Passing of Joyce Neighbors- Alabama Apple Hunter

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In November of 2013, while sitting in my house in a holler in the middle of nowhere Virginia, I decided to take Lee Calhoun’s book, Old Southern Apples, off the shelf. I did this nearly every day, opening it up to a random page and reading the contents- sort of like one would with a daily calendar. On this particular day, I opened it up to a page mentioning the apple variety ‘Granny Neighbors.’ The explanations follows:

In her self-published book, Apples: Collecting Old Southern Varieties, nurserywoman Joyce Neighbors of Gadsden Alabama, writes: “A seedling apple variety found on my Dad’s farm in Clay County about 1975. . . and was growing in a trash dump about 50 feet from a hackworth (apple) tree. . . My dad named the tree after my mother. This apple variety has grown well in Illinois, where it was “one of the hits of this year’s tasting.” Fruit medium size, roundish conical; skin pale yellow splotched with red and some faint stripes; stem almost long in a wide, russetted cavity; dots scattered, large and small, grey; calyx greenish, open; basin corrugated, moderately shallow; flesh yellow, subacid; Ripe August. No catalog listing.

As with all apple books who mention someone’s name, I wondered if Joyce Neighbors was still alive. After posting in NAFEX’s (North American Fruit Explorers) facebook page, I learned that she had corresponded with others in the past year and was, more than likely, still around! I then tried to find her address online and noticed her place was for sale. With that, I vowed to go and see her as soon as I could.

In January of 2014, when driving down to attend the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) Conference in Mobile, Alabama, I stopped and knocked unannounced on Joyce Neighbor’s door. When the door opened, I told her that I was here because of apples, and she let me in without hesitation.

Some older apple people will tell you that they don’t have much to offer when you want to come visit. This is, of course, an exaggeration..but in the case of Joyce it at first seemed as if she had taken on her orchard as a representation of herself.  “There’s not much left of the orchard…” she told me when I first visited. “I had a guy working for me who was helping to fight back the brambles and prune the trees, but he stole from me and I had to get rid of him.”  When I asked if I could see the orchard, she told me that she wouldn’t let me go by myself, and her legs wouldn’t let her go with me. I honored her request not to go into the orchard that day, knowing I’d be able to see it someday.

Before she became a fruit hunter, Joyce worked for a retired army general for 22 years and that experience taught her organizational skills beyond what most people consider to be proficient. She was an ambitious soul, where after a full day at work, she would stay up until 2 am every night, working on an over-the-mail business management correspondent course.  Joyce finished this two year course in 6 months.

She was never married, having chosen to take care of her younger sister instead. The years of stress involved in taking care of her sister had taken a toll on her nervous system and by 2000, she had developed tremors in her hands and neck. Shortly before I had visited, her sister was put into an assisted living facility because Joyce was no longer able to care for her properly.  Since then, things seemed to be looking up for Joyce. Her tremors had greatly improved and she was once again able to write her name using a pen and paper.  Aside from the phone, her primary method of communication was through email. She was incredibly computer savvy for her age.

When looking at Joyce’s computer, a large desktop, her screen saver flashed apple after apple after apple, all different varieties. I watched for a long while, waiting for the slide show to end, but it kept going. Hundreds of pictures of apples, many of which she had taken. Only a few of them were labeled on the screen saver, yet she knew every one of them by heart. “Buff, Cherryville Black, Wolf River, Early Cortland…now those are ones I grew!” “Maidens Blush, Spartan, Iron Black and Sal, Betsy Crocket, PawPaw Sweet.” This went on and on…

“Red Rebel!” She yelled as it passed along her screen. Her brother’s wife had a red rebel apple tree growing in her parent’s front yard.  Her Brother drove a truck under the tree so he could reach up there and take cuttings for Joyce to graft. Red Rebel was a better tasting apple than Carter’s Blue, the way Joyce grew it in her orchard. “Lee Calhoun said it was a good apple, too. But it’s not the Rebel he’s been looking for,” she said. “Make sure that everyone knows it. My Red Rebel is not Rebel!”

“That’s one right there! White Buckingham! Now you gotta get White Buckingham from Tom Brown. It’s the biggest apple you’ll find. Bigger than Gloria Mundi.”

“NOW THAT’S A GOOD APPLE FOR THE LOWER SOUTH!!! REVEREND MORGAN!!!”

She got so excited watching that slide show with me and calling out the names. Though her orchard was inaccessible to her in her own back yard,  it was preserved in the form of a screen saver.  She could watch it for hours on end, reminiscing about the flavors and growth habits and the hunt for each.

Joyce got into hunting apples when it became evident that she needed to save some apple trees off of her Father’s farm (one of them being Granny Neighbors). In 1979, She ordered a grafting kit from Stark Brothers and got Jim Lawson to sell her 10 rootstock (m7 she thought). She went by the directions in the grafting manual sent from Stark Brothers, and all 10 of them took. From there, a nursery business was born. January 14th, 1985- Joyce got her nursery license from the State of Alabama.

She told me how lucky she was to have received her nursery license. “It wasn’t this easy for all women,” she said. In her travels to find old Alabama apples, she visited Brannon Nursery because they were once a source for many of the old apples on her list, including  the very illusive Black Warrior. Joyce arrived to Brannon nursery expecting to meet with old Mr. Brannon, but to her surprise and delight, it was Mrs. Brannon who ran the nursery! It turned out that Mrs. Brannon was a school teacher who hated and subsequently quit her job. She wanted to be outside, working with trees, so she applied for a nursery license from the State of Alabama in 1960. They denied her a license because she was a woman. Undeterred, Mrs. Brannon then sought a nursery license in her husband’s name…and began grafting.  Joyce would go on to tell me about how Mrs. Brannon root grafted her apple trees (the only method she used). In December, she would take 3 or 4 inches of a root off an apple tree and then graft the scionwood to it. She put them in moist pine sawdust immediately after she grafted them and once they had taken root, she’d plant them out. Mrs. Brannon died a couple years after Joyce found her, and she wished she could have asked her more questions.

In Joyce’s own nursery operation, the most she ever grafted in one year was 700 trees, but she preferred to graft around 300 trees a year. They were always planted in pots, and people had to come to her. Never once did she ship a tree. She told me that on rare occasion, people would come to her with only enough money to buy one tree, not knowing that it needed a pollenator. Joyce would then go and find the most obscure variety she had that was a compatible pollination partner, and would sell it to them for next to nothing. She retired her nursery business in the spring of 2009, though her nursery sign was still hanging in 2015 when I went back to visit her with my friends Pete Halupka, Lindsay Whitaker, and Pete Walton.

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Turns out, Joyce loved selfies. Here we are, eating apples from her orchard.

Joyce LaRue Neighbors, 90, of Gadsden, Alabama, died September 30th, 2017. The apple world has lost one amazing fruit hunter and nurserywoman. She’s now eating and describing all the lost apples she came just short of finding, with Black Warrior being the first.

“It’s best to grow a variety out yourself and learn how to describe it. Learn how to describe a variety. Learn that for your own use. It’s going to vary for where it’s grown. Somebody down the road might be different from me. And the cultural processes have a lot to do with it. A lot to do with it. My growing condition, the pH, would affect it. Other people might look at it different. Give it plenty of sunshine. Roots don’t need to get water logged. You got deer? Put up an 8 or 10 foot deer fence.” –Joyce Neighbors

Pete Halupka, who lived a little over an hour away from Joyce, became a friend and mentee of hers. His write up is below:

RIP JOYCE NEIGHBORS. Who I am so proud to say was my dearest friend and apple mentor and deeply influential to many apple enthusiasts. Gadsden, AL. 

I’m very sad to say that I was sending Joyce a holiday email, and when I googled to remind myself of her email, rather than switching email accounts, I saw her obituary. It makes me feel terrible, but I hadn’t emailed her since her passing in September, 2017.

I first found Joyce in Lee Calhoun’s Old Southern Apples in 2014. She was listed under the Alabama apples that she had found since the 1980’s. I Googled her name to find her contact as I just couldn’t believe there was an Alabama apple hunter, doing what I wanted to do.

I called her number. As many have. She was a bit dismissive till I told her I wanted to help her find “Black Warrior”, an apple she has never found. She perked up. She invited me over to her nursery and old orchard. I was elated.

I came to her home, for the first time. I knocked and heard her faintly speak across the house to hold on. She sat me down, almost immediately, at her old computer. She told me that she was very adept at computers after a long time as an assistant to a General. It was clear she actually could navigate her computer amazingly well for someone her age and of her generation. She began to do something really specific. She was opening Word documents and each individual document was titled for each apple variety she had in her orchard. Within each document, was vivid descriptions of her apples both from other sources but also her own descriptions in her book. For the next six hours, she spoke about apples. I have literally scores of hours of her speaking. I also have stacks, and stacks of papers of her writing and others.

I made sure that each variety was accounted for in her orchard. They were grafted and distributed by me, but also scores of apple nerds across the country and world. She found almost 10 Alabama varieties out of “extinction” that had much cultural importance to our ancestors. Each of those varieties is planted, and sometimes fruiting. For someone like Joyce, an botanical preservationist and apple hunter, this was her legacy.

The last time I saw Joyce, I showed her my two year old “Red Rebel” apple planted in my orchard, a variety she found after it disappeared for many years. I was elated to show her and in a touching moment together, she was having trouble speaking her words, and I saw one tear down her weathered cheek.

When Eliza Greenman, Pete Walton, Lindsay Whiteaker and I went to visit Joyce one time, we went out to the orchard (which she hadn’t walked in four years) and found several apples (Red Rebel, Horse and Captain Davis). When she saw herself in the iPhone, she giggled, she became just so excited and asked us to take more. This made us so happy, as she often would be a little closed off due to pain or discomfort, but then some days she would be very open and giggly.

If you want to learn more about Joyce, unfortunately there is limited information. But, the best interview available is a Southern Foodways podcast on #thefruitexplorers with Eliza Greenman and I, where Mary Helen Montgomery does a great interview with Joyce. I will link this below. Lastly, If you can find it, she has a self published book of her varieties and other Southern varieties available not online but from folks who have it. It is now time to scan her book in, as well.

 

 

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Wanted: June Ripening Apples (and Pears)

IF YOU HAVE INFO ON ACTUAL TREES RIPENING APPLES/PEARS IN JUNE IN ZONE 7 OR COLDER, COMMENT ON THIS BLOG!!! 

Summer apples are rarely of interest to most apple growers and consumers. Compared to their later season kin, they bruise easily, are often described as lacking texture (or “mealy”), low in sugar, and having a very high acidity. They might not seem very fun from this brief description, and I’ll go into detail of why these apples are fun for me in a bit, but first: Light hearted stereotypes of people who find/have found summer apples to be exciting:

1.) Elderly people from New England & other places labeled “Cold as Hell”

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In my own personal experience, 90% of people over the age of 80 know of the Russian cultivars “Red Astrachan” and/or “Yellow Transparent” because of apple sauce. These are the first popular apple cultivars to ripen in New England and have a relatively thin skin that disintegrates when cooked down into sauce. That disintegrating skin quality, by the way, is a big factor defining a “sauce apple.” If you have to peel it before you cook it/have to use a food mill to get the peels out: It’s not a true sauce apple.

I made some apple sauce this year from an old Yellow Transparent tree in Northern VA (Apples cored, halved + Pot + Stovetop) and my tasting audience (employees of Southern States Cooperative), thought it was too acidic. I, the person who subsists on apples for months out of the year, thought it was great. But I’ve realized that my area in Virginia has lost much of its culture surrounding summer apple sauce. In New England, it seems to still be alive…for now.

2.) People alive in the early-mid 1800s

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A woman from NY reaching for a Yellow May apple from VA, as her trees are still in bloom.

In researching early ripening apples in my home state of Virginia, I’ve run across several accounts of growers from Southern Virginia selling “Yellow May” (a June Ripening apple for them) to New York markets for a pretty penny. Turns out, before the Russian cultivars (like red astrachan and yellow transparent) hit the scene, people in the Northern states were hankering for apples in June and buying them from the South. They probably ate them, rather than making sauce, because I don’t think texture was as big of an issue as it is now (thanks, apple lobbyists).

Why am I looking for June ripening apples?

Quick answer: For animal fodder

Long answer: It is my ambition to create animal paddocks based on drop times of fruit. WHAT THIS MEANS: I will one day be able to rotate animals from paddock to paddock and have that synched with drop times. Their feed will entirely be the grass growing in the orchard and the dropped/shaken-off fruits from the next level up. I’ve done quite a bit of work/collection for the later months, but the early months are much harder.

WHAT AM I LOOKING FOR?

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Anyone north of Virginia, in mountainous areas, or familiar with the USDA plant hardiness zone map 7a/7b*: If you know of an apple that produces in June and can get access to it/provide contact info to me, I would love to hear about it. The perfect scenario is this:

1.) I’m provided with some background info on the tree you’ve identified as a June bearing apple. This includes location, what you think it might be called, when in June it bears (early June/late June) and any other info you can find (bloomtime is something that comes to mind, but not that important). This is so I can keep notes on your selections and credit you in the future! Pictures are also a huge help.

2.) You can either take scionwood from the tree or get me the contact info so I can write/call the owners and see about getting some scionwood from this tree. I will gladly pay for your time and effort. Please, before taking scionwood, reach out to me so I can make sure we are on the same page as to what scionwood actually is.

3.) You mail the scionwood to me and I compensate you and credit you in future descriptions and work!

Other items of note:

I DO NOT CARE HOW THIS APPLE TASTES/TEXTURE/SMELLS/LOOKS. AT ALL.

I DO NOT CARE WHETHER OR NOT IT GETS BAD DISEASE (but would love to hear about this if you have info)

I DO NOT CARE IF IT HAS A NAME OR NOT

I DO NOT CARE IF IT IS GRAFTED

I DO NOT CARE IF YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A JUNE BEARING PEAR. That’s amazing, too, and I want to hear about it.

I ONLY CARE IF IT BEARS IN JUNE. Come one, come all…get in touch with me if you know of a June apple bearing in slightly colder climates.

*The reason why I ask for zone 7a/7b or colder (the lower the zone number, the colder) is so I can extrapolate. If someone in zone 5 has a first week of June apple, that could very well be a mid-late May apple for me. May apples in Northern VA are non-existant as far as I know, and I’m also very interested. The earlier the bearing, the more diverse of a diet my animals get earlier in the season. 

 

 

 

 

The Holy Grail of Apple Nerdery is Here…

When I apprenticed for John Bunker in Maine, one of my paid gigs was to help create an online apple key. All summer and fall, I entered apple descriptions into the computer from a gigantic three ring binder containing 16,000+ apple varieties. That three ring binder was Dan Bussey’s book, version 1 of The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada….in size 5 font with no pictures.  I didn’t even make it out of the B’s that year.

The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada

7 years later, the day has come for this 7 VOLUME SET to now be available for purchase and hugging. This, friends, is truly the holy grail of apple nerdery. And it’s affordable at $350 (which includes shipping). Don’t believe me? Try buying an original copy of Apples of New York Volumes 1 and 2. (and you only get 2 volumes compared with 7)

I just bought a set and thought I’d share it on this blog because I’m excited about it and want Dan to sell thousands of volumes. With the exception of William Cox’s A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees (which I’ll probably never own a real copy of), I’m fairly certain my heirloom apple library is now complete with this acquisition.

Wondering what to get that special someone in your life who enjoys apples? Why not get them the most overwhelming 7 volume set of apples you possibly can this year. The pictures alone are worth the $350.

Dwarfing Mulberries: An Afternoon with Dr. A.J. Bullard

“Over here are the mulberries. This one is a pure Morus rubra that produces 2 inch fruits.” “Liza. Can you tell me what is different about this tree?”

This is the way of Dr. A.J. Bullard. He playfully taunts you with little snippets from his 70+ years of tree knowledge and then immediately follows it up by asking you seemingly impossible questions. “What is different about this tree?” 

Dr. A.J. Bullard isn’t a former horticultural professor, but a former baseball player and Dentist who is a botanical wiz. He reads botanical textbooks and then writes letters consisting of page upon page of single spaced revisions and fact checking to the authors. The most common complaint he voiced to me in reading these texts was how everyone seems to copy information from book to book rather than doing the research for themselves. Dr. Bullard is that man, the guy who has studied the intricacies of the Southeastern plant world so thoroughly and in real life that he often receives identification questions which have stumped the arboretums and universities (and he figures them out).

I didn’t know this about A.J when I went to visit him. I knew of him as the former president of the North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) who probably knows more about mulberries than anyone in the US. His knowledge is integral to the advancement of mulberries as a tree crop in the United States.

This blog post/essay is in relation to a running conversation about mulberries that I’ve had with A.J ever since we met (my boyfriend would tell you that I talk to A.J on the phone more than I talked to him when we first started dating).  The full conversation will be in the form of a presentation at this year’s annual NAFEX/NNGA conference in Tifton, Georgia. Among the multitudes of reasons why you should be there, hearing A.J. talk is one very, very good reason.


“What is different about this tree?” 

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Slowly, we approached the above pictured mulberry tree and he asks us again: “What is different about this mulberry tree?” I think on it for a bit and come up with nothing, so he asks again. “What do you see that is different with this tree?” I got nothing, A.J. No idea. “What about the height? It’s no taller than 12 feet,” he says. Ah, right…mulberries aren’t normally 12 feet tall unless they are a naturally dwarfing cultivar. “Correct!” “What if I told you this wasn’t a dwarf cultivar? What if I told you that I have figured out how to dwarf mulberries?”

Dear readers- Have you ever had your mind blown? It’s a flooding of immense realization and wonder and excitement, all at the same time. What I’m about to tell you not only blew my mind, but in a strange way paralleled my own exploits.

Dwarfing trees is a huge deal these days. Thousands and thousands of orchard acres are getting converted yearly into dwarfing orchards because 1.) more trees per acre=more fruit per acre 2.) smaller trees are easier and cheaper to manage/harvest. If you pick up an fruit industry magazine, there’s usually a very good chance of the magazine featuring one article on the promise of better dwarfing rootstock for pears/cherries/peaches/name fruit tree in the coming years because that’s where the industry is headed. However, there are some downsides to all of this and it’s usually in these three sectors: Costs (because trellis systems or support posts are expensive, Longevity (dwarfing rootstocks are shorter lived, maybe 25 years), and Input (these trees require tending from humans or else they’ll suffer and/or die).

What A.J has done to get dwarfing mulberries would allow an orchardist to fit close to 200 mulberry trees per acre. It costs less than, say, planting the same number of apple trees per acre on an m26 rootstock (semi-dwarfing) because the trees you plant are able to stand up without the need for support posts. They are longer lived (the trees pictured are 40 years old). And there are no chemical or water inputs necessary (other than establishment necessities).

Mulberry trees are naturally tall for fruit trees, usually around 30 feet or more (for M.alba and M.alba x M.rubra hybrids). Given the standard size, if you were to prune heavily every year, you could probably fit 70 trees per acre (more like 40 trees per acre if you didn’t prune heavily). With Dr. Bullard’s dwarfing methods, you could likely plant 3-5 times that amount per acre. Which, just to throw it out there, would be an incredible set up not only for people wanting to sell mulberries, but also for pastured chicken or pastured pork operations (more about that later).

Alright, so what goes into Bullard’s dwarfing methods? Note: What I’m about to discuss is only an hypothesis. We don’t know what is actually going on, but this is our best guess. Well, we think the name of the game is incompatibility. If you study the history of apple rootstocks like I have, it’s only a matter of time until you start to come across accounts of rootstocks (aka, the roots to which you graft your cultivar/scion/variety) imparting various characteristics into the cultivar/variety (here’s a fun essay on the subject I wrote last December). Some characteristics include a change in flavor, tree size, fruit size, disease resistance, yields, and death, among other things. Some of these characteristics (like death) are deemed incompatibilities. Keep this in mind.

Alright, so what did A.J do?

He took Morus alba (white mulberry- brought over from Russia in the 1600’s for silk production) and to it, he grafted Morus rubra (red mulberry-our native mulberry) or a rubra x alba hybrid. He planted the grafted trees in pots and let the rubra send out a vigorous shoot. Then he tightly wrapped a copper wire just above the graft union and buried the whole tree, leaving a small amount above ground. What grew up from there became a dwarf mulberry tree. Across the boards. At one point in time, he had an orchard of around 150 cultivars and he employed this method to fit them all into his yard. If you look at the above picture, you’ll see other dwarfed mulberry trees- all different cultivars.

He put the trees on their own roots using a method very similar to the one I made up 2 years ago (which you can read about in this essay). That’s part of the reason why my mind was blown, because I’ve been down this rabbit hole before with apples; only with A.J I got a chance to see a glimpse of what the future could possibly look like for my experiments. And also, there are major agricultural implications for this (a later essay).

Why does it work? We’re not totally sure, but we both think it could be some form of incompatibility transferred from the M. alba into the M.rubra which imbedded itself into the scion/variety/cultivar by the time the rootstock/nurse root girdled off and the tree was on it’s own roots. That incompatibility caused dwarfing. If you look at the ground where tree hits soil, you’ll see a bulge. Perhaps that’s where the vigor went.

Anyways- this is all very exciting and details of all of this, including how exactly to do it (which I’m doing as we speak) will happen this year at the NAFEX annual meeting in Tifton, Georgia.

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I’m Hosting a FREE Workshop on How to Become a Guerrilla Grafter (aka, topworking)

Hi folks!

Do you want to learn how to take one of those invasive bradford pear trees the landscaper planted along your driveway and turn it into an Asian or European pear tree? How about turning your red delicious tree that you accidentally planted from Home Depot into a vibrant heirloom cultivar? Or change over a native persimmon tree seedling, or a Chinese chestnut, or a black walnut, or… you name it, really. Want to learn these skills for free in exchange for a few hours of sweat equity and camaraderie? Do I have the opportunity for youuuu!

APRIL 1st and 2nd (12:30-5ish) in Jefferson Maryland!!! Yes, I know that’s only 2 weeks away, but I was worried that my window for doing this wouldn’t be viable over those dates due to February’s summer temperatures. Fret not, we have plenty of time.  Come one, come all… learn the skills necessary to become true guerrilla grafters.

The PROJECT:   I will be hosting a Guerrilla Grafting party in order to convert as many bradford pears on our farm over to asian pears as possible within a 2 day period. Here’s a map for most of the trees:

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What will this event look like?

1.) You show up with friends, a grafting knife, a finer-toothed (pruning) saw, and clothes that can get some paint on them. A step ladder and hammer would also be good if you can bring them.

2.) I give you quality instruction and inspiration for guerrilla grafting. Then I pair you up and send you to a bradford pear sector to get your graft on.

3.) You leave with the skills and confidence necessary to guerrilla graft!

4.) A special bonus for helping- In 2018, I’ll supply you with moderate amounts of asian pear scionwood ($3.50/foot street value) to go off into the wild/suburbs/urban areas and turn bradford pears into asian pears.

INTERESTED? If so- fill out this google form.

Need a knife? Indicate on the google form (or email me) AND PAY for the knife via paypal on this blog and I’ll get you one for $15 bucks.

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The Ecosystem Orchard: A New Orchard Aesthetic

Excellent blog post by fellow apple grower Mike Biltonen of Know Your Roots!

The Ecosystem Orchard

For well over 100 years, orchardists and researchers alike have been striving for ways to make orchards more productive, efficient, and profitable. And while the story doesn’t begin with England’s East Malling and Long Ashton (EMLA) Research Stations, the modern chapters of dwarf fruit tree production certainly do. The East Malling research station was established in 1913 as a way to “study the problems which are met with in the actual culture of fruit trees and bushes.” Though not limited to development of dwarf rootstocks, its establishment launched the orchard world down a path that has resulted in smaller and smaller trees, planted in increasingly higher densities, requiring greater inputs of resources, pesticides, and money. And there is no doubt these technological advancements have led to greater productivity, cosmetic fruit quality, and profitability. But at the same time they’ve gutted the heart and soul from fruit orchards, reducing overall biodiversity…

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WOMEN NEEDED for March 4th & 5th Grafting Workshops- UPDATE to the UPDATE

THE MARCH 4TH AND 5TH CLASSES ARE FULL!!! HOWEVER….

The classes are man-heavy and I’d like to see more of a gender balance in these workshops. I’ve decided to enlarge each of these classes (March 4th and 5th) by 6 participants and those spots are only for women (or those who identify as women). What would it take to get you to this workshop (or future workshops), ladies? Whatever it will take to get you here, I want to know. Please fill out this form!

Say you bought an apple tree at Home Depot. It was a red delicious and you got one hell of a deal (maybe $10 dollars or so). You’re excited because the tree is cheap and soon you’ll have arm-fulls of apples from you own backyard.

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Well, this is all well and good until you taste these apples and find out what an awful mistake you made. Especially when you sneak over to your neighbor’s yard and try one of the apples off of their trees. You ask them what it is and they’ve forgotten, so you’re sad that you’ll never be able to buy another tree like it. You can either cry as you’re eating your gross red delicious apples, or rejoice because there is hope for you yet!

!!! I CAN TEACH YOU HOW TO TAKE A CUTTING OFF OF YOUR FAVORITE TREE AND MAKE YOUR OWN TREE FOR WAY LESS THAN WHAT HOME DEPOT CHARGES!!!

That’s basically what this workshop is all about. Sign up and I’ll not only teach you the nuts and bolts of grafting an apple tree for far less than $10, but you’ll go home with 2 trees.

With the skills I’m going to teach you, you will be able capture the fruit or ornamental qualities of whatever trees you desire and bring them to your own backyard or orchard. You’ve found a tree without any disease that tastes great? No problem! You will soon be able to propagate it. Whoa, look at that bloom! With my guidance you’ll know what to do in order to capture it…

Grafting is seriously one of the most empowering tools you can learn. I mean, it’s basically combining the thrill of creating a Frankenstein with the utility of being able to eat whatever fruit you damn well please from your backyard.

The cost of this workshop? $40 dollars.

What you’ll take home? A lifelong skill which will enable you to capture all the flavors you desire. Also you get 2 trees.

Where will it be held? Jefferson, MD

When will it be held? March 4th (sold out), March 5th from 1 to 4

And who will be leading it? Yours truly, Eliza A. Greenman. Monikers include: Elizapples or the Apple Queen (of Kyrgyzstan).

Sign up now! Spaces are limited!

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Old Orchard Restoration/Pruning 101 Workshop (note: it has been rescheduled for Jan 7th and 8th)

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January 7th & 8th, 2017: Apple Pruning 101 and Abandoned/Old Tree Restoration

*Notice! I have had to change the dates of this workshop due to agreeing to speak at the Horticultural Industries Show Conference in Arkansas. Sorry for the inconvenience!*

Location: Lovettsville, VA and Surrounding Areas
Click HERE to sign up!

This is a 2-day hands-on pruning intensive course which will cover everything you need to tackle an apple tree, young or old…kept or abandoned. Day 1 will cover the basics of pruning, from tree physiology to how to make a pruning cut to the considerations that go into making a cut. We’ll cover all sizes of apple trees from just planted to deer browsed to juvenile to mature trees. The day will end with participants breaking into supervised groups and working on trees. Day 2 will put into action all that we learned the day before, only this time we mean business. We’ll cover how to prune the big, burly, and the old. We’ll also cover top-working (changing a tree over to another variety) and the steps needing to be taken in order to graft a tree over to a new variety in spring. This class will be capped at 20 participants. Cost Per Person: 2 day workshop is $110, 1 day is $70.  Overnight lodging can be made available, ask for more details. In addition to money, work trade and barter are both acceptable means of payment.  CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!