There is a possibility that a 7 acre cherry orchard could fall under the care of my hatband and i. While we are excited about the possible opportunity, we are concerned about the possible challenges:
The orchard has been farmed conventionally for at least 20 years. I'm not sure when these practices started originally, but the trees were almost all replanted in the mid 1980s. They have definitely been farmed conventionally (ie chemically!) since then. We are deeply committed to permaculture and organic practices that norish the earth. It would be a dream come true to turn this 7 acre cherry orchard into a thriving, integrated, fully alive system.
Does anyone have experience converting from conventional to organic practices on this scale?
What might be the challenges that lay ahead?
Will the trees be strong enough to make this transition?
I can think of two particularly important issues for you to address,
1. Pest Control ...
- what pests do you have in your area?
- what pests are specific to cherry trees?
- how will you keep your orchard pest free with organic methods?
2. Soil Reclamation ...
- how will you start to rebuild the soil ?
- what chemicals were used previously that may affect your attempts to reclaim the soil?
Off hand I'd recommend some basic permie knowledge such as...
comfrey - plant comfrey at the base of your trees to deter pests and to insure the plants around your trees will not be competing with the trees roots
AACT - actively aerated compost teas , these are essentially super powered innoculant a of microbial life
Mycorrhiza - this fungus is an essential part of building life in the soil, the fungus will form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your trees facilitating the exchange of positive ions to the tree in return for negative ions for the fungus. This exchange is one of the most important aspects of soil life.
Edited for typos.
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