Thurid Clark has suggested we undertake planting apple trees in common areas of Lummi Island and, as a first step, will approach the Heritage Trust about doing this at the Curry Preserve. Other locations that we might ask to host trees: the church, the Grange, the store, the county parking lot, the library, Salvation Army camp, the condos. This could be expanded to include other kinds of fruit trees as well as nut trees and is a project that is being carried out in dozens of locations around the world. These trees could provide a source of food for years to come.
I’m going to try and help Thurid with this effort and we will need lots of volunteers, especially folks with some tree growing experience, though certainly not required. And, because of the cost of tree planting (which I’ll explain below, we’ll be looking for financial help as well).
Totnes, UK, where the Transition Town Movement originated has planted 170 trees since 2007. The Seattle, WA transition group has an active tree planting program. Auckland, NZ has an aggressive program. Tree planting is part of the overall food initiative of Transition Culture.
Typically, trees are planted in common areas and maintained by volunteers. In some places, each individual tree has a “guardian” assigned. Fruit and nut trees require quite a bit of care and attention. If vegetables are a romance, a fruit tree is a long term committed relationship.
Before planting our small personal orchard we took the workshops offered by Cloud Mountain Farm. Workshops are scheduled at Cloud Mountain again this winter and are very worthwhile:
Fruit Tree Workshops Date and Time
Growing Apples and Pears We will discuss planting, growing techniques, and pruning of apples & pears. Techniques will be covered for pruning newly planted trees to renovating older trees you’ve inherited.
Feb. 5 • 10:30-Noon
Feb. 12 • 10:30-Noon
March 12 • 10:30-Noon
Because of the voracious deer on Lummi Island young fruit trees must be protected. Raccoons will also be a problem. There are no doubt inexpensive ways to fence the trees. We probably did it the most expensive way possible. Serendipitously, while I was standing in front of the fencing at Lowe’s a couple winters ago a fellow walked up and told me exactly how to fence a fruit tree. At least he told me how he had been doing it for successfully for several years. He used 20′ of two by four inch wire fencing and four six foot metal stakes. The fencing is Zip tied to the stakes and a twelve inch gap is left at the bottom so one can weed whack underneath. This keeps the deer off the trees but won’t keep raccoons or other critters from stealing your fruit.
I documented our experience in a series of posts on the blog I keep for myself on our garden. I experimented with this idea gleaned from Backwoods Home Magazine (over Linda’s objection) It didn’t work. Don’t try it. The deer finally got hungry enough to walk across the fencing and that tree (now fenced) is a good year behind the others.
We finally finished it up. Five of the trees failed to make it through the winter due to freezing at the nursery and Cloud Mountain replaced them. Had to dig out the holes and replant them.
Everyone seems to agree that these days semi-dwarf trees are the best choice. Easier to prune, care for and pick. But semi-dwarfs have a shallow root system and in our windy clime must be staked which adds to the cost. So, if you buy a tree, stake and fence it each tree requires a fairly significant investment and if we had a lofty goal of several hundred trees we would be looking for 1) donations and 2) ways to keep the cost down.
Cloud Mountain Farms offers a newsletter service for around $40 a year where they tell you month by month what you need to be doing to care for your trees.