aveling of The Asparagus Growers Association approached ENFRU (The English Fruit Company) with a view to ENFRU marketing asparagus due to the lack of commitment (and financial return) from specialist Asparagus traders who supplied 12 months of the year with imported/UK mix.


At that time I was leading the technical team at ENFRU and with my commercial colleagues had to create a procedures and quality manual structure aligned to our existing procedures approved for Supermarkets. In addition I visited all the asparagus growers who were members of AGA to audit and advise on individual sites improvements needed to meet Supermarkets requirement standards.


I particularly remember visiting Victor and his wife with my commercial colleague Graham Basset and invited for lunch, encountered for the first time Mrs Aveling's home made 'asparagus soup' - verdant, delicious and after two bowls, possibly inducing mild symptoms of dyspepsia!


In 1976, March farmer Victor Aveling took the plunge and decided to shift away from growing potatoes, wheat and strawberries to growing asparagus.


Victor 'a larger than life' character was passionate about English as opposed to imported asparagus and wanted 'English to be recognised as superior and growers rewarded financially.


Andy Allen


Another grower who I particularly enjoyed visiting was Andy Allen at Portwood Asparagus in Norfolk.


Andy was back then a very progressive grower, his quality and presentation outstanding. But I particularly remember his asparagus packhouse which was set in an old 'Tudor barn' - 'talk about wow factor' - I could just imagine this scene photographed in a M&S magazine!


Rock on nearly 30 years and Andy Allen's business is one of the leading asparagus enterprises.


Unfortunately it was a 'one year adventure' as we (ENFRU) could not raise prices from Supermarkets and compete with established suppliers as they subsidised price of UK product from 10 month supply of cheaper imported product.




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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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