In 2010 Wapke Feenstra explored the Limburg landscape by following the movements of land-based products.
31 AUGUST – BORGLOON – APPLES GO TO AUCTION
Four auction crates filled with Delbard Estival apples have been stacked on the trailer. The jeep can just about pull it. `When there are more crates I take the tractor`, says Koen Martens. This year’s harvest was about ten days later than in other years. The weather was first too cold, then too dry – that’s the reason. But the apples still look good. Nice blush. Koen carefully negotiates the bends in the road on the way to the auction. Too much movement can cause bruising – and bruised apples never pass the inspection for table apples. At the most, they’re used for juice or syrup. Malcosort fruit sorters are in one of the halls at the rear of the auction house. That’s where the crates are lifted from the trailer. ‘These apples will be first in the queue tomorrow’, says the team leader.
1 SEPTEMBER – BORGLOON – SORTING AND PACKING
Towards eight o’clock the sorters arrive in their blue dustcoats. All the women and two of the men will be sorting the Delbard Estival apples. One of the women repeats in Polish everything that the team leader says. She draws attention first to the mistakes of the day before and shows them misshapen pears. Then all attention turns to the apples. The quality is checked and they are placed in three sizes on the sorting belt. Inspection with the naked eye is even tougher. The rejects end up in a large open trough. The foul-smelling compost container stays closed. At ten-thirty, after the coffee break, the last crate goes into the sorting machine. Crates of packed apples wait on pallets to be fork-lifted. These summer apples are being auctioned today because they need to be eaten within a fortnight.
4 SEPTEMBER – BORGLOON – APPLE-PICKING
The trees are so laden with Belgica apples that the branches bend over. The apples are picked by seasonal workers. Koen Martens speaks French and English, because the men come from all over. They work very carefully. Most of them stand on small aluminium household steps. The trees aren’t that tall. There is a fruit harvester for reaching the top branches. The drone of a diesel engine emanates from beneath. `Anyone can do this work, but not everyone wants to’, says Koen. And these fruit-pickers can’t be colour-blind, because only the really red apples are wanted. Another round is planned for next week. `Yes, it’s a fine harvest. All we need now is a fine price.`