Tom The Apple Man
What with one thing and another we're a bit behind meeting some of our new suppliers.
Last season we started selling bare root fruit trees from Tom Adams's nursery outside Oswestry. We've been very impressed by the quality of the trees, and intrigued by what he was up to. We popped in to see him last week, and our visit didn't disappoint...
Tom was brought up locally and saved for years to buy some land and fulfill a lifetime's ambition. Like The Mother Tree - another supplier we visited recently - his smallholding is run on permaculture lines. He's done a lot since he bought his 6 1/2 acres 4 years ago. His knowledge matches his drive and energy! Unsurprisingly, he has achieved organic certification, in 2020.
Tom's big thing is heritage apple trees, and he has a lovely selection of old varieties, mostly local to him, and some very rare. Right up our street - we'll be adding more to the apple trees we currently offer from him. He doesn't just grow apples, but also soft fruit like the Denbigh Plum and some other lovely things like Perry Pears. They're all immaculate, mulched with willow chippings and fertilised with green manures, all grown on site.
The trees are rotated with other crops. Tom has volunteer helpers and lets local growers use the site, so there's Chamomile, herbs, vegetables and cut flowers. There's clover in fallow areas, and wildflower strips too. It's all very clever.
His integrated natural pest and disease control seems to be working a treat, and you have to think plants grown like this are going to be more resistant to problems in their later life.
Planting regionally appropriate fruit trees, or native plants from local populations, is also going to mean more resilience and diversity in the flora around us.
It would be great to think this kind of community nursery could play an important part of our plant and food supply. It's not difficult to imagine small scale growers springing up around the country with their own specialisms, either selling to the public directly or to garden centres and larger nurseries. Importing plants and flowers for sale is difficult, environmentally unfriendly, and increasingly expensive. How much better to buy them from a local grower using properly sustainable methods.