Mission, Priorities and the story of the orchards
In our business relationships, we stand behind these core principles:
Our organic plums, pears and walnuts are ideal ingredients for a variety of bio-certified end products that require raw materials to be certified organic. We are happy to work with food and beverage manufacturers, restaurants, bars, bakeries, health food stores and organic markets.
Our organic fruits and nuts are suitable for use in various confectionery or bakery products.
All kind of drinks made of organic fruits - juices, smoothies, ciders etc., served fresh or bottled.
Variety of packaged organic foods like chocolates, sweets, jams, spreads, tahinis, nut flour etc.
AND HERE IS MORE ABOUT
The story of the orchards
How our friendship grew into serious organic farming
Alvanovo Organic Orchards is the name of the union between three farmers and friends. Friends in life, friends “in the fields”, in our case – in the gardens. Each of us is individually registered as an agricultural manufacturer but we work on everything together, as an association. This includes terrain work, sales, establishment of partnerships and dealing with end consumers.
As cliche as it may sound, it all started as a joke. In the distant year of 2009 we got the opportunity to buy cheap land in the village of Alvanovo, Targovishte region. We bought 25 decares, which we planted with walnuts. We were joking about buying a place to hide from our wives when we become grumpy old men.
Then they began to open euro programs in Bulgaria and the three of us tried to meet the conditions. Two became “young farmers” and one who was more than 40 years old remained for “semi-subsistence farms”. This was when we decided that if we were going to be farmers, then we’d better go organic and produce only the best. We have always been perfectionists. So, we began the preparation of our orchards for transition to organic farming.
Meanwhile, the land price went up, it rose more than three times. Above the village there was a block of abandoned vineyards. We bought 11 decares, cleaned everything and planted 9 of them with Stanley plums, and on two decares we managed to accommodate 267 saplings of pears by the so-called intensive planting method. The pears we divided in two rows, by variety – the French “Passe-Crassane” and the classic “Vicar of Wakefield“. The new orchards immediately started the transition to organic farming. But what made us really happy was that we turned a desolate and overgrown piece of land into something that pleased the eye and filled one’s heart when looking at it. There is no point in saying that agriculture and the organic cause have already been firmly under our skins.
And to grow an orchard by biological means without treating weeds and pests with conventional poisonous substances is easier said than done. There was a lot to read, experiment and perfect in our methods. We were still in the process of transition to organic, and with subsidies from the Agriculture Fund we managed to somehow make both ends meet.
We realized that one of our greatest problems was the proximity of our fruit trees to other plots of land that kept sending weeds and all sorts of creeping and flying enemies our way. It was better to extend the organic production area and move the orchards away from the neighboring plots in the simplest possible way. We had to buy them and turn them into organic orchards, too. We started buying the old vines from the villagers and what we bought in the summer, in the autumn turned into a plum garden. Thank God, our people were quite understanding, and although the price grew over time, we were happy.
Now we have 90 decares of “Stanley” plums. These are more than 4600 trees of different ages. Some are in full fruit-bearing age, others have another year or two until they reach it. We also have 100 decares planted with walnuts, but we will have to wait another 3-4 years until we see “industrial” yield. The walnuts are of 5 different varieties. We started with “Izvor 10” and the next fields we planted with Dryanovo and Sheynovo cultivars. The last two walnut varieties we planted are the american Chandler and Pedro.
In 2014, we achieved our main goal – we met all the conditions and requirements and earned the “certified organic” certificate. We have officially become organic farmers. We are very proud of it but we also realize that it’s a big responsibility. We follow the organic farming rules in good faith, and every year we undergo inspections from the Lakon International Institute to renew our certificate. And we know that when we offer our organic fruits and walnuts to our clients, we offer clean and healthy produce that we have no doubt in giving to our own kids to consume.
In the orchards, we apply different methods of bio-protection and maintenance of healthy and fertile soil. We have our ladybugs, we make our own pest control solutions out of entirely natural ingredients like chili peppers and garlic, we manually remove pests and many more.
We continue to improve our techniques and look for new ones to enrich our arsenal. Every year we learn more and more – experience is a priceless teacher. We have gone through many challenges that have taught us that we can not fully control nature, but we should never despair. Like in 2017, when we’ve been hit by a heavy hailstorm. At first it seemed that everything was lost for the season but we ended up with an amazing yield of plums, which, albeit less than the expected quantity, exceeded all norms for the variety in size and quality.
We also gradually invest in appropriate equipment. Our tractors are two, old and cheap. We will have to replace them one day, so we try to take the best from them. We’re more picky when it goes to the attachments. We have a sprayer, a mower with a diverting section, a milling cutter. We also have a plow and a disc harrow, but we don’t use them at the moment as we have been running an agro-ecological anti-erosion program for the past 3 years, and we keep inter-row spaces grassed. Our latest gains are the machines for calibration and walnut breaking.
We have our program that, without being endlessly ambitious, we follow strictly step by step. At its center are ecological farming methods and the establishment of appropriate business partnerships. The latter includes both the provision of bio-certified raw materials to final producers and the development of joint products. We’re working on a public picnic area so we can meet more people who come to the orchards to pick up their own organic fruits or walnuts. It’s great when families come with children, and we are very happy to see the little people discovering and enjoying nature. For 2018, we have planned to build a new facility for refrigerators and a dryer for plums and walnuts.
This, not very briefly, was the story of our organic orchards so far. We have great plans for their development and we work hard to fulfill them, strictly following the organic farming standards and regulations. And we hope for the favour of Mother Nature to move forward.