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from Carol Gudz:

Greetings,

I agree with the option chosen for continuing the HON. I find the information to be invaluable. I am willing to commit too annual  financial support of $100. 

My comment: if you wish to widen your audience it may be useful to think about a simplified protocol for truly backyarders who won't have the capacity or patience to undertake the full 'Michael monty', This limited protocol should be accompanied by advise on the challenges in growing fruit this way, to manage expectations. When I talk to small organic farmers (mostly livestock folks) who plant a few trees and ask for advice, I tell them to keep the grass away from the trunk to a distance of a foot or two, and provide some type of non-synthetic fertilizer. I encourage folks to focus on growing the least challenging fruits. In all cases the farmers had not been doing these things. This experience tempers my expectations of how people will care for their trees.

By way of context around my feedback, here is a sketch of my orchard experience: My husband and I are 60ish retirees in eastern Ontario who started a small mixed fruit non-commercial (barter) orchard that includes dynamic accumulators (comfrey) and nitrogen fixers (speckled alder) to support:

  • haskaps (100 partly intermixed)
  • Grapes (35) in monoculture rows
  • Aronias (30) in monoculture rows
  • Apples -mostly semi-dwarf liberty (15) intermixed
  • Pears (15) -intermixed
  • Plums and chums (15) intermixed
  • Romance Cherries (2-50 foot mixed rows) i
  • Hazelnut shrubs intermixed
  • Black raspberries (300 row feet planted in poly-propylene in mixed rows) plus some intermixed

The oldest trees are 7-8 years old. After watching many 'exciting' tree selections succumb to climate or disease calamities, we now select cultivars and fruit types exclusively based on hardiness and disease resistance. We also focus more on shrubs as opposed to trees because shrubs don't have the graft vulnerability. We have tried to implement as much of Michael's protocol as possible given available resources. In Canada we do not have access to the advanced botanical products discussed on the threads and our level of knowledge is lower than that possessed by many other contributors.

We have decent equipment (tractor, 15 gallon sprayer) and we are reasonably fit and capable. Because our orchard is surrounded by forest, we have disease pressures, insect pressures and, if we get past those, the birds and other assorted wildlife come calling. We're happy to share within limits but we need to resort to nets and electric fencing to get a portion of the berry and small fruit crop. Netting is not practical in a pure poly culture setup; hence, our use of monoculture rows for the fruits most attractive to birds (cherries, haskaps, grapes).

Overall assessment of our efforts? Mixed. At a minimum, we have created a healthy fruitful landscape. When we get too old to care for the plants, we plan to let them fend for themselves. There is no interest in our aging community for community involvement in supporting our orchard and sharing its products. 

Overall, learning how to look after fruiting plants in and earth-friendly manner is the most satisfying project I have ever undertaken, regardless of how successful we are.

Carol
from Andy Brennan:

I'm sure I speak for many silent voices when I say thank you for taking up this and working toward a strong future. 

being introverted and an artist, I am not sure how to be of service except with my stories and my experience bridging apple wisdom with 'normal' civilian lives.

this community is so important so I would like to be able to help keep it together in ways that I'm suited for.

Again thank you guys for taking it up.

Andy

 

from Laura Sieger:

I'm not sure I have much input here, but I do want to say that I appreciate the three of you keeping HON alive, and I'm happy to continue to pay dues and be an active member of the forum. I also think the 3rd option to fundraise and proceed sounds like a wise move. I continue to point almost all of the people who ask me orcharding questions to the forum for reading and discussion. 

thanks for continuing the work!

Laura

 

from Paul Weir:
Hi Friends,

I will put forth a vote for option 3 as well. As a former admin/moderator in the grower forums too, Michael Phillips and I clocked a lot of hours on the phone and by email working through a lot of ideas for the website and forums and more over the years. I have enjoyed being a part of the HON think tank, the behind the scenes, and the public outreach too. Inspiring new growers, learning from others and helping one another out was always very satisfying. I pulled out of my regular HON participation and activity in 2020 after my personal battle with cancer, surgery and treatments thereafter. Honestly, it kicked my butt and I am still not whole and likely will never be the 'me I was before'. I had to reduce and pull back from a number of activities in my life. I share this because I am still not in a good place to be regularly involved in the HON and the future, but my heart is with the team and the core values and I hope to see it continue, as a legacy, if nothing else. 

All the best! Thank you for all you are doing,

Paul Weir

 

from Brian Caldwell:
Hi all,

thanks so much for keeping this going!

Option #3 sounds best to me.

It is hard for me to wrap my head around how or if HON should grow or morph.

What are current plans for an issue of the newsletter?

Brian
from Steve Dagger:

Thanks for spearheading this effort. What you propose, starting with taking the door 3 approach, makes a lot of sense to me and I am fully supportive of moving in that direction. I expect as things develop and evolve there will be additional options to consider and decisions to make.

For my part I will continue to contribute membership dues support and continue to be active in member forum discussions. I’m also willing to contribute to any capital campaign that is put together to fund HON activities. In addition, I know several orchardists whom I might persuade to become active members and I will work on that.

Other suggestions I have are ones you are likely to have already considered but here they are:

  • Reach out specifically to other known apple-centric groups and individuals who already have well-established networks and look for ways to collaborate. People like John Bunker and Tom Brown as well as regional cider and fruit explorer organizations come to mind. Some smaller regional organizations are likely struggling to sustain themselves and might find value in becoming part of HON.
  • Come up with initial funding for paying someone to further organize, improve and index the information already present in the archives and on the website. A little research might pay off here; there are likely other websites that have similar needs and/or have had to transition from being a mostly one-person effort that could provide useful models or examples.
  • Get a piece or two published on Micheal Phillips' work and legacy in some general interest publications to further raise interest in growing fruit holistically.

Keep me posted and reach out again if you think there is any other way in which I can assist in transitioning HON to a more sustainable footing.

Steve Dagger

more to come!



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