Tell us about your growing philosophy
I like to call my growing philosophy: Minimum Intervention approach... This is in part due to the fact that I am only part time at the orchard.
One important issue is that most of my apples are used for cider, hence their appearance is not relevant and their quality is only about the inside. I try to grow smaller rather than larger apples as they are more flavorful. Also a bit of scab may even improve the cider by concentrating the sugars and flavors.
On the other hand, I do prune the trees and maintain a good orchard health.
Tell us about your place on Earth.
This small orchard (1 acre) is in the County of Charlevoix, Québec, Canada. This is a hardiness zone 4 with long and cold winters, a lot of snow, and relatively cool and short summers. The combined effect of all this is that the snow melts late in spring, which delays bloom (typically last week of May). Hence we never have spring frost problems during bloom here! Another effect of this climate is that very late ripening varieties will not ripen.
What draws you to growing fruit?
Originally, ski and solar energy are the reasons I bought this piece of land in 1982... And I fell in love with the old standard trees that were there (see the picture of a row of these trees). These were mostly Cortland trees at the time and I have topgrafted some of them since. A few years later I started to make cider, and this has remained an ongoing passion.
What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?
Plant more trees earlier on, so they would be big now! Plant less pears, as there are too many of them when they ripen and they don't keep as well as apples. Plant less early apples and more late and cider apple varieties.
How do you go about marketing the good fruit?
I make cider with the better part of the production. No marketing, the whole production of apples and cider is for family and friends.