As Matthias Gamper roams through his apple orchards in Oberplars in the springtime, he cannot resist stopping now and again, taking a flowering branch in his hand and examining it with an expert eye. This is a time of especially intensive work for apple growers, now when it is almost time to begin thinning out the blossoms. How are the flowers? What about frost? This latter was not a problem when he took over the Moarhof farm from his father Josef in 2002. Frost was never an issue here, 600 metres up on the sunny, airy hillsides, while hail was practically unknown. The situation is different today.

There are new challenges that Matthias, born in 1981, now has to contend with as an apple grower. He nevertheless has no wish to do anything else. Had he not previously taken over his parents’ farm, then it would have been his twin brother Joseph, as one thing has always been clear to both: the Moarhof will be run as a farm, and this will continue into the future.

Today Matthias works his steep apple orchards located far above the ancient irrigation channel known as the Algunder Waalweg, at the foot of the Tschigat mountain, together with his parents Josef and Martha. His wife Maria Theresia, who is expecting their first child together in September, also helps out whenever her work as an educational assistant allows.

Matthias loves working with his hands directly on the trees. And he loves nature. He has planted flowers at the edge of his apple orchards and has added several cairns and an “insect hotel” to lend some diversity to the orchard. And, in the midst of it all, almost hidden under an overgrown hill, there is a bunker – a wartime relic – with a huge internal space. He wishes at some point to make something out of this: perhaps tastings in the bunker following a guided tour through his orchards to allow participants to taste juicy Kanzi, sweet Fuji or classic Golden apples. Matthias, however, cannot join in – he suffers from fructose intolerance. When picking the apples, however, he sometimes likes to bite into one. That at least he will not miss out on, he says with a grin. “Although it’s tough to know that I shouldn’t be eating what I grow.”