Farm Shop telephone: 01531 890 346

All the news from the farm, the latest information on our produce & products and lots more!

Hurray , our winter gleaners are here !

It is always good to hear the chack chack of our winter visitors from Scandinavia and further East from Siberia . They are come to feast on the apples and Mervyn is here to ring them , weigh and measure and not their condition  – all useful information for the British Ornithological Trust.

Read More »

Castle fruit Farm Open Sunday

This Sunday June 9th. Guided walks round our beautiful and bountiful orchards. Bug, Botany and Birds walks Observation Bee Hive, Moth Trap – lots of juice and cakes ! 10.30am – $pm

Read More »

LEAF Farm Open Sunday June 9th 2019

Come and see a working commercial fruit farm which  also wins awards for its care of the environment.Including Guided walks, and Bees, Birds and Moths as special interest sessions. Sunday June 9th between 10.30am and 4pm at Castle Fruit Farm on the B4215 between Newent and Dymock. More information to follow here and on our Facebook page. Weather looking good ! Apple Juice and cake and teas available.

Read More »

Spring is round the corner

Castle Fruit Farm High Spots in 2017. Successful growing and harvesting season.Bumper crops thanks to our great team here and our summer family of harvest workers. Richie and Claire have added a new Baby Bentley,baby Maddie to the team. Having our work recognised by several awards this year. Seeing signs of increasing diversity of natural life on the farm Taking part in the Ledbury Food Group photo year project. Working with our new partner Prima Fruit was a pleasure and a success for both parties Challenges for 2018: The impact of Brexit is still unclear both for our farm and all others who need seasonal labour. Listening to the current debate, not much has changed and there has been very little response from the government, who do not appear to understand the consequences to the rural economy, food security and the survival of our agricultural and horticultural sector. Harvest seasonal labour is not an immigration issue! It is a result of Brexit. Our thriving horticultural and agricultural businesses are an important part of the rural economy. If we no longer invest and disappear , the knock on effect on the rural economy would be significant. Food security : the less

Read More »

Harvest is over!

So harvest is over! Our summer family of pickers are mostly homeward bound after a very busy and lucrative time here. They go home to their communities hoping for good snow as many of them work in the ski business in the winter. They were a good crew and we hope we will see most of them next year. We are still waiting to hear what the procedure for bringing in harvest labour will be next season. All growers here totally rely on this labour – whatever high ideals there are about jobs for local people it is an entirely impractical and unrealistic suggestion. Of course, we could all stop growing and just import from Europe….. The last Jazz and Braeburn were brought in last Friday. Then Bristol gleaners took a couple of tons away last week to distribute to Food Banks and through Fair Shares. We now look forward to the next wave of gleaners: the thrushes, redwings and field fares will swoop noisily in, chack chacking and clear every last bit of fruit from the trees and the ground and hopefully clearing away some bugs too. Amazing that our unpaid army of birds and pollinators together with soil,

Read More »

Harvest Part 2.

Harvest is half way through ! The plums have all been picked and packed and sold  and  the conveyor was put into storage and a cheer went up from Mr B and Damian our packhouse manager. It has been a good year but as you may have noticed Autumn came early , the chill was in the morning air by August 8th and this hastened all fruit into ripeness. Clive and the teams worked long hard hours to get the plums in and now the apples are following fast and earlier than usual.The packhouse worked hard to pack and despatch 147 tons of plums…. In the case of the plums the trees were picked several times to ensure that the plums were  ripe enough but with enough shelf life to last in store. Many growers  pick their plums bullet hard which never become a sweet delicious plum. This leaves many plum buyers disappointed and put off English plums whereas Waitrose specifies their plums from us must be nearly ripe. Our pickers are very  carefully supervised and the whole process more costly but more satisfying. So now to apple harvest. First were the Delbar , next Smitten and Elstar. Conference pears

Read More »

Harvest is starting at Castle Fruit Farm. The Team arrives !

The year is flying by ! I am going to introduce you to our team. The weather, the pollinators, the condition of the trees are all important but above all it is our team that brings the orchards literally to fruition with great quality fruits which keeps us an economic thriving fruit farm. Small family farms like ours are under threat as the economies of scale favours much larger operations than Castle Fruit Farm but we hope that there will continue to be a place for orchards like ours in the rural economy. Michael and Chrissy Bentley came to Castle Fruit farm in 2002 from an arable background. We were very ably supported by Clive Maile our Manager who has amassed a wealth of experience and knowledge over his 37 years on Castle Fruit Farm.  We have now been joined by son Richie ,  together with wife Claire and sons Oskar and Rudi who bring a great new energy to the farm ! The rest of the team is Nick , Mechanic, John  our longstanding semi retired tractor driver, Artur, our  senior tractor driver, Konrad our Field Foreman, Radek, Slavi and Arek. They are all hardworking young men from Poland

Read More »

Pollination and the weather so far this season 2017

The magic of pollination has happened and we have a myriad of insects to thank and above all think about. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male anthers to the female stigma  which is essential to kick start cell division and set the fruit. Poor pollination leads to poor fruit set and yield and misshaped fruits, neither good news! There are many insects that pollinate and to encourage large populations we need to provide sources of pollen and nectar right through from March until September. We must also provide habitat for all these pollinators nesting places and winter hideaways. All our non tree acres must be managed for these very important workers and here on Castle Fruit farm we are increasingly working to provide for them . We leave hedgerow margins, we don’t prune hedges every year, we are planting wild flower banks and keep as much brush, bramble thickets, dead trees and vegetation as possible . We mow every alternate alleyway to let flowers set seed and provide habitat. This is all a far cry from previous practice when farmers were urged to be tidy and cut and trim and spray  everything in sight.What ignorance and with

Read More »

Conservation Agriculture at Castle Fruit Farm

Bentleys Fruit FarmDefinition of Conservation Agriculture   Conservation Agriculture (CA) is a set of soil management practices that minimize the disruption of the soil’s structure, composition and natural biodiversity. CA has proven potential to improve crop yields, while improving the long-term environmental and financial sustainability of farming. The FAO believes that there are three major benefits from CA: Within fields that are controlled by CA the producer will see an increase in organic matter. Increase in water conservation due to the layer of organic matter and ground cover to help eliminate transportation and access runoff. Improvement of soil structure and rooting zone Castle Fruit Farm and Conservation Agriculture. Michael Bentley has long been involved in Farmers Overseas Action Group which is a charity involved in agricultural development amongst other projects, in Uganda. This interest was sparked by 2 years in India as a young graduate volunteer with Quakers. Trained as a soil and water engineer his particular passion has been sustainable farming practices in the tropics which increase yields by paying careful attention to water management and soil structure amongst other things. This is one of the fundamentals of what is now known as Conservation Agriculture or Climate Smart Agriculture.

Read More »

Who will Harvest our 2017 Crops

Who is going to harvest our fruit this year ? Buds are breaking on the Valor plum trees and hurrah,the blackthorn  is in full blossom so the pollinators can get to work. These are our free workers so we try to make sure pollen is available early on by planting goat willow and keeping some of the hedges uncut for their early blossom.  More on the importance of biodiversity later as what is more pressing is organising our harvest workers. Like all farmers we rely on seasonal labour to harvest our crops. In our case this means a group of Bulgarians who come every year for 3-5 months. Who works here has recently become a topic of heated discussion as Brexit and immigration  hit the headlines. There are those who oppose this “immigration” and those who believe we should employ our local unemployed. The situation is not so simple and these are some of the issues as I see them.

Read More »