Visitors expect a pottery and kilns and the smell of the leather shop, but they are usually surprised to drive through our 1,200 tree orchard on the way in. What began with a 22 tree homestead orchard in 2011 has become a passionate adventure in growing premium fruit and making our disused farm blossom. We grow apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and plums, and grow fresh winter greens in our two large greenhouses in addition to the vegetables and meat we raise for our family. We have grafted most of our own trees, dozens of varieties of apple alone, on dwarfing rootstocks and grow the trees on a trellis, training them as they grow to encourage good form and early bearing.
Our land is a sloping terrace of deep Howard soil left by the glaciers, one of the best fruit growing soil in the state, but it was cropped and grazed heavily through the first half of the 20th century. We see ourselves as stewards of the land for our generation, with a chance to bring it into full fertility so it can help sustain our community with clean food, air and water. Our focus is on the soil. Terracing, pond building, cover cropping, and mulching all control and capture water and nutrients in the soil. All the orchard rows are mulched with several inches of wood chips from a local tree service - hundreds of yards of organic matter added to create a tree-friendly mycorrhizal community in the soil, retain water, and help suppress weeds.
In 2015 we received a grant from USDA NRCS to purchase a 30x72 high tunnel greenhouse. Combined with our first high tunnel, we are now growing enough winter greens for 50 families.
In the summer we work long days on the farm, but as soon as it's dark, we're right back in the workshop!