Thursday, April 4, 2013

Building Unity Farm - Creating the Orchard

In March, I wrote about our planning for the Unity Farm orchard.

Just as with any IT project, we needed to create a charter (aims, success factors), a Gantt chart, project management, and a team structure to successfully "go live" with our orchard.

Our charter is simple - use 1 acre of our 15 acres for fruit and and nut trees in support of self sufficiency and local fruit production.   Success will be clearing the weeds, vines, and shrubby trees that constitute young forest on the disturbed land below our pasture, which was likely cleared 20 years ago as part of the original grading of the land.   This section of forest is our most challenging to manage and is the area responsible for the total body poison ivy experience I had last Summer.

The project plan involved a comprehensive survey and wetland border analysis (done by GLM Engineering Consultants), a review of the land management plan with the town of Sherborn, an orchard planting plan (done by Tree Specialists), a deer fence design (done by River Valley Fencing), a forestry management company for tree removal (Stumpy's), an irrigation company (Bourque Brothers), and a site preparation/excavation company (will be selected by the end of the week).

With all the plans and approvals in place, we began clearing forest on Monday.   As of today, the majority of the 1 acre is cleared of poplar and the thick underbrush that was choking new growth.    There were 5 oaks, which I saved for mushroom farm Shitake production.   This weekend, I'll cut the 3-6" branches into 220 four foot logs in 22 stacks.   I've ordered 60 pounds of sawdust spawn to inoculate the logs the weekend of May 11-12.

Here are pictures of the orchard area before and after the clearing.

Our next step is to  grind stumps, prepare the land by removing rocks/roots, add topsoil, plant the 30 trees, and spread the orchard grass/meadow seed mix which will prevent erosion and support pollinators.    Our bees arrive later this spring.

By mid-May the entire project will be done and the 8 foot deer fence will be up.   Yes, it will take years before our apples, pecans, chestnuts, and blueberries will be in full production, but the sooner we start, the sooner we'll be harvesting!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You and Kathy are as always, busy as bees. Speaking of bees, are you bringing in hives of honey bees or mason bees? With the honey bee issues around the country I am wondering what your take is on that? We are bring in mason bees for our tiny "orchard" as well as planting some early blooming flowers for the pear trees especially.