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Grower Core Values

crafted by holistic consensus 

Philosophical approval of one's farming practices is indeed a tough nut to crack. Fruit growers, let your thoughts be known. We have no intention of launching yet another certification process. On the other hand, giving orchardists a nudge to embrace radiant system health that results in the growing of nutrient-dense fruit is an honorable achievement.

Orchard challenges are many – the work overwhelming at times. What follows are positive guidelines to keep us on track in managing our orchards based on minimal off-farm inputs, biological impetus, robust photosynthesis, and outrageous diversity. And certainly let's include grower happiness here as well!

 

 

Holistic Insight #203   On-farm capability to make ramial wood chips (twiggy style!) expands the orchard resource base considerably, allowing coppice management of mycorrhizal bridge species like willow and alder found in hedgerows and other wetter places. 

 

Bringing Orchard Health to the Fore

  • The phytoconstituents provided within the fruit we grow nourishes families. Do not short change the nutrient density of fruit by using soluble chemical fertilizers. Invest in rock powders where mineral needs come up short.
  • Aged compost, ramial wood chips, and unpasteurized liquid fish used in sprays abet mycorrhizal fungi. Holistic orchardists think about fungi.
  • Herbal medicine at its finest is really about deep nutrition. Fermented brews of horsetail, nettle, and comfrey offer wide-ranging constituent bioavailability to both foliage and fruit. Kelp from the sea serves as a tree megavitamin in every spray tank. Raw garlic extract works in synthesis with other spray materials. Plant-based alchemy would also include the biodynamic compost preps.
  • Orchard sprays that build health include fatty acids. Unadulterated neem oil and karanja oil help ward off disease as well as quell pest dynamics. Support a fair trade source of these seed oils. Ponder bioregional alternatives like hemp and dairy to stimulate tree phytochemistry and support arboreal microbes.
  • Understand the timing of orchard tasks relative to tree growth cycles and what holistic orchardists refer to as the Fungal Curve.
  • Abetting diversity in the orchard ecosystem is a must. Manage the fallows to encourage tap-rooted plants; plant comfrey as 'living mulch' around full-size trees; include flowering plants like buckwheat and dill in cover crop plantings for helpful insects. Herbicides are not a part of abetting diversity.
  • Practice biological mowing as opposed to all-out grass warfare. Keep ongoing bloom in mind to support native pollinators and adult beneficials.

Pest and Disease Management

  • Good hygiene practice limits pathogen launching pads as well as soil-pupating pest populations.
  • Spray applications are generally essential for commercial orchardists. The OMRI List is one tool to gauge acceptable organic options. We share a goal to minimize off-farm inputs – wise discernment as how best to optimize a spray application is part of that process. Use monitoring traps, trap trees, feeding attractants, and ultraviolet inhibitors (like fish oil) to protect biological spray materials. Use kaolin clay to advantage to also help lessen sun degradation of sulfur. Think through tank mixes to limit the number of tractor passes through the orchard.
  • Fungicides should be used intelligently rather than from a place of fear. Keeping disease in check is very important but so is supporting the microorganism community in both the soil and the canopy. Equally telling, far fewer fungicides (of any sort) allow higher levels of medicinal constituents in the fruit.
  • We encourage every grower to forego the use of all synthetic chemicals. That said, we recognize orchard dynamics at any one site differ considerably. If limited use of a certain chemical in the short term makes it possible for you to sustain a community orchard effort, LOCAL takes credence over ORGANIC. But . . . please try your darndest to explore less allopathic options, give such methods a legitimate chance, and recognize that 'breaking the habit' may indeed now be feasible.
  • All growers need to understand that healthy plant metabolism lies at the heart of changing pest and disease dynamics. Study up about nutrient pulsing!

Community Mindedness

  • Educating customers about what it takes to grow holistically in turn increases acceptance of minor  surface blemishes. Common sense goes a long ways to reducing the need for unnecessary interventions.
  • Honor reasonable grading standards.
  • Charge enough to make a viable living for your family.
  • Community orchardists serve local markets – the home farmstand, farmers' markets, food co-ops,  CSA's, and membership cider clubs are all wonderful!
  • Observe the teachings of the trees. Actively share what you discover with this network so other growers can jump start their own learning curves.
  • Remember that personal integrity matters. Always.

Holistic Insight #184   The surrounding plant community brings different fungal species into 'root play' thereby bringing balanced nutrition to our trees.

 

The term organic as now in the hands of the US Department of Agriculture has been convoluted. National certification standards for organic agriculture do indeed reflect good tenets but there are also dubious rules and outright hedging that miss the mark. One can meet the standards for organic fruit growing and yet be way out of touch with whole system thinking. The true goals of the grassroots organic movement have never changed: healthy food from healthy soil, local farms feeding local folks. Importing an organic apple from thousands of miles away is not environmental awareness in action – burning petroleum to get that piece of fruit to your door could be considered just as as 'earth allopathic' as reliance on toxic sprays, frankly.

And so we encourage all growers to trial holistic techniques. This is a nudging process. We're getting here from there, to paraphrase a classic New England adage.

 

 

Get involved with your community orchardist, fruit lovers. Offer sweat labor on orchard work days, do some word-of-mouth marketing, pay the fair price, share your appreciation. The story behind any grower's decisions are understood by other growers in this network and an open book to you as well . . . all you have to do is ask.

This network deliberately uses the term holistic to describe wholesome orchard practices. Yet we also recognize that there are well-intentioned growers who may not yet be in an economic position to forego a certain chemical application. These are growers who support soil life, dial back fungal problems with good hygiene practice, minimize the use of fungicides in favor of boosting tree immune function with deep nutrition, abet arboreal allies, and approach pest situations with life-cycle understanding and outrageous diversity too. Discerning chemical use may be a one-shot directed at overwhelming curculio pressure or extended fruit rots due to high humidity. We need everyone on board to provide nutrient-dense food in communities everywhere.

 

 

GOA logo with green in the tree only

Finding our network logo on a member orchard
website tells customers that this is indeed
a place where the pursuit of healthy fruit matters!

 

 

Your learning curve 

Understanding Nature's ways requires we pay attention. A clear overview of holistic tenets helps growers see how an integrated tree tapestry comes to be. Healthy plant metabolism plays a big role in boosting photosynthesis . . . and that's really the key to growing beautiful fruit year after year.

What's Next:
The Big Picture
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