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Leith House Orchards at Burnham Overy lines up new ideas for next season

Two brothers who stepped in to continue a family-run fruit orchards business at Burnham Overy a year ago have new ideas lined up to further develop the enterprise.

Max and Bruin Maufe, took over the orchards previously known as Plumbe and Maufe, which had been established by their great uncle Garry Maufe in the 1970s. They had been run by Garry's daughter Nina Plumbe, for the past 25 years.

When Nina decided to call it a day, Max and Bruin chose to give up their city jobs in London and preserve the family business.

Max Maufe harvesting fruit in the orchards (42367397)
Max Maufe harvesting fruit in the orchards (42367397)

Said Max: "It seemed a shame to lose our family legacy, so we decided to keep up the tradition. Our granddad and his brother, Garry, both had neighbouring farms, and now once again two more brothers from the third generation of the same family are farming the land."

Max and Bruin, tenants on the Holkham Estate like their father, Teddy, have already put their own stamp on the business by rebranding it, so it now operates under the name of Leith House Orchards.

There are almost three thousand trees in the orchard with over 40 varieties of plums, gages, damsons and apples, many of which are sold from a popular stall at Burnham Overy.

"In order to survive as tenant farmers we need to diversify and the orchards are another opportunity to be more Brexit-proof, as much of our produce is sold locally. About 60 to 70 per cent of our produce is sold on the stall direct to the customer and the rest is sold wholesale to local delis," said Max.

"Not only do we sell fresh fruit, but we also sell products such as jams, chutneys, juices and vinegar. One of our three main aims when taking the business forward is to concentrate on providing more of these kind of products.

"We also want to enhance the experience for visitors so they can come and pick their own and enjoy this beautiful corner of Norfolk, although we don't intend to make it a large commercial orchard.

"Thirdly, we have applied for an alcohol licence so there will be an opportunity for people to visit the stall and drink cider made from the orchard's fruit."

He said one of the changes they have made this year is to allow the grass to grow in the orchard which encourages more wildlife. Next year they hope to extend the season, usually from mid-July to mid-September, but that depends on the weather.

"Like any farming job, we are at the mercy of the weather which is unpredictable. This year's hot spring meant we had a good yield of plums, which came early and therefore ended early," he said.

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