The harvests from the 50-year-old trees are just a small part of Denis Angelino’s Stanthorpe orchard where he also grows old varieties of nectarines, peaches and plums. The Granelly Orchard has been a family business since 1946 when Denis’ dad bought the bare land and started to plant it with apple trees in the fifties and sixties. Some of those trees are still producing top-notch fruit today – such as the Starkinson-Delicious apples.
Since Denis took over the orchard his focus has been on reducing chemical dependence through high nutrient farming techniques. Denis is proud to be able to say that he has used no chemical fertilisers on his land in the last twenty years, and that he is able to rely on natural methods to control pests like coddling moth and red spider. He has found that over the years this change to chemical spray-free farming has led to the orchard producing better quality apples. He has also had another amazing result – with such healthy and nutrient dense fruit, Denis has no fruit fly at all to contend with. Admiting that farming is tough work and that at times it can be a challenge to stick with it, Denis reckons that the thing that keeps him going is all the lovely people he has met along the way. Denis describes himself as an old fashioned farmer. ‘I have learnt that farming is not all about the dollar value. Chain stores offer farmers a lower price, and also demand that farmers wax their fruit. Some of the fruit that you see in conventional markets shouldn’t be for sale at all.’ Denis takes the opposite approach to farming, and reckons that if you put in the work and try to grow a good product you get good results. He is proud to be where he is at today with his farm and feels that the hard work at pruning time, and the time he spends hand-spraying his trees and soil with natural nutrients from kelp, molasses and other sources all pays off when he gets to see people enjoying a great piece of fruit at the end of the day.