My name is Emmanuel Maniadakis; (Greek as you may have assessed).
Agriculture and the art of growing was introduced to me at a very young age in the island of Crete, Greece, where my family has been growing, mainly grapes, olives, oranges and figs for generations, thousands of years in fact.
For there are archaeological finds that show us signs of civilization, culture, agriculture, art dating back thousands of years. Having agriculture in my blood I gave up my formal education and background and couldn’t resist the calling within to pursue a career in agriculture.
I chose apples because I love the flavour and there was always some mystical allure for that fruit that intrigued me. It’s known as the forbidden fruit in biblical times and goes back further in to Greek mythology with Hercules pursuing the golden apple; Paris giving the apple to Aphrodite signifying she was the most beautiful and so on…
One problem: the use of carcinogenic, harmful and damaging products…
The only issue I had with growing apples was all the chemical products that had to be applied in order to keep the fruit clean and attractive looking. That’s what the market called for.
Using carcinogenic and environmentally destructive products to obtain superficial beauty
did not sit well with me. In fact, applying those products made me ill.
It made my home, my backyard where my children play a hazardous area that could not be re-entered 72-96 or whatever hours of delay that the product label told us the allowable re-entry time lapse was. Being totally frustrated I could not accept the fact that I was living in a literal paradise and by my own hand I was poisoning myself and my immediate surroundings. Sadly, I was told that if I wanted to have marketable fruit in Quebec I had no choice but to use these products for control of the fungal disease commonly known as ‘Scab’ who was an impossibility without them (due to the vast amount of rainfall we get). Also, there was a major insect pest, Plum Curculio, which only synthetically produced chemical poisons could control.
I was told that many with much more experience than me had tried and failed and that I would be taking on an impossible task. Well, that did not sound right to me. How did they control insects and fungi prior to the industrial age, hundreds, or even thousands of years ago? Insects existed then and so did fungi yet we’re told that throughout time Kings, Gods and common men all enjoyed wine and fruits. There were no laboratories that produced chemically synthetic made fungicides and poisons.
Studies showed that growing apples in the North East including New York, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Michigan, Quebec and Ontario included of course, without the use of synthetically made pesticides was in fact considered to be an impossibility. There was too much rain so scab was the major fungal issue and there was Plum Curculio, the major insect issue. Both of these problems according to experts and researchers had to be addressed with synthetically made fungicides and synthetically made poisons.
I had to find a solution
For me, unfortunately for health reasons , to continue the use of these products was not an option. So I had no choice but to take on this impossible and “destined to fail challenge”.
After years of research trial and error and taking a huge financial risk I’ve met the challenge and defeated it.
Sulphur and Copper are natural elements that have been on this earth since the beginning of mankind. Copper has natural fungicidal properties and that is probably why the pipes in your house carrying the water you drink are made of copper.
I like to use natural pheromones that trick or fool male and female sexual activity amongst insects not allowing them to come together and reproduce at the appropriate time rather than trying to kill the insect by using a harmful poison.
I use Kaolin clay, a natural mud that is actually totally harmless to mammals, and is nothing more than just an irritant to insects.
It literally scars and tears their feet when they attempt to walk in it making their visit to my orchard a very unpleasant one and forcing them to leave.
I ask you, doesn’t that make more sense than just allowing an infestation of insects to build up and then going out and applying a poison to kill them which is also harmful to mankind and the environment. Why does the industry do that? Well, convenience is probably the biggest reason. Organic growing is a lot more work physically and mentally for you have to assess and prevent a situation before it happens.
Let me give you a small example: If I apply herbicide to control weeds in my orchard, I’m looking at approximately 4-6 hours. To address the same issue organically the weeds have to be physically or mechanically removed and we’re looking at approximately 60 hours.
Apple thinning is another issue. We can apply a chemical thinner in about two hours for examples, organically we have to physically remove the excess apples with a crew of six for about two weeks. Just about every issue becomes longer and harder to deal with when using organically allowed practices only. A huge difference true but the end result is we create beautiful fruit that looks and tastes much better than conventional.
The vitamin and mineral count is higher, the flavour of the fruit that has progressed naturally throughout its stages is second to none and we do this with trees that have not been altered to be resistant to scab but with all the common varieties you grew up with, MAC, CORTLAND, VISTABELLA to name a few (check products for fruit list) including some of the newer varieties; SUNRISE, GALA, JONAGOLD and SMOOTHIE.
I’ve incorporated elements and techniques that are thousands of years old and have fused them with second millennium technology that bring us a perfect harmony and balance to our growing practices.
I personally hand prune every tree in my orchard and I have almost 9,000 of them. Growing is my passion and way of life. Thank you for taking the time to read about us.