Farming Matters

)Innovation

All our fruit is grown traditionally outdoors and that’s what helps to give the fruit its great taste, but we do help Mother Nature.

We implement biological control strategies using companion plants and predators to minimise use of chemicals in crop protection.

We take soil samples for the orchards these are analysed for deficiencies, we gain results from sap and leaf analysis as well.

Deficient nutrients are applied through irrigation tape so leaching is minimized. All our irrigation is scheduled on the basis of the results from soil moisture probes or through using a diviner, in this way we can strive to be as water efficient as possible.

We use a cutting edge ‘rain shower’ hydro cooler to take the summer heat out of our cherries so they reach you in the best possible condition.

Apples and Pears after picking are held in atmospherically controlled stores using the state-of -the- art technology. This also means these cold stores are more economical to run and greener for the environment as well as better preserving the quality of the fruit.

We recently entered into the world of online Social Media with Facebook and Twitter accounts, along with boards on Pinterest. These boards contain our website photographs and a great many more, including some excellent re-pins. Our next step a paperless office, we can but dream!


)Conservation

Along with our commitment to producing the best quality fruit we possibly can, we endeavour to run our farm efficiently, safely, with high standards of environmental and social responsibility; and to this end are proud to be members of LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming). LEAF is the leading organisation in promoting food and farming that is sustainable.

We are committed to farm in an environmentally benign manner that maximises opportunities for wildlife to flourish. A member of staff acts as our conservation champion and is actively undertaking projects including ‘Vole Reversal’ with the Kent Wildlife Trust and the RSPB ‘Farmland Birds’.

We work closely with the Bumblebee Trust to help promote the management of pollinators. Maximizing the potential of our own crops through the creation of pollinator habitats; beetle banks, bee hotels, wildflower strips and ensure that wildlife havens are encouraged around the farm, e.g. nettles near pear orchards, where helpful biological control is a pleasing outcome.


)Heritage

Blackbird-Website-design_FARMIMG-MATTERSOur original Blackbird Brand logo was used up until 10 years ago ‘Pick of the Bunch’, but in 2013 we decided it was time to bring our much loved blackbird up to date as our new orchards were coming into production and reintroduce to the market our premium fruit as Blackbird Farm.


)Memories

The photographs on our website have been kindly supplied by Mrs Margaret Rogers and Mrs Margaret Tolhurst.

Margaret Rogers looks back upon farming life in the 1940s with a smile. Her late husband Brian ‘Binky’ Rogers was a well-known character at the Farm. Binky was particularly recognised for driving the iconic motorcart, known as ‘the Doodlebug’.

In days now long gone many workers used to take their young children into the orchards so it was not unusual to see children playing at the end of the orchard’s rows and entertaining themselves whilst their parents worked. “Occasionally the older children were sent to run an errand to the local shop to buy tobacco for the workers” says Margaret.

In other photographs you will see the pickers enjoying a tea break. Margaret recalls “at around twenty minutes to twelve, one of the ladies in the orchard would light a fire to make tea. The fire would be lit from broken twigs, sticks and paper, with the kettle then hung upon an iron steak over the fire to heat it”.

Margaret Tolhurst (nee Barrett) is in the photograph, taken in 1948, which shows her leading George the horse taking a cartload of cherries from the orchard to the railway station; “after having stopped at the Post Office in order to send telegrams informing the markets that the fruit was on the way”. The cherries would be transported by train to be sold in locations such as Manchester, Liverpool and Covent Garden in London.

We would like to thank them both for the opportunity to use these photographs. We acknowledge the significance of their memories in our farms history. These images allow us to grasp some historical context of the farm, and to take a glimpse at how the cherry harvest used to be managed.

If you would like to see more of these wonderful photographs please click on the Pinterest logo.


)Introducing Blackbird Blue

New this summer our Blackbird blue tray.  Sitting alongside our original Premium Blackbird tray this “quality-led” tray will be making its debut this season with Merchant, a variety of cherry that ripens early in the seBlackbird blue tray 1ason.

During previous harvests great fruit that was not quite up to our exacting standards for the premium Blackbird tray was sold in plain unmarked trays. We know that this fruit still has enough class to proudly go out under our Blackbird branding, so hence the birth of the Blackbird blue tray.

So when you see this new blue tray in your greengrocers you can be rest assured that all aspects of the brand, including quality and most importantly great taste are being met.  An everyday affordable treat fresh from the garden of Kent.