Simon Ruatti’s enthusiasm for organic farming did not come from South Tyrol, but from New Zealand. When he went WWOOFing. The so-called WWOOFs (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) are a network of organic farms where travellers can live and work. “I’ve been convinced of this production method since my trip,” says Simon.
He’d always wanted to be a farmer. Building on his experience abroad, he leases orchards in Plaus with up to five-metre-high “Morgenduft” apple trees dating from 1960. Giants with large crowns and many naturally occurring nesting places for birds.
It was out of the question for Simon to clear them. The trees still yield a good harvest and create little work. Except when it comes to the harvest, which requires ladders and good climbing skills. But this is exactly what the organic farmer enjoys most.
Simon enjoys working and immersing himself in this near-natural habitat: Following how the apple trees develop throughout the seasons and ensuring that the plants and soil remain healthy.
“Given that I leave a lot of habitat for various organisms and useful insects, I have little need to intervene to regulate the number of pests. Over time, a natural equilibrium emerges and nature almost seems to adjust itself.” Working organically is particularly important to the young farmer. He tries to follow his gut instincts every step of the way.
He lets the grass between the apple trees grow tall. If he plants new varieties, then he only chooses resistant ones, and if he has to clear old trees, he will grow another crop for a year, such as potatoes. Or he sows buckwheat, herbs or sunflowers.
In 2019, he started working biodynamically. Simon wants to make his apple trees even more resistant with the help of biodynamic preparations, tea extracts and compost, and further promote the symbiosis of living soil, micro-organisms and plants.