This project looked at the feasibility of growing organic fruit in the Conwy valley. This Conwy Agri Innovation project tested different varieties to establish which were the most suitable for the local climate and soil conditions.
Dafydd and Beryl Roberts attended an agri innovation workshop organised by Annog to discuss various diversification opportunities. They identified an opportunity to produce organic soft fruit and were provided with specialist support to select varieties and trial new planting techniques
They then planted hundreds of blueberry plants of four different varieties, alongside different varieties of gooseberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and rhubarb.
The technique trialled was very labour intensive and involved layering high ridges of soil with organic manure and sawdust, with an irrigation system on both sides of the plants. This method provides the very best start for the fruit encourages good crops in year two and reduces competition from weeds.
The 'Bluecrop' variety proved to be the most productive, with 'Chandler', 'Duke' and 'Elliot' doing less well.
Dafydd explained: 'Being able to trial and test new varieties and methods, with the help of experts in the field, has been invaluable. Our next big challenge is to look at new methods of preserving, processing and packing the fruit.'