Thomas Knoll is a multi-talented all-rounder. At the age of 30, he went into local government and he became mayor at 32. He was in office for almost 18 years. Nowadays, he is Vice-Mayor, Chair of IDM’s Presidential College and an apple farmer.
His grandfather was a farmer and even as a little boy, he helped with the harvest. Later Thomas attended a classic Franciscan grammar school. Instead of studying afterwards, like most of his classmates, the man from Tisens/Tesimo took a different path. Seeking a career change, he took over his grandfather’s fruit growing business in 1981. “My schoolmates are now all doctors and heads of departments. But I’ve just stayed a farmer,” says Thomas laughing.
However, a traditional farmer’s career was not enough for this committed man. Thomas likes working in nature combined with his other activities. He does not run a traditional farm, i.e. he doesn’t have a farm, but rather an open establishment. His apple orchards are in Nals/Nalles.
Everyday life also differs from that of most apple farmers. Between community work, daily appointments and his family, there is little time for working in the orchards. He is therefore supported by seasonal workers and his son Tobias has already joined the operation.
Thomas and Tobias are auction suppliers. They are among the 10% of all fruit growing companies in South Tyrol that supply their apples only to the fresh market. Apples are not only harvested in large crates, but also in small wooden ones. Thomas and Tobias have to pay special attention to the appearance and quality of the apples. Choosing the right varieties also plays an important role. “Summer varieties are ideal,” says Thomas, who has never regretted his decision to supply a niche market. “You shouldn’t do what everybody’s doing at a certain point of time.”