Tell us about your growing philosophy
Mostly I enjoy pruning in spring and summer, and spreading mulch around each tree, often putting composted manure and imported minerals under the mulch. This has turned a barren field that had been overgrazed by sheep and was only growing hawkweed and wild strawberries into a grassy hillside with bountiful beautiful trees. I've never sprayed anything on the orchard, yet will begin feeding them this year, as per Holistic Orcharding. The pears don't seem to get bothered by insects, only sand pockets of some sort. I'm basically into simple and as little interference as possible. We also like to graft on the wild apples which sprouted up from the bears, people, and birds over the years. Maybe 50+ of them scattered around.
Tell us about your place on Earth.
We live on Morninglory Farm, founded 44 years ago as a land based community farm. 100 acres in Zone 3b of hills and rocks and forest... and some fruit trees. There were a dozen apple trees about 20 - 50+ years old when we arrived. In 1980 a test winter took out a few excellent trees, so I started looking for good tasting hardy trees. Starting in '86 we planted 18 hardy pear trees with Ussuriensis root stock and grafted on 13 varieties, all bearing now. Also we've planted apples, plums, cherries, cherry plums, haskaps, Sea Berries from Russia, grapes, saskatoons, elder berries, butternuts, black walnuts, hazelberts, bur oaks, currants and gooseberries. There are also lots of wild rasberries, wild apples, wild Canada plums and juneberries
What draws you to growing fruit?
I love fresh fruit... I began pruning in '70 and this close relationship with these living beings has encouraged me to open to more such relationships. This love I seem to have "passed" along to my son, Ethan, who now shares the orchard and its work with me. The overabundance of pears two years ago (over 200 gallons of pear juice) encouraged us to really start making perry and hard apple cider. Sadly Ontario does not allow sales of this unless one is much "bigger" producton than we are. It tastes great tho'.....
innovation most rocks your boat?
You've put in a whole lot more consideration into this topic than I have. I find no discord with anything said.
What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?
A bit more space between the trees. 25 years later some of them are needed pruning to keep them from touching. If I had time and energy I'd have cleared the land better to begin with... which would have likely helped production begin sooner. Also, I would not have planted wild Canada plum as the plum rootstock. It suckers prolifically.
How do you go about marketing the good fruit?
Ottawa Valley Food Co-op, local farmers market, friends, local food events. We also make our juice press available to others, and often sell some of our produce to our pressing customers.