Valentin Bologna had to drag himself out of bed early this morning. The night was short, just like the nights before – there was a frost alarm! When the temperature drops below freezing in spring, the farmers try to protect the delicate apple blossoms with anti-frost candles or anti-frost irrigation. This sometimes means gritting your teeth and getting up in the middle of the night. “It can be annoying”, says Valentin. But working with and surrounded by nature means there is no such thing as a regular working day: the work is just as variable as the weather and the seasons.
Valentin was born in 1997. In 2019, at the age of just 22, he leased a fruit farm, a decision that required considerable courage, not to mention a good deal of passion. Not many people dare to take this step so early in life, as the lease on an apple orchard is for 15 years and involves a large investment. But Valentin saw it as a unique opportunity: “I simply had to take the chance”, says the now 24-year-old, who grows the Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Fuji, Kanzi and Red Delicious apple varieties in his orchards in Auer.
Originally from Tramin, he today works in Kurtatsch on the orchards belonging to his mother Ingrid. In addition to frost irrigation, there are other tasks at hand there: tying back the branches to ensure better growth and thinning out the blossoms. Valentin is assisted by his 20-year-old brother Benedikt, who is not the only one helping the young farmer: he has learned a lot from his uncles and his father Markus, all of them apple growers. He has also witnessed errors that he wanted to avoid.
“You think you can do it all better, but once you are running a farm yourself, you quickly realise that it’s not that easy”, he says with a laugh. Valentin will only see at harvest time whether everything has worked out as it should: this is the confirmation of what has gone well or the driving force for everything that could be done better. “If the apples are good, I am really satisfied. If on the other hand they are too small, then I know that I’ll have to do something differently next year.” There is still plenty of work to be done before the harvest in late summer and autumn, however: an apple grower will never be bored!