It is in the fruit cooperatives that apple grower Thomas Oberhofer of Laces/Latsch in the Venosta/Vinschgau valley sees the road to success. The cooperative system is especially a blessing for small farms.
Molerhof farm is in the center of Laces. His father was a pioneer of Venosta valley fruit growing and changed from dairy farming to apple farming in 1965. Most of the Venosta farmers followed his example in the seventies and the cooperatives grew. Today, Thomas grows apples on 5 hectares of property.
In the Venosta valley there are seven fruit cooperatives, jointly marketing as the VI.P. organization. “On the demand side, things have been concentrating into a few large trade chains for a while, then it was a logical step to organize ourselves also on the supply side,” explains Oberhofer. The cooperatives in South Tyrol/Südtirol arose out of necessity. The farms were just too small to store and market their own fruit.
Today, Thomas Oberhofer sees himself at Molerhof farm “at about half-time”. At about 60, he would like to turn the farm over to his son. Alexander is presently attending the agricultural technical school and is definitely showing interest in sometime becoming the farmer at Molerhof farm. Until then, the apple farmer is visibly happy to be able to keep the scepter in his own hand.