Notts apple farmer says Brexit will benefit British fruit businesses

The Starkey farm was established over 100 years ago and is the only Bramley orchard originating from the original Bramley apple tree.

A Nottinghamshire apple farmer says Brexit will benefit businesses by encouraging people to buy British fruit again after the single market ‘destroyed’ domestic sales.

Suzannah Starkey, owner of Starkey’s Bramley Apple farm in Southwell, says supermarkets in general currently sell very few English apple varieties – instead importing produce from Europe.

The Starkey farm, which was established more than 100 years ago by Suzannah’s great grandfather John R. Starkey, is the only commercial Bramley orchard replicating the original Bramley apple tree.

Ms Starkey says the shift by big chains “destroyed the English apple market”.

“Most of the apples you buy now taste bland compared to English apples – which have a very special flavour and more character,” she said.

“We hope Brexit negotiations will have some power over the British market and persuade supermarkets to give English apples a chance, and only import foreign apples when British apples are out of season.”

The Bramley Apple tree grew out of a pip planted in Southwell in 1809, and is still alive today – although it has contracted an incurable disease known as honey fungus, meaning it will soon die.

However, with the help of Professor Ted Cocking, a bioscientist from the University of Nottingham, the tree has been cloned and there are now more than 2,000 at the company’s orchard’s at Norwood Park, near Southwell.

Southwell still hosts an annual Bramley festival and has a dedicated stained glass window in the town’s Minster.

The Bramley tree is recognised as one of 50 Great British Trees by the Tree Council and there are thought to be more than 300 Bramley growers in England.

But despite an estimated 83,000 tonnes of the tree’s apples being grown in the UK each year, Suzannah says competition from Europe means many British supermarkets don’t want to sell British apples.

Suzannah Starkey (left), owner of Starkey’s Bramley Apple farm in Southwell, hopes that supermarkets will sell more English apple varieties following Brexit.

Suzannah said: “English apples have a very special taste and benefit from the temperature of our climate.

“Original Bramley apples did not need any added sugar and we copy that – we allow them to mature on the tree to raise their natural sugar.

“Although apples have a naturally long life, buying varieties grown in the same country means they have travelled less distance so will not have been artificially freshened.

“Buying homegrown will also support local businesses – and as a small grower in Nottinghamshire we need as much help as we can get.”

However Politics lecturer Dr Matthew Mokhefi-Ashton recently told Notts Tonight that there will be ‘a lot of market volatility’ until companies know whether the UK will have access to markets-which could affect the economy.

He said: “When you ask people if they voted to leave the single market and the customs union, an awful lot of people will ask what they are.

“Big companies might be reluctant to invest and they might say we will leave off until we know exactly what we’re investing in.”

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