The Plaint of Fruit Farmers in Pluckley
While sitting in the haunted village of Pluckley, taking a pot of ale for strength and courage, we listen to a seated gang of local fruit farmers, who are discussing the dire state of the local and national fruit industry.
“Well, it beggars my belief, and i just don’t understand why an apple still sells for tenpence. I mean, it’s good food, it’s local, it;s healthy and filling, and yet there’s mars-bars selling for 50, 60 pence, and supermarkets doing a bag of ten apples for a pound. What is that all about? When did apples become so undervalued”
The others all hummed and sighed in regretful agreement at this state of affairs, and ordered more food and drink. We suspect that although they are not capitalizing fully on the mass-markets to which they are exposed, they are doing rather well. Acreage was discussed in its hundreds.
But there is a good point being made. Why are apples treated like they just grow on trees? Why are they judged to be worth so much less than a lethal concoction of packaged sugars?
Perhaps the answer lies with the supermarkets. Perhaps it is with the free-market, or the minimum wage.
Having worked on fruit farms, we have all seen the shocking wastage of fruit each year, and how the mis-shapenm or slightly rough skinned apples are left on the trees. The apples that are too big, and those that are too small, are also left alone. “It’s the size of the machine’s cutters” we were told.
Our farm experience also taught us how the buyer has all the power, and if they decide to pay half the rate, on the basis of one man’s judgement of quality (“oh, they’re just not quite right”) then the farmer recieves for his crop one third of the premium rate.
It’s a tricky business. We don’t want New Zealand apples, as that makes no sense at all, when so many of our own garden are unpicked.
And yet no-one is willing to pay the farmers the same profits they pay Nestle.
What is to be done?