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Choosing an Orchard Mentor

Nature insists on teaching lessons every growing season. Getting advice from an experienced orchardist about the challenges at hand can be critical, especially in those early years. Discussing site design and marketing plans before the trees get planted with someone who knows can save untold angst. Keeping this fun is essential.

Organic's  Final Frontier

Tree fruits are challenging to grow. The season from bud break to harvest is long, providing plenty of opportunities for pests and disease to take hold. Answers lie in emphasizing system health orchard-wide, from diverse biology and plant metabolism to the giving trees themselves and the tasty fruit that nourishes our families. 

Our holistic orchard consultants can help accelerate any grower's learning curve.

 

 

 

Mike Biltonen

 

Mike Biltonen

I have spent nearly forty years in agriculture – mostly working with orchards, vineyards, and specialty veg and fruit crops. During my sophomore year at Virginia Tech I took a summer job at a large orchard in central Virginia and never looked back. I graduated in ‘86 with a BS in Horticulture and in ’92 with a Master’s in Pomology from Cornell. Since the beginning, I’ve farmed in Virginia, Minnesota, Vermont, California, and New York. A passion for sustainable agriculture has evolved into a profound dedication to the principles and practices of ecologically-focused, biodynamically-driven farming. Biodynamic farming is, in my estimation, the next logical step in organic farming.

I’ve been a consultant to farmers and orchardists for the last fifteen years while also operating my own biodynamically enlivened orchard and mushroom operation in central New York. I consult with novice and seasoned growers on all aspects of establishing and operating regenerative integrated farms and orchards, and conduct workshops, seminars, webinars, and have a free newsletter for the truly dedicated.

Eliza Greenman

Creating and managing low-input orchards for niche processing outlets has been my focus for over a decade. Along the way, I visited the genetic homeland of many temperate fruits in Central Asia to learn about how the wild fruit forests in Kyrgyzstan had been managed with livestock for centuries to produce meat/milk and fruit/nuts. The idea of having livestock integrated into the orchard design (aka fruit silvopasture) to supply an early and annual source of income was very attractive. HogTree came to be to further develop my own concepts for designing diverse fruit and nut orchards that feed livestock while simultaneously producing high value niche products – like cider and charcuterie – while also having the livestock do much of the work.

My services are offered through my company Fruit and Fodder, be it for consulting in season or orchard/silvopasture/land design and implementation. If interested in learning more, check out this youtube video with Steven Edholm and myself talking about silvopasture, rare genetics, value-added goods and apples . . . of course! Our mutual mission will be to create, plant and graft meaningful tree cropping systems.

 

 

Eliza Greenman

 

 

Michael Phillips

You can literally choose to walk through an entire growing season with the author of The Holistic Orchard and The Apple Grower via weekly chats and emailed reports, always aimed at improving your understanding of what it takes to produce a successful fruit crop. I'm passionate about mentoring growers of any age eager to learn the ins and outs of community orcharding. Somehow we always have a good time! Looking at the scale of a fruit growing operation and discovering innovative market opportunities are a valuable part of this process.

Others wisely desire a site visit before planting trees to best ascertain the lay of the land. Families opting for the home orchard plan benefit from our time together to demonstrate pruning basics and fine-tune organic approaches for where you be. The 'orchard calling card' offers a very affordable way for anyone anywhere to get important questions answered.

To put it simply, I want you to be able to grasp how to think through orchard challenges for yourself. My many years of tree experience and whole systems insight will help put you at the top of your game. Check out the range of package options offered on my orchard website, and then let's start the conversation. 

 

Michael Phillips

 

 

Consultant prospectus

Network members may request to be listed as a holistic orchard consultant. Please contact us to talk through your qualifications and perspective. Promoting one's professional services in this space  requires a sponsor-type commitment to the network in return.

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