Apple Branch Journal

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Apple Branch

Every spring when the apple trees bloom we need to remember that hope, too, begins anew. It is a natural process for a fruit tree to bear. Apples and other fruits have been grown without chemicals for centuries. Conventional chemical methods of orchardry have only been used during the past hundred years or so. Most orchardists will tell you that it is impossible to grow fruit without chemicals. Why do we look for only "perfect" fruit from our orchards...does this end justify the means of production? Before the age of chemicals yielded near-perfect fruit, most folks lived close to the land where a small home orchard was a part of their landscape and their economy. The prime quality fruit might be sent to market, but that portion of their crop that was imperfect went to sauce, cider, pies and such. Local economies were better at providing an accessible market for the small farmer.

Fruit from these farmsteads of a century ago would not meet today's standards, people accepted nature's offerings beneath minor surface blemishes. As we try to make sense of our own specialized, high-tech society it is not easy to see how a humanistic approach can be applied to orchardry and agriculture. Such an approach would demand of us a depth of understanding within the orchard ecosystem. Each of us share in the lasting success of agriculture. Making agriculture sustainable is as much the responsibility of the consumer as it is the grower's. The revival of small farms is intimately linked to any sustainable food system.

(much of this text has been extracted from The Apple Grower, by Michael Phillips, Chelsea Green Publishing)

artwork by Bente King ©2002
 

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