We, Biofruit, are a cooperation of six organic fruit growers from the Netherlands. We cultivate a wide variety of apples including James Grieve, Dalinco, Delbard, Boskoop, Red Star-Russet and Red Pinova. Some of us also grow organic pears and a few plums. In 2012, two of us (Harmen and Harrie) were nominated in the "Best Apple of the Netherlands" election, out of a total of five nominees, and Harrie won the first prize with a Dalinco apple! Organic certification is a minimum standard for Biofruit. All of us are committed to further sustainable practices in our own way. This ranges from maintaining heirloom varieties, to engaging in the protection of the bird population in and around our orchards. We are also involved in the local community and welcome visitors on our farms. We started in 1998 and today, Biofruit is one of the leading suppliers of organic apples and pears in the Benelux.
We would like to briefly introduce ourselves to you:
Harrie van den Elzen of De Boomgaard (third from the left, with curly hair and glasses)
"Me and my wife Elliane run a biodynamic (Demeter) fruit growing business in the village of Zeeland, in the province of Noord-Brabant here in Holland. Our farm covers 13 acres and we are specialised in special varieties of organic apples and pears. These varieties include Santana, Red Topaz, and Dalinco: which are all scab resistant varieties that therefore need less inputs. We try to create an ecological balance in the orchard that allows for biodiversity. Some of the measures we take include high grass in between the trees, wild areas sown in with local plants and flowers, a toad pool and a "bird hotel" with numerous nesting houses against the wall of the processing shed. Furthermore, we prune the trees in an unconventional way: 80% of the pruning is actually done in the summer months, so sun and wind have free access and we get less bark wounds in the trees that can get infected during the wet season. This makes our trees stronger, more vital and results in a higher production. My favourite apple variety is the Dalinco: in 2012 I won the first prize in the election of the Best Apple of the Netherlands with it!"
Harmen Peters ('t Gelders Eiland)
"Together with my wife Carla we run a fruit farm covering 12 acres of land on the border of Germany and The Netherlands close to the nature reserve De Gelderse Poort. We grow numerous varieties of organic apples including Elstar, Santana, Topaz, Rajka and Colina. Cultivating so many different varieties is not only good for the bio-diversity, but enables us to make a delicious apple juice right here on the farm. Harmen is very keen to ensure that bird-of-prey find nesting opportunities in or near our orchards and Carla runs a small farm store where sells a variety of organic foods in addition to our own fruit and, of course, our homemade juice, which has been awarded several prizes."
Henri and Diny Albers of Boomgaard Bokhoven
"Our orchard is located near the village of Bokhoven in North Brabant on the edge of the Maas river. This part of the world is wonderfully peaceful and quiet. After my career as a teacher at an agricultural school I was looking for a new challenge so in 1991, together with my wife Diny, we started growing organic appels (Elstar, Jonagold and Santana). Apart from growing delicious organic apples we organize workshops and field trips to meet the growing demand for healthy food and to increase people's awareness how sustainable cultivation contributes to a healthy environment. We also organize educational afternoons in our orchard."
"Here in Schalkwijk (near Utrecht) we are running an organic fruit farm covering 13 acres. Besides apples and pears, we also have some plum trees. In 1985 we started growing different varieties of apples including specialties such as Red Russet, Jonathan, and Notaris. Many of these are high stem varieties, which create a unique environment in the orchard – attracting different insects and small animals. I have also noticed a different vegetation in the areas surrounding the taller trees."
"I live in the town of Meijel in the south of The Netherlands where I run an organic fruit farm covering 15 acres. Here we grow organic apples, pears and plums. The farm is located in a touristic, wonderfully green part of The Netherlands where there are many hiking and cycling trails. In the late 90s, I took over the (conventional) fruit farm from my father and immediately switched to organic."
Gerard van Noord & Lourdes Sanchez (Fruitbedrijf Katijf)
"Together with my wife Lourdes, we have 12 acres of organic orchards near the historic town of Zaltbommel. We mainly grow apples however, along the edges of our orchards, we also have some organic pear trees. I switched to organic agriculture because it brings me closer to nature. I often walk past the trees and it’s great to see that they are looking better and better. There's really more life in the orchard ever since I switched to organic."