THROUGHOUT her career as a radiologist, Jenny Connor had an ambition far removed from her busy indoor life in the health service…she wanted to own an apple orchard.

Now, having retired from the NHS in March, Jenny’s dream has not only come true, but it has turned into an increasingly successful business.

Dalton Moor Farm is a 24-acre small-holding at Dalton le Dale, near Seaham, in County Durham, where every fruit and vegetable is planted, nurtured and harvested by hand.

Jenny had lived in the farmhouse for 27 years but only bought the surrounding land in 2011 and planted the orchard in 2013. 

The fruits of her labours since then have been considerable. Last year, the business grew three tons of apples, as well as collected more from an orchard in Staindrop. The stock was further supplemented with community apples that would otherwise have gone to waste in Lanchester, Seaham, and Sunderland.

“I’ve always had a drive to be as self-sufficient as possible and support the environment,” says Jenny, who lives with husband Tom.

As well as developing the orchard, she’s planted miles of hedgerows, and now harvests a range of soft fruits including plums, apricots, pears, berries and currants, as well as vegetables.

“Last year the weather was very unpredictable – it was a good year for fruit but a terrible year for veg,” she says. 

Dalton Moor Farm is an accredited Taste Durham business as well as being part of the Durham Food Hub, which supports local food producers.

Jenny is a familiar face at food events such as the Vegan Food Fair at Durham Masonic Hall on Easter Sunday, and she will be one of more than 100 traders taking part in the Seaham Food Festival on June 8 and 9.

“The festival at Seaham is a welcome addition to the calendar and a fabulous opportunity for local producers,” she says.

Dalton Moor Farm is also supplying an increasing number of outlets, including frozen apples and apple juice to the Lickety Split ice cream parlour at Seaham; apple juice, preserves and cider vinegar to Kaffeehaus Amadeus at Lanchester; and preserves to the Rise Artisan Bakehouse at Crook.

Jenny’s signature preserve is a vegan honey substitute made from berries and flowers, and she has just started cider production. Planned developments include a farm shop and café, holiday accommodation, wild harvesting walks and developing links with schools.

“It’s hard work but I’m living my dream,” says Jenny.