Fruits with focus on the nature and environment!
We in the Daniels family have 2 farms on the sunny Aland Islands, that have the most hours of sunshine in the Nordic countries and a climate with long warm autumns that are ideal for fruit growing.
On our farm in Västanträsk, a family farm passed on since 1724 (11 generations) we grow about 15ha of apples and 2,5ha pears. Our newest farm in Åttböle with 20ha of apples is situated about 10 km from our main village.
In Västanträsk we have our sorting / packing house (see the movie under the "Fruit growing” section), our largest regular cold storage, 4 rooms of ULO (Ultra Low Oxygen) storage, staff quarters etc. Our total cold storage capacity is about 800 tons, including 350 tons that´s in the ULO rooms.
In Västanträsk we have the past few years renewed a lot by taking away the old varieties and started planting newer varieties that have better taste and look, and do not need as much spraying.
The farm in Åttböle, bought in 1987 we began planting apples in 2010 and plantings was completed in 2013. It was made for organic production from scratch, which means apple varieties that are made to
maintain good quality with less spraying. During the first three years we grew whole Åttböle organically, but unfortunately the market in Finland was not yet mature for the amount of organic apples we produced.
So now we grow Åttböle conventional, according to IP (Integrated Production) standard, as well as our other fruits. Which means that you only spray when there is a great need for it. But if the market changes and demand increases the coming years, we are happy to change back to organic again!
Besides growing apples and pears, we also rent cottages, have forestry and beekeeping.
The years we grew organically we learned that the best pest control is to have the nature on our side, in the form of beneficial insects, birds etc. that can help keep pests away without any chemicals! Therefore, we have put up hundreds of birdhouses to attract the small birds like tomtits, chaffinches, flycatchers, sparrows etc. because they eat large amounts of pests every year (larvae etc.). Other beneficial insects are ladybugs and especially earwigs who eat aphids, psyllids, eggs and small larvae of butterflies and mites, which make up most of the damage on the fruits. For them to be attracted to the orchard and stay there, we have straw bales, hundreds of small boxes (see picture) and thousands of bags with straw inside the orchards used for housing for the beneficial insects.
Besides taking care of beneficial animals, we also use pheromone confusion against codling moth and also many other moths so we can reduce the damage in an organic way. So we can avoid spraying with chemicals to keep them under control! This means in practical terms that you hang up about 1000pcs of cords per hectare, soaked in the smell from codling moth females. Which means that the entire orchard smell female and males become so confused that they can´t find a female to mate! It is completely non-toxic and approved in organic farming.
Obviously, we have drip irrigation everywhere, that normally lies on the ground. But in most of our orchards they are tied up a little bit above the ground. In that way we can work the soil under the trees with a special machine to the tractor which we had when we grew organically, to reduce the chemical weed control!
Fruitgrower and beekeeper Ben-Erik Daniels has placed out "canisters" as housing for earwigs and other beneficial insects that hunts aphids and other vermin during the the night in fruitorchards. Also wild bees, so called solitary bees like it in these straw filled "hives"