Tell us about your growing philosophy
I am committed to growing healthy fruit here at Old Frog Pond Farm. Much of my approach comes from what I've learned at the yearly Stump Sprouts gathering in the Berkshires. We encourage our trees' immune system with nutrient sprays. Our sulfur applications for scab are down to three a season. We protect the fruitlets from plum curculio with Surround. Soil health is always on the radar. My favorite practice is to watch and wait. Over the years I've learned patience. A few caterpillars are not necessarily an epidemic; Japanese beetles can be picked off of young trees by hand. I'm after the least intervention, a peaceful dwelling.
Tell us about your place on Earth.
We have 300 plus trees on a variety of semi-dwarf rootstocks. The orchard is in a continuous process of replanting with new trees interspersed bewteen older trees. The orchard is surrounded by a forest buffer and wetlands on three sides. Deer roam freely (unfortunately); woodchucks tunnel; geese add nutrients; hawks and crows watch from snags; comfrey, mint, bergamot, daffodils, mushrooms, and weeds grow between the trees.
What draws you to growing fruit?
The orchard was here, abandoned for many years, when I moved into this old farmhouse. Sumac, brambles, and poison ivy grew bewteen the rows. Those first few years the orchard produced no fruit. I was determined to bring the trees back to health and to do it organically.
innovation most rocks your boat?
What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?
Put up 8' deer fencing!
How do you go about marketing the good fruit?
We are the only certifed organic pick your own orchard in our area. People want to pick organic apples. We are sold out before Columbus Day every year. We also sell to small natural markets.