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The future of fruit growing, a 12-acre commercial permaculture orchard in Southern Quebec

 
Olivier Asselin
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Location: Ariege, France
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There's a lot of people out there who say permaculture can't be applied at a commercial scale.

Maybe it's not exactly true, check this out :



Twenty years ago, Stefan Sobkowiak bought a 12-acre commercial apple orchard with the intention of converting it to an organic orchard. He did just that, but eventually understood the limitations of the organic model originating from monoculture. He then decided to tear out most of the trees and replant in a way that would maximize biodiversity and yield while minimizing maintenance. Inspired by permaculture principles, the orchard now counts over 100 cultivars of apples, plus several types of plums, pears, cherries, and countless other fruits and vegetables.

By maximizing biodiversity, the system established by Stefan attracts a huge number of pollinators and other insects, but also birds and other types of animals. This not only helps to control pests, but increases the yields and reduces the amount of work needed. Mixing in nitrogen fixing trees among fruit trees also helps create fertility and eliminates the need for external inputs of fertilizers, resulting in a circular eco-system that takes care of itself.

Everything is organized following what Stefan calls a grocery aisle concept, where everything in one row will be ripe and ready to harvest within a 10-day window. This allows efficient harvesting despite the huge diversity of species, and could be a very useful model for large-scale commercial fruit growing.
 
Adam Klaus
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very good link, thanks for sharing.

It is great to see a viable way of managing an orchard. Too often, I feel that we try to throw the baby out with the bathwater, rejecting everything traditional, even the very concept of orchards. Too extreme, in my view. This video is such a great example of how orchards can function in an ecological way, and still be viable for the farmer.

Bravo!
 
Isabelle Gendron
Posts: 173
Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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HÉÉÉÉ I was just coming here to post this video After watching it I did some research on him and found this also...it is in French though but there is a couple of interesting complementary infos.

Isabelle

http://www.entransition.com/amenagement-viable/permaculture/stefan-sobkowiak/
 
Isabelle Gendron
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Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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Olivier,

In the document he his saying that the trees have been planted closer that they should have. Are you able to say approx what is the distance beteween his trees? I would say 4m...What is the ideal distance between the roews that I should lokk for? I was asking in another post how can I seeds my field that I didn't know what to di with it yet...well ask and you'll receive...I think I found it

Isabelle
 
Olivier Asselin
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Isabelle,

I wish I could answer that, but Stefan is the real expert, I'm just the guy with the camera!

This said, we're working on a full-length educational film based on his experience at Miracle Farms, for which we hope to launch a Kickstarter campaign at the end of next week.

I'll post it here once it goes live, but we also created a Facebook page specifically for this project that will have all the updates : The Permaculture Orchard : Beyond Organic

I'm hoping that film will answer a lot of the more technical questions about what Stefan's done and how it can be replicated.
 
Isabelle Gendron
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Location: Montmagny, Québec, Canada (zone 4b)
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OK thanks. I will follow that with big interest.

Isabelle
 
Harry Greene
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Follow up for everyone: "Restoration Agriculture" by Mark Shepherd. Read it. It's all about late scale permaculture and how it legitimately does work.
 
Harry Greene
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large* and commercial*
 
William James
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At 3:00 min, does he say "at the base of the honeysuckle" Does he mean honey locust?

French honeysuckle is a bush and it does fix nitrogen, but I think he was talking about a tree, which could only be honey locust.

Thanks,
William
 
Olivier Asselin
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William,

Yes he did mean honey locust, you are absolutely right! Stefan pointed that out to me after I released the video. I'll try to put a note on youtube about it.

Thanks!

Olivier
 
Amedean Messan
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Oliver, I liked this video very much, it was refreshing!
 
J D Horn
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FWIW Diego interviewed Stefan at the Permaculture Voices Podcast. There is a lot of good stuff in that interview.

http://www.permaculturevoices.com/permaculture/permaculture-voices-podcast-021-the-permaculture-orchard/
 
Bill Erickson
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OH my, Stefan has done an awesome job there. What hardiness zone is it there in Quebec? That looks like something I'd like to try myself, along with the hugelkultur I am planning for my properties. Not sure what a good nitrogen fixer would be for my zone 3a to 4b areas.

Most standard size fruit trees require around a 25 foot spacing, with dwarf and semi-dwarf getting down to 10 to 15 feet. There is also the need for cross pollinators for the fruit.

Very interesting video.
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
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Bill Erickson wrote:OH my, Stefan has done an awesome job there. What hardiness zone is it there in Quebec? That looks like something I'd like to try myself, along with the hugelkultur I am planning for my properties. Not sure what a good nitrogen fixer would be for my zone 3a to 4b areas.

Most standard size fruit trees require around a 25 foot spacing, with dwarf and semi-dwarf getting down to 10 to 15 feet. There is also the need for cross pollinators for the fruit.

Very interesting video.

Bill I am in the same climate zone as you are. Zone 5b in Canada is USDA zone 4b.
 
allen lumley
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Bujmp !
 
Jon La Foy
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Awesome video. This was actually the first video related to permaculture I watched. Really inspirational and is something that we need to share to everyone. On just 12 acres he can do all that!! What about 100, or 200!?!? If only more people knew...
This video is what hooked me to permaculture and has caused me to want a commercial business (more varities via food forest, however.) Either way, amazing!!
 
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