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Organic Orchards  RSS feed

 
Phil Smith
Posts: 7
Location: Paris Tn, Henry County: As far east as you can get in West TN
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I'm looking at wanting to take the steps to start a "U-pick" orchard, but I'd like to keep it as natural and organic as possible.

The normal homesteaders on a few forums insist you cannot make a profit off organic fruit because it takes far too much work with organic means to keep pests, rot, disease, and fertilize the plants enough to get large fruit.

Do you all have any good resources or know if it's possible to run a several hundred tree orchard on all organic means?

My goal isn't to get rich, it's to sustain myself and my family off a decent sized business and with my extra produce give back to my family and my community, jsyk
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Phil Smith wrote:

Do you all have any good resources or know if it's possible to run a several hundred tree orchard on all organic means?

Can't say I've done it yet, but I am trying. Our trees are in their third spring, so we are still figuring things out. And we don't have the pest pressure you have in the east. But Michael Phillips is doing it.

Resources: Michael Philliips books, The Miracle Farm DVD (when it comes out this summer-the 9 min trailer is pretty inspiring)
How far are you from Big Horse Creek Farm?

Distance to market is hugely important. One reason we are concentrating on cider fruit is that we move the juice, not the perishable fruit.
Also consider season extension and entertainment opportunities like corn mazes, pumpkin patches, etc. One family farm I know of in Michigan does all of those, a Christmas tree farm and value-added sales in a shop. They want the customer who comes to the farm once to come repeatedly throughout the year. Now they are doing a high-end hard cider product as well. In the permaculture line, there are also medicinal herbs, teas, live plants, etc. to add to your mis.

Another thing to consider is who on the team has the public relations skill set. I live in a tourist town and I hate to say how many people I meet who ought not be operating their retail businesses interacting with the public. There's no shame in being an introvert, but don't mismatch your skills and inflict your discomfort on others. I'm not meaning you personally...but if someone on the team can't be the "family face of the farm" it's probably not going to work.

 
Phil Smith
Posts: 7
Location: Paris Tn, Henry County: As far east as you can get in West TN
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I'm about seven hours from Lansing according to google maps. I live in an area of TN where its mostly agriculture and small towns, but almost NO u-pick orchards in the surrounding five counties. I think the market is ripe because theres a huge emphasis on buying local and using the farmer markets around. I want to do a little bit of it all anyways so I'm looking forward to doing corn maizes and the like

As for being the public face I'm all about that. I actually get my BS in Corporate Communications which i specifically took to get into marketing and PR because I love interacting with people.

Idk if I'd want the hassle of going full certified organic, but as a personal choice I'd hate spraying the fruit I'm feeding my family and other people's kids with pesticides and nasty chemicals.
 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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Phil Smith wrote:I'm about seven hours from Lansing according to google maps.

Sounds like a good reason for a road trip to me! And also to go visit Foggy Ridge Cider over the border in VA.

Big Horse Creek Farm has a sample organic management plan on their website.
Another good source is Tom Burford's book. And there's one on southern apples I haven't seen, but has been discussed here at permies.com

All joking aside, finding trees by the hundred is non-trivial. The trees we just planted took 18 months to get from first deposit to roots in my ground. Start looking for new best friends and sources ASAP. The reason why I mention BHCF is that they have some regional specialties that might go over well for your customers, at least in the apple department, and probably can steer you to sources for the other fruits.

Agreed: doing and certifying are two different things. I haven't seen where it's worth the money, unless by doing so I get exempted from more onerous FSMA rules-in-the-making. Right now, I am disinclined to do more paperwork. I don't think my customers will care, but I'm not trying to sell to national yuppie food emporium either. If the customers do care, I will either revisit or find new customers. First I need to actually get to harvest though.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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