The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982


(C) Matt Kaminsky 2016

On April 8 in Amherst, Matt Kaminsky, the author of The Wild Apple Forager’s Guide, will be teaching the workshop Fruit Tree Propagation Practicum: Grafting and Top Working along with Bob Fitz, lead orchardist of Small Ones Farm.

Malus domestica, the Latin nomenclature for the common apple, truly is an aptly-named species. From its early colonial days as the primary ingredient in hard cider, the drink of choice for most early New Englanders, to its current place as a centerpiece in autumn’s culinary delights, Malus domestica tells the story of our endless quest for sugar, intoxication, and control. No other fruit has been as shaped by the needs of the people it cohabited with.

New orchard fence with electric rope; note cylinder on tree trunk

Pru and I were thrilled to host a very well-attended NOFA/Mass workshop on fruit here at our homestead, Wild Browse, last weekend. We were floored by the unexpected number of folks, traveling from far and wide, across the state and beyond (Haverhill, Plymouth, Arlington to West Stockbridge, Conn. and points in between) who found their way here to Wendell. Thank you all for attending. We hope that you enjoyed the day as much as we did and that your effort was rewarded.

Little friend enjoying black raspberries

A few months back, Pru and I were asked if we’d lead a NOFA workshop on the topic of homestead fruit. We’re looking forward to hosting a group of curious learners at our homestead in Wendell for an Orchard Planning and Maintenance workshop on June 12. We’ll demonstrate overall orchard planning, building diversity into plantings, breed selection, practical fruit growing techniques, and soil and plant health.

Growing excellent tomatoes requires understanding your plants’ unique needs throughout each stage of its life, according to veteran farmer Amy LeBlanc, owner and operator of Whitehill Farm in East Wilton, Maine. During the summer, she and her husband grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and culinary herbs. They also participate in farmers’ markets and sell products online.

This workshop will take participants through one year in the life of a small organic orchard. Starts with winter pruning, followed by planting including a discussion of rootstocks, varieties, and grafting. Continues with pollination, thinning, pests and solutions, foliar sprays and soil amendments. Concludes with harvesting, and selling the fruit.

In this workshop on cider making, author and apple enthusiast David Buchanan presented a broad overview of the cider making process including tips and basic recipes, as well as an introduction to growing apples. He shared his experience planting whips and nursery trees, grafting (using large tree versus dwarf root stock), “tipping” (to encourage fruiting by winding the young tree around a stake), and pruning. David is particularly interested in reviving rare varieties of old-style American apples, once highly prized for the quality cider they produced.

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