Philosophical approval of one's farming practices is indeed a tough nut to crack! What follows is absolutely a work-in-progress: Holistic growers, let your thoughts be known! We have no intention of launching yet another certification process here. On the other hand, giving orchardists a nudge to embrace radiant system health that results in the growing of nutrient-dense fruit on the local level is an honorable achievement. Orchard challenges are many - the work overwhelming at times. What follows are positive guidelines to keep us on track in managing orchards based on minimal off-farm inputs, living soil practices, and integrated ecosystem health.
The term 'organic' as now in the hands of the US Department of Agriculture has been convoluted. National certification standards for organic agriculture do indeed reflect good tenets but there are also dubious rules and outright hedging that miss the mark. One can meet the standards for organic fruit growing and yet be way out of touch with holistic understanding. The true goals of the grassroots organic movement have never changed: healthy food from healthy soil, local farms feeding local folks. Importing an 'organic apple' from thousands of miles away is not environmental awareness in action - burning petroleum to get that piece of fruit to your door is as 'earth allopathic' as organophosphate sprays are in the orchard ecosystem. Which isn't to say we don't make compromises in going about our daily lives.
This network deliberately uses the word 'holistic' to describe health-building orchard practices that bring about wholesome fruit. We recognize that there are extremely well-intentioned growers who may not yet be in an economic position to forego a certain chemical application. These are growers who support the living soil, abate fungal problems with good sanitation practice, minimize the use of fungicides in favor of boosting tree immunity with deep nutrition, abet microorganism allies, and approach insect pest situations with life-cycle understanding and bold biodiversity. Very discerning chemical use may be a one-shot directed at overwhelming curculio pressure, or extended fruit rots due to high humidity in the Southeast, or organized borers lurking behind every tree trunk. And yet we need such folks to provide otherwise nutrient-dense food in the communities where we live. We encourage growers to trial holistic techniques that others have successfully employed and proven. This is a nudging process. We're getting here from there, to paraphrase an old New England adage.
Get involved with your community orchardist, apple lovers: offer your sweat labor on orchard work days, do some word-of-mouth marketing, pay a fair price, share your thanks. The story behind any grower's decisions in this network are understood by other growers and an open book to you as well . . . all you have to do is ask!
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updated 20 June 2020
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20 Jun 2020