‘It all started in the Philippines’ says Lali. ‘We went there on holiday in 2009 and were immediately impressed with the new hybrid fruit that was being grown on a small privately owned farm near Piffal, where we were staying.'
The Pineorange, as the name suggests is a cross between a pineapple and an orange and grows relatively easily in the rich and fertile soils of the Philippines. ‘They are amazingly juicy and taste like a tropical fruit cocktail. We ate them for breakfast every morning for two weeks and before we left we decided to take some seeds back to the UK to germinate at home.'
The seeds then spent nearly 6 months in Customs before being released, as a new classification of fruit had to be registered for them.
Back at the farm in Mere, it has taken the Proofs five years finally to get the results they wanted. ‘It’s horse manure,’ says David, ‘that really makes the difference. Our soil isn’t naturally as fertile as it is back in the Philippines but our trusty Shire horse Theobald Dasher helped us solve the problem.
'We were also helped out by Haxnicks, who gave us some of the bell cloches they make in their factory just down the road from us. These have made a huge difference as they create a micro-climate which the Pineoranges just seem to love. When the sun shines you can almost watch them expanding.'
Their first crop will be ready this Easter and David and Lali hope to start selling them in earnest next April.