Organic growers win apple awards

Organic growers win apple awards

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A tight-knit family of three organic growers in Oliver have been recognized nationally for the quality of their apples.
Jill, Martin and Jonathan Rothe of JMJ Biodynamic Orchard came home with three awards from the National Apple Competition recently.
The contest, part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Ontario, featured several apple varieties in the commercial, heritage and new category.
It was reported that JMJ Biodynamic was the only organic orchard that entered the competition. The family won “grand champion” in the heritage variety, winning first for their Winesap apples. They also won second for their Red Delicious variety, and third for their Jonagold variety.
Jill noted that organic farms don’t have the same advantages that commercial growers have, yet they can still compete on a superior level.
She contributes their success to well-ripened compost treated with applications of herbal preparations, such as nettle, yarrow, chamomile, dandelion, oak bark and valerian. This allows for healthy soil and results in increased humus levels, which helps to control harmful insect populations.
Martin said he felt “over the moon” when he learned about the awards, but he’s no stranger to them – the family won best overall in the Golden Delicious category in 2010.
Martin said people are still surprised that they continue to grow Winesap apples, a very old variety. “This was one of the premium Winesap growing areas in the 1940s and 50s.”
The family won first place for their Winesaps because of the highly detailed red colour on the fruit.
Sixteen-year-old Jonathan is learning everything his father knows about the business, such as picking, thinning and machinery operation.
“I want the farm to succeed; I want to see it prosper.
The young man noted he plans to attend university and learn a trade, and then come back to the farm to continue the family’s legacy.
The Rothe orchard is based on the principles of biodynamic agriculture, which is the scientific method of collaborating the relationship of plants, animals and micro-organisms.
Jonathan is very proud of the family’s awards, and the fact they are able to create a product that stands above the rest in quality and taste.

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