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From The Farm Patrick Johnson At Appletop

Saturday 8th September 2007

From The Farm  Patrick Johnson At Appletop

After graduating form the U. of Guelph with BSc. Agr. Degrees, my wife Helena and I headed east to Cape Breton Island and developed a mixed farm of apples, vegetables, sheep, pigs, and bees. We also produced our own range of dairy products from Guernsey cows which we milked by hand. We realized from the superior quality of our milk, butter, cheese, yogurt and ice cream products that the way that agriculture had been taught to us was suspect. Our farm became what we came to know as �ecological production� which was producing food in line with the ecology of the area by using logical natural inputs. It was 1978.

After nine years we sold the farm to a couple from Manhattan who now run it as a bed and breakfast. We then purchased what has become Appletop Farm in the Beaver Valley. Even though the Beaver Valley apple growing region was committed to modern agriculture methods with plenty of pesticides, we planted orchards and continued with our ecological methods. In 1994 we became certified organic by OCPP.

We also raise sheep for wool and meat, grow spelt grain for export and sell vegetables and eggs with our apples from our farm market in the fall. Of all these endeavors apple production is by far the most labour intensive and extremely difficult to control. Unlike the desert conditions in B.C.�s Okanagan Valley and Washington and Oregon where disease and even pest pressure is minimal; in the Great Lakes area quality organic apple production is extremely difficult. So much so that of the five organic apple producers in The Blue Mountains, Appletop Farm is the only farm that even attempts to produce apples for packing. All other producers grow for the processing apple juice and sauce market.

Therefore if you see a blemish- we allow up to three small blemishes on the skin of our apples - remember what Joni Mitchell said; �give me spots on my apples but leave me the birds and the bees�. We cannot produce the volume of unblemished apples that you see imported from B.C., the U.S.A. or around the globe.

Besides, when you taste our apples grown in composted soils in the most northern latitude in Ontario where apples will survive, then you will taste the difference. The production of sugars in apples is a function of the difference in daytime and nighttime temperatures, as apples bulk up in size during the last months of maturity. The Georgian Bay district � because of the big swing between day and nighttime temperatures in fall - produces exceptionally sweet apples. Our fruit test 12.5 to well over 13 Brix.

After hand harvesting our apples are placed into cold storage before packing. On the packing line we use only a fresh water wash and no waves before they are bagged or boxed. We hope you enjoy our apples.

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