Josef Meraner is happy because he has found something he’s been wanting to find for a long time. After 20 years, the apple farmer converted his farm in Eppan/Appiano to an organic one in 2008. “I just didn’t feel comfortable with integrated cultivation any longer and wanted to change.” Embracing this change, Josef – who took over his father’s farm at the age of 20 – found his way. And found greater satisfaction, too.
Since switching to organic farming, the Eppan resident has been the spokesman for Bioland fruit growers. He is involved in associations and helps other farmers on their way. Although he is convinced by organic cultivation, he also accepts other views. Cooperation amongst fruit growers is particularly important to him: “Whether organic or integrated – everyone tries their best and nobody is better or worse than the next person.”
Together with his wife and son, Josef cultivates his apple orchards as naturally as possible. There are some 200-year-old mulberry trees, inhabited by woodpeckers, on the edge of one particular orchard. Josef planted a total of 1000 hedge plants, sows flowering seeds in the orchards every year and lets the grass grow between the rows until shortly before harvest. He wants to create habitats for insects and small animals.
Thanks to the many organic measures, Josef enjoys walking through his orchards every day. He knows what he does makes sense. “Many people ask me what economic benefits these flower strips bring. I can’t tell you exactly, but if it’s fun, then that already tells you a lot,” says the apple farmer from Eppan laughing.