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.

Red Delicious.jpg

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!

grafting

HELP WANTED! Fruit exploring for Hopewell Nurseries

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I am soon to launch The Fruit Explorers (.com) webpage, which will exist to be a resource/hub for fruit exploring projects happening around the country. But for now, I am crowdsourcing help for a huge project to find the genetics from Hopewell Nurseries, a pre-Civil War nursery which sold thousands of fruit trees, grape vines and roses (many of which are extinct cultivars).

The ledger from this nursery has been discovered and dates from 1833 to 1860. This ledger contains the names of people who bought trees and often their addresses, which is an absolute gold mine for fruit preservationists/explorers because there may still be trees/vines standing on some of these properties. Many of the cultivars produced by this nursery are now thought to be extinct…so here’s our chance to try and find what’s left. But time’s a ticking! These trees will be well past maturity and the threat of development in this area is a daily pressure on the landscape. We need to create some awareness and get information ASAP in order to see if anything still exists.

We need the following for step 1:
-TELE-RESEARCH VOLUNTEERS. For those interested in volunteering, Eliza will hold a “google hangout” to explain how she uses the public domain (internet) to do fruit exploring research. A volunteer has already gone through the ledger and typed out 26 pages of names and we need to find what we can about these people. Where they lived, if they were members of horticultural societies, etc. You can do this from the comforts of your own home (or work). This is a massive undertaking that can only happen with the help of others. Once we get this information, we’ll all be able to start searching!

If you are interested, please leave a comment below! And check out the catalog for what Hopewell Nurseries once sold!
https://archive.org/details/catalogueoffruit1859hope

Some press from the NYFC (I’m featured on their blog)

Introducing Eliza Greenman, Owner/Operator of Legacy Fruit Trees in Virginia:

Eliza in winter attire

Up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, I am the owner of a small fruit tree company, Legacy Fruit Trees- where I specialize in custom grafting and growing hard cider apple varieties (for now). This year, my first year, I’ve pre-sold 4000 trees which I’ll graft, grow, dig and ship in the coming months. Two days a week, I manage Foggy Ridge Cider’s 18-year-old, 8 acre hard cider orchard which contains 40 varieties of apples noted by people like Thomas Jefferson for making the highest quality cider.

Every day of working in the orchards is a learning experience because each variety wants to grow differently. When I’m not grafting and growing trees for other people, I’m grafting and growing trees for my future fruit and nut orchards (4 acres this year, many acres to follow). I currently have a collection of 650 apple varieties and have plans to design and plant a commercial-scale fruit and nut forest using a diversity of apple genetics and native Appalachian species.

Last year I moved back to Virginia (my home state) to start my businesses and orchards after many years spent in Maine, where I developed my passion and purpose for growing fruit and nut trees. My interest started on a small apple-tree-covered island in Maine and expanded to include MOFGA’s Apprentice and Journeyperson programs, where I steeped myself in the culture of apples.

Foggy Ridge Orchards

After 6 years of immersion, incubation, management and experiments, I received an opportunity to move back to Virginia where I could pursue my life goals of unlocking the potential of old varieties and bringing heirloom fruits back to the general public.

Many of the fruits I associate myself with have genetic resistances and tolerances to diseases facing the East Coast (even the South) and they are also purposeful- contributing to the best fresh eating and value added products one could consume. Hard cider is a product I specialize in, but I can also recommend handfuls of varieties which will make the best apple pies, apple molasses, mince meat, apple sauce, dried apples, and many other products.

Future Orchard Site

In the next few years, my trees will start to produce and I look forward to having people try these exceptional varieties. Perhapsthey will like them so much that they will want a tree of that variety growing in their yard. And perhaps I can tell them how best that tree wants to be grown. Retelling history, preserving ancient genetics, producing high quality ingredients, and creating lasting relationships with our surroundings can all be brought about with an apple tree. And that’s why I love what I do.

via Introducing Eliza Greenman, Owner/Operator of Legacy Fruit Trees in Virginia : National Young Farmers Coalition.

so how did i become an apple farmer?

Many  of my ambitions at the age of 6 are still the ambitions I show today… To explore, climb trees, be fiercely independent (proving that girls can do anything boys can) and eat fruit. Though I have conceded to men being better at lifting heavy things, my life since the age of 6 has been a long and winding road guided by trees. I majored in forestry, traveled around the United States on behalf of different forest ecosystems, traveled abroad to Germany for trees, and at the age of 25, I landed on a small island off the coast of Maine. Trees got me there and that island is where I found my life-long passion: Apples.

If you know what to look for, you’ll see trees producing edible fruits and nuts all over the country. On this little island in Maine, apples were everywhere and easy to see because all of the other trees were  evergreens (spruce and fir for the most part). I didn’t think much of apples at the time, but when my friend Lindsay asked me if I knew how to prune an apple tree,  I decided that was something this tree nerd needed to know… so I found a wonderful man from the mainland to come and teach an apple tree pruning workshop to the islanders.

Up in an apple tree armed with a saw, loppers and basic knowledge, Apple tree pruningevery cell of my body suddenly knew this is what I was meant to do. I had found my calling.  I also found love in that apple tree (there was a really cute guy next to me), but I won’t get into that because it’s off topic and ultimately dramatic. My worlds of forestry and food had collided into one amazing package: the apple tree.

I asked people if I could prune their trees to learn. I collected apples off wild trees and pressed cider with my dear friends. I learned of known apple varieties on the island and asked the island elders what they used the apples for.  I watched youtube videos on how to bench graft and top graft apple trees and with almost no experience under my belt, I taught workshops. The fact that I taught workshops then is slightly terrifying in hindsight, but I embrace it today. I actually advocate it…just do it for free and be passionate about it.

After my two year fellowship on the island was up, I moved to New Zealand to avoid winter and managed (with that guy in the apple tree) a small permaculture farm with apples, olives, figs, feijoa, avocado and other trees. Though the wonderful Mediterranean micro-climate and figs are an attractive prospect, apples and Maine still won me over.  After 8 months in NZ, I returned to the States where I had an apprenticeship lined up through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) with the apple guy of Maine, John Bunker (and his wife, Cammy).

Though I didn’t learn much about apple orchard management with John, I did eat a LOT of different apples… Probably in the realm of 400 different varieties. This opened me up to a completely new world. I ate apples that tasted like a grapefruit spritzer, cherries, , licorice, coconut water, grapes and pina colada. Some with acidity that burned my tongue and others with no acidity at all. Some apples looked like potatoes (russets) while others had a skin so thin that just holding it would almost cause a bruise. Some apples had a red flesh inside, others yellow, white, nearly green and pink. Apples were useful, too! These old varieties were known for their products like molasses, pies, hard cider, sauce, mincemeat, dried apple rings, etc. The list could go on.

Wanting to continue down the road of heirlooms and explore a trade, I then apprenticed with Diane Flynt (owner) and Jocelyn Kuzelka (cider maker) of Foggy Ridge Cider over the winter (in my home state of Virginia). Diane has 35 or so varieties of heirloom apples on her farm which she includes in her blends to make award winning hard cider and I had to be a part of that, if only for a little while. So, I spent the winter pruning cider apple trees, becoming a cider snob, learning tricks for my home-brew batches, and also discovering that I don’t want to make cider for a living…I want to grow apples and be an orchardist!

I had an orchard management gig lined up in Maine that spring, so I IMG_0105left Foggy Ridge to join 96 year-old Francis Fenton of Sandy River Apples. Working and living with Francis Fenton, a war veteran, former custodian and second generation apple orchardist, was quite the experience. I could tell dozens of stories about our relationship and what it’s like to live, work and learn from a 96 year old, but that had better be saved for another entry. Francis’ Sandy River Apple orchard had a little more than 100 varieties planted on standard-sized trees in a willy-nilly fashion across 5 acres of land. It was beautiful, chaotic and a lot of hard work. I invested myself and pushed through the long and exerting work days knowing that an apple crop was coming. That made me happy and satisfied.

Many young farmers have an experience that nearly crushes their spirits and causes them to quit. This happened to me at Sandy River Apples.  Francis’ daughter came to town from her home in San Diego after months of me taking care of the orchard and, in a way, taking care of Francis. Despite my differences with Francis over his (illegal) chemical use and his constant mantra of “there’s no money in apples,” I loved Francis as a mentor and he loved me as his pupil.   His daughter saw my interactions with him as me disrupting his “twilight years,” and 3 weeks before the first apples were to ripen on the tree, she told me that I was no longer welcome (to put it nicely). After spending the last 5 months with Francis, investing myself in the apple crop to the point where I felt like those apples were reflections on my personal self, I was kicked off the orchard. With no earnings from the future harvest, no apples, and a lost identity, I was angry, poor,  and at the lowest point of my life. I was ready to walk away from it all.

For months, I lived in a depressed state of not knowing what to do with myself. My life didn’t have much meaning; How could something I love so dearly treat me this way?   Then Diane (Foggy Ridge), who at this point didn’t know anything about my situation and expected everything with me to be apple-y, reached out and invited me to an apple conference in New York which focused on cider.  I went and reconnected with a part of myself that I feared I had lost.

As it turns out, apples ARE a part of who I am and how dare I let anyone try and take that away from me! Nietzsche’s saying,”What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger,” is so true. I believe I’m more of a force now than I could ever have been had I not lived through that experience. Armed with a level of cautiousness that can only come about if one is severely burned, I’ve got skills, experience (good, bad and interesting), and a life fire that makes me who I am today, an apple farmer.

To fast forward, I moved back to Virginia last fall to become a full time presence at Foggy Ridge Cider. In addition to being the cider orchardist, I’m also a new business owner and beginning farmer. I’ve started fruit tree nursery called Legacy Fruit Trees and have plans for my own orchards to happen in the very near future.

This blog is about my experiences as an orchardist and a business owner. It’s about the balance between acquiring knowledge and diving in head first. I hope to share all of the good, bad, ugly and WTF moments of my experiences. Basically I want to share how I am(so far) making this work.