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 we grow , the more we import and everything that means for all of us : prices, the satisfaction of knowing where our food comes from among many.
- The answers are not mechanisation – this may help in the future but is not an answer to this issue now.
- There will never be the numbers of skilled harvest workers available locally. The industry requires 1000s of workers for intense seasonal work – this does not fit the profile of those seeking work in UK as it did in the past where mainly women and itinerant workers were our harvesters. All first world countries bring in seasonal labour to harvest their produce
- Our conclusion is there is a clear need for the introduction of an updated Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme-and fast as the growing season is starting
As we put on another jumper or two (or three)it is concerning that our first workers of the season are rightly nowhere to be seen and yet in 3 weeks the first blossom should be appearing requiring that army of pollinators which starts the wonderful process of fruit development. Help ! Global weather patterns are different this year and we can only hope our vast numbers of hoverflies, bees, and other pollinators are going to come out of the woodwork and temperatures will rise.
And so no doubt the challenges will continue in 2018 and we will endeavour to surmount them. Increasingly we are focussing on building the biodiversity on the farm with bug hotels, log piles, pollinator seed mixes, bird boxes and small mammal refuges.We must work with nature as it is our responsibility to hand on this orchard land in good heart to the next generation.