A Day at Chicory Crops

We had a lovely day at Chicory Crops fruit farm on Thursday, 21st January. We went along to meet brothers Jake and Rupert Simpson to find out how the farm works and what their favourite aspects of farming are.

Jake and Rupert themselves both have very different job roles on the farm. Whilst Jake is in charge of the business side of proceedings, Rupert oversees the outdoor growing process.

We visited several orchards and fields where they grow apples, pears, cherries, raspberries and gooseberries. The fields look quite bare at the moment, however it is a crucial season to prune and prepare the trees.

We were interested to learn that the farm is operating at zero waste. The best apples are sold to the retailers, but apples that don’t make the grade are sold to cider and juicing houses. However apples which aren’t suitable for sale of any kind, go into a large mechanical ‘stomach’ called a Biodigester. It was also great to hear about the latest farming innovations such as 'UFO', where the trees are cultivated sideways to grow more like a hedge than a bushy tree. This increases efficiency when it comes to picking and so far has produced a really good yield.

The highlight of the day was getting a lesson on a forklift tractor. Rupert kindly taught us how to drive, and lift crates on the tractor. This is actually quite a tricky skill to have, and takes lots of practise to perfect the safe and steady movement of the crates and boxes.

We then went into the packhouse, where yellow Amelia apples were being washed, dried, scanned and measured before they were packed into boxes. Amelia apples were named after the daughter of an M&S store colleague who passed away after a battle with cancer. A percentage of all sales goes toward Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Chicory Crops supplies their delicious fruit to M&S throughout the year.