Andrew Jamieson: From financier to fruit farmer
- Credit: Danielle Booden
“This is an area that is incredibly close to my heart and the orchards are an enormous part of that,” says Andrew Jamieson.
“I’m very lucky, I was actually born in the house that I live in now. I was born in the bedroom I sleep in now,” he says.
Home is Drove Orchards, established at Thornham on the north Norfolk coast by his father, Major David Jamieson in 1952.
Maj. Jamieson was awarded the army’s highest honour, the Victoria Cross, for his heroism during the Normandy landings and returned home pledging to work with nature.
Today, with Andrew continuing the work his keen conservationist father began, Drove Orchards is an abundant heritage orchard, growing 165 varieties of apples and pears, including 120 types native to East Anglia.
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Andrew is also involved with a project to restore a stretch of coastal grazing marsh and boost its biodiversity and is an advocate of sustainable tourism – encouraging visitors to enjoy Norfolk’s natural beauty and wildlife, but in a mindful and responsible way.
“There was a lot of red ink growing up and I didn’t think that I would be able to support a living here, and so I went away to London and then to Asia and had a different career, as an investment banker. I ran this at weekends through the 80s, 90s and early 2000s,” explains Andrew.
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When he returned to focus on growing the orchard full-time, it was important to Andrew to use the traditional cultivation methods which had been handed down through the generations.
“There was a certain way in which my father planted apples and we grew apples, which is now rather old fashioned,” he explains.
“I don’t want to get too technical, but the size of an apple tree is determined by the type of rootstock you grow the apple tree on and in the old days, they were lovely big apple trees, the sort of trees you might think about.
“Nowadays if you were to plant an orchard you’d plant a thing that would end up looking like a sort of walking stick with apples sticking on it and I have no love of that. So the apple trees that you have in the orchard are quite old fashioned really and we grow them in an old fashioned way.
“I do that because it’s what I understand an orchard to be, and it’s also, of course, what people understand an orchard to be and I am really keen that people should not just pick apples, but also walk around the orchards.
“There’s so much to see here, there’s so much biodiversity, there’s so much going on here and I would much prefer visitors to walk around an orchard that they would get pleasure from being in, as it were.”
Read the rest of this interview in your Weekend magazine, out this Saturday.
Other highlights include:
Your 32-page pullout TV guide and puzzles
Heritage: Norfolk's naval efforts in the Napoleonic War
Your Norfolk: How you can help save the counties rare apple trees
Food & Drink: Inside the new restaurant and cafe at St Peter's Brewery, and Richard Bainbridge's healthy beetroot soup recipe
Travel: A staycation in Holt