SandowFarm-Gleaner

Local orchard one of two certified organic in N.B.

Local orchard one of two certified organic in NB by Tara Chislett of the Daily Gleaner

A Keswick Ridge apple orchard has become one of only two certified organic apple orchards in the province.  Sandow Farm recently received its international certification through the Organic Crop Improvement Association.  Carleton County’s HutLo Acres is the only other certified organic orchard in New Brunswick.

Marieka Chaplin, who purchased the orchard with her husband Philip in 2011, said her family is excited to have its new status for the 2013 season.  “Typically for a farm to become organic, they would need three years of applying to be organic and doing all the paperwork and of course not using any synthetic herbicides or pesticides or insecticides or fertilizers,” she said.

“But in our case, we bought this farm from a family that had owned it 19 years pesticide-free so we had just an 18-month transition period allowing us to be certified this year.”

Chaplin said the process of being certified organic is rigorous with a lot of requirements such as not using chemical fertilizers and only using sprays that are approved for organic crops, something that can be a challenge for orchardists.

“They’re quite a heavily sprayed crop,” she said.  “Most people don’t realize that because apples have such a healthy persona, if that’s the right word.”  In many cases, Chaplin said orchardists spray for scab, a disease of apple trees caused by a fungus that produces dark blotches or lesions on the leaves and fruit.

Because the primary crop as Sandow Farm – the Sandow apple, an older variety of apple known for storing well over the winter – is scab-resistant, Chaplin said her family doesn’t have to use any sprays, even the approved ones for organic farms.

Although there are a lot of requirements to maintaining organic status, including an annual recertification process, Chaplin said there are a lot of benefits for the small orchard.  As a result of its certification, it is now listed with the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network and if in future years they want to add crops to the farm, they can also receive organic certification.

Chaplin said with interest in buying local increasing, her family is excited to be able to provide another opportunity for organic options to those who want them.

IMG_3935We have had very a positive response to our organic apple u-pick this year.  Our 2013 season lasted 23 days this year and in large part the lovely weekend weather created a bustling orchard environment on Saturdays and Sundays.  Thanks to all of you who made it out to our orchard this year and good luck with all your apple eating, baking and processing.

Thank you for your support!

We will be OPEN for U-Pick apple customers starting this Saturday, September 28th.  We will be open 7 days a week, 10am to dusk.  We will post when we are closed for the season.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is our first season as certified organic and our prices remain the same as last year.  We are providing our customers with a 20lb drawstring bag to fill for a cost of $20 (cash please).

We also have the following items for sale at our farm stand:

  • Organic garlic
  • Organic squash
  • 100% beeswax candles
  • Organic apple jelly

We do have a bigger apple crop  and anticipate being open for much longer than last year.  The apples are still ripening so don’t feel you need to rush out here (they sweeten with frost).  We are mostly opening up this weekend because we know there are a lot of keen organic apple pickers out there and the weather is looking grand!  And it is Organic Week…

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Abundant Sandow apples in our 2013 orchard.

Abundant Sandow apples in our 2013 orchard.

We have had lots of inquiries recently regarding the start of our 2013 U-Pick Season.  We anticipate the apples being ripe at the very end of September and then lots of apple-picking to be had in October.  If you would like to be on our e-mail notification list for our opening date, please contact us.

I have been noticing the lack of sun and time spent outside this winter.  There are so many reasons why I don’t “get out” enough.  Some of my constraints are work schedule, cold temperatures and limitations due to our children’s tolerance to cold weather.  Winter seems so long when you’re house bound.

Phil using our NEW Stihl pole pruning saw.

Phil using our NEW Stihl pole pruning saw.

Then apple and pear pruning season arrives, almost as medicine to help us ensure we have meaningful work in nature, in the middle of winter.  Our pruning season starts in February, and if it was like last year, lasts until the end of March.  We are pruning our trees when they are dormant, but also when the most severe weather is behind us.  That way the cuts that we make to the trees will heal over better.  Our orchard was in great need of pruning when we purchased it and we know we have 3 years of guaranteed pruning rigour to “restore it”.  This is Pruning Year 2.

Pruning lets more light reach the fruit so makes for larger, better quality fruit.  In the case of our Sandow apple variety, branches have a tendency to grow vertically.  This preponderance for vertical growth makes it harder to pick apples because they are generally out of reach on large trees such as ours.  Most apples actually set fruit on branches that grow horizontally.  By pruning we try to eliminate those branches that won’t produce apples (vertical) and preserve and encourage the horizontal branches.

One of our future orchardists.

One of our future orchardists.

Through pruning we also aim to eliminate branches that cross each other, or branches that reach out into neighbouring trees. Last summer we purchased a Stihl Power Pruner which Philip is using in the orchard this year.  Cuts aren’t as precise as those completed with our hand tools but the power tool will enable us to prune the orchard more efficiently, given that our time is precious.

Our children benefit from pruning season as well.  They love to see meaningful tasks being undertaken and of course they enjoy the glimpses of spring that we experience on these Perfect Pruning Days.

Our latest farm venture is crafting beeswax candles.  Locally we had a hard time finding pure beeswax candles to fit our Advent wreath as pictured below.  Our solution: to make the custom-make our candles.  We are hoping that others will like this concept and we will be testing this hypothesis at some upcoming Christmas events.

Please drop by to visit us at the following markets:

Fredericton Northside Market: Dec, 7 (noon to 7pm) and 8 (8am to 5pm) then Dec. 14 (noon to 7pm) and 15 (8am to 5pm)
Christmas at the Boyce Market: Dec 9 and Dec 16 both days 10am to 4pm

Rolled beeswax candles in an Advent wreath

Our U-Pick is officially CLOSED for the season.  We have been “picked out”.  Thanks everyone for a great, but incredibly short season!

With our “light” crop of apples this year we recommend coming the farm before mid-October.  We have had good customer response, relative to the amount of apples we have to offer.  Don’t tarry!

We have crab apple jelly for sale at the farm for $7, made by Warrington Farm with our apples, plus organic sugar and lemons.  It is a great gift idea.

Crab apple jelly for sale: $7

We will be OPEN for U-Pick apple customers starting this Saturday, September 29th.  We will be open 7 days a week, 9am to dusk.  Last year we were open for 4 weeks but aren’t expecting such a long season this year due to considerably lower Sandow yield.  This year we are providing bags to our customers as pictured below.  You can fill yours for $20.

This bag can be filled with Sandow apples for $20