Having scooped the new award for Cider Grower of the Year, Thatchers Cider went on to win the Gold Award – overall Edibles Grower of the Year (Fruit) at the recent glittering ceremony in London. In a bid to eliminate quality problems associated with fruit falling to the ground, the company is undertaking a major trial with 70,000 trees planted in a new hedgerow style. The apples are collected using a new hi-tech straddle harvester using a ‘shake and catch’ method. The trial is now assessing the suitability of different varieties to be grown this way.
Carr Taylor Vineyards, based at Westfields in East Sussex, won the inaugural Grower of the Year serving the Viticulture Market, in recognition of its continuing diversification, not only producing high quality grapes but as an outstanding tourist destination.
The new award for ‘Specialist Fruit Grower of the Year’ was presented to Graham Caspell, head of farm and horticultural services at East Malling Research.
Berry Gardens’ members enjoyed a successful evening scooping several awards including Lower Hope Farms, pioneers of protected cherry production, who were joint winners of Top Fruit Grower of the Year alongside pioneering Boxford (Suffolk) Farms. The Soft Fruit Grower of the Year trophy, sponsored by Cocogreen, was won by family-run Littywood Farm, at Bradley, near Stafford.
Berry Gardens’ John Marcar was presented with the Best Agronomist award, while Best New Variety went to Driscoll’s Solero strawberries.
Peter Bukowski of progressive top fruit company AC Goatham was the first person to be awarded the new Best Production Manager award.