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Setting up an urban orchard - Thoughts

 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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Stefan -

Really looking forward to seeing the video!

I'm working on setting up an urban farm along a new bike trail that the city is working on. Hoping to include a permaculture orchard with the project. Any advice off the top of your head would be a great help -

1 - Some of the sites we may get access to are definitely old industrial (brownfield). I've read that fruit crops are the least likely to transfer contamination to the crop. Any thoughts on using these fields for some orcharding ? I'm probably more comfortable with leaving these sites alone or doing some sort of native restoration project on them. The web soil survey on them shows that the its good soil (minus the god-knows-what contamination).

2 - In the past, I helped to start up an orchard at an organic farm. Not permaculture by any means. The cost of the trees from a nursery + supplies was an eye opener! I've taken some grafting classes, and know that rootstock can be gotten for cheap/free. Starting up from scratch, would you recommend starting your own trees + grafting, or just paying a bit more up front for trees from a nursery? I'm guessing a bit of both. Trying to keep costs down where I can.

3 - Fruit quality - Do you have an acceptable level of insect/disease damage that you and your customers can agree on? Or do you mostly sell dessert quality, no damage fruit? just curious.

Thanks a ton for your time!
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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Joe Skeletor wrote:Stefan -

Really looking forward to seeing the video!

I'm working on setting up an urban farm along a new bike trail that the city is working on. Hoping to include a permaculture orchard with the project. Any advice off the top of your head would be a great help -

1 - Some of the sites we may get access to are definitely old industrial (brownfield). I've read that fruit crops are the least likely to transfer contamination to the crop. Any thoughts on using these fields for some orcharding ? I'm probably more comfortable with leaving these sites alone or doing some sort of native restoration project on them. The web soil survey on them shows that the its good soil (minus the god-knows-what contamination).

2 - In the past, I helped to start up an orchard at an organic farm. Not permaculture by any means. The cost of the trees from a nursery + supplies was an eye opener! I've taken some grafting classes, and know that rootstock can be gotten for cheap/free. Starting up from scratch, would you recommend starting your own trees + grafting, or just paying a bit more up front for trees from a nursery? I'm guessing a bit of both. Trying to keep costs down where I can.

3 - Fruit quality - Do you have an acceptable level of insect/disease damage that you and your customers can agree on? Or do you mostly sell dessert quality, no damage fruit? just curious.

Thanks a ton for your time!

Great questions Joe,
Bike paths are the BEST URBAN ORCHARD SITES. People are going slowly, can stop and pick. I dream of the day that my city, Montreal, will have 100km (60 miles) of permaculture orchard bike paths. Imagine the productivity!!!
1- RE contamination and transfer I know little. But I understand the power of FUNGUS. These FUN GUYS !!! want to work. Highly recommend 'Mycelium Running' by paul stamets. Great, great Book. They are known to breakdown the nastiest chemicals. Wood chip mulch, which cities produce a lot of can be used extensively under the fruit trees as mulch would solve, bind, breakdown a lot of the contamination.
2- yes trees are costly but so is gas! The best time to plant a fruit tree is 20 years ago. Yes we grew all our trees. An intern started our nursery of 6,000 fruit trees on a 50-50 basis. Left to start his own orchard and had 3,000 trees valued at $70,000 to start. Not bad. In the film I show you how we graft now. Tons of good youtube videos on it.
3- Quality we aim for 50% nice fruit and get it. Not nice can be insect, misshaped or disease damage. All good for juice anyway. We guarantee some bug juice in our juice and people love it! My customers are less picky than I am. Think of it where can you get NO Pesticide on fruit?? Not even copper or sulfur (organic sprays). We use whey from cheese making to spray. We can eat it.
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
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Thanks for the quick reply! Really neat to hear that you started 6,000 trees on-site.

I totally forgot that I had flipped through a copy of Mycelium Running about a year ago. I'll be sure to pick it up.

The work you've done is very inspiring , Stefan! All the best - Joe



PS -- Sorry to continue asking questions, but do you process your own juices on site? If this is already discussed in the movie, I can just wait to find out.

 
Michael McGurk
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Hi Joe,

Regarding the use of fungi to remediate damaged soil, I've spoken with a friend of mine (who's starting an urban gourmet mushroom production company) about this bioremediation potential that mushrooms have. He suggested covering the soil, or tilling into the soil, a ton of wood chips (adding organic matter to the soil), and then also innoculating fungi like Stropharia, aka the Wine Cap Mushroom or Garden Giant Mushroom. These mushrooms are edible, and can get huge. This is also the fungi strain that I hear Paul Stamets talking about for it's bioremediation effects. It can be used to clean up petroleum contaminated soil, radiation contamitated soil, or even soil polluted with heavy metals. For the petroleum, the fungi theoretically digests the hydrocarbons and the mushrooms would be edible. For radiated soil, or soil with heavy metals like lead, you would need to remove the mushrooms and dispose of them elsewhere. After a year or two of this (I'm not actually sure about the timeline), you should have soil that is much less polluted.

One of the cool methods for spawning huge amounts of Stropharia that I've heard Paul Stamets talk about is something he calls Mycototes. He fills large food-grade totes with straw, wood chips, and water, and lets the mixture soak for 2 weeks. This grows anaerobic bacteria, the totes get pretty stinky. Then he drains the water, and innoculates with stropharia. They grow huge, and really quickly. The anaerobic bacteria all die off in the presence of the oxygen, and the fungi explodes with life. This could be used to create large amounts of mycelium substrate very quickly.

I have some notes that I took at Paul Stamets' recent lecture in Philadelphia posted here: http://aquaponicsalive.blogspot.com/2014/05/notes-from-paul-stamets-talk-in.html

-Dirk
 
Stefan Sobkowiak
permaculture orchardist
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Joe Skeletor wrote:Thanks for the quick reply! Really neat to hear that you started 6,000 trees on-site.

I totally forgot that I had flipped through a copy of Mycelium Running about a year ago. I'll be sure to pick it up.
The work you've done is very inspiring , Stefan! All the best - Joe
PS -- Sorry to continue asking questions, but do you process your own juices on site? If this is already discussed in the movie, I can just wait to find out.

No I get it custom pressed on a high volume press (3-4 bins per hour). Well worth it in time savings and juice quality.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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