The plans for a fruit orchard began mulling around in Steve’s head almost as soon as we bought the farm property in 2007. As he made his way through the multitude of necessary improvements on a new piece of property, the idea of an orchard stayed with him. So in 2011 after much planning and soil preparation, 28 apple trees were planted. Since then, 2 pears, 2 cherries, and 3 figs, have been added. Looking at the trees soon after we had planted them, they certainly looked small, but we trusted that with proper care and a little time, they would grow. As we compare our memory of them then to what has become of them now, we are amazed at the amount of growth that has taken place in two short years. Those slight trees that barely had leaves to speak of are now ready to be pruned for the first time.
Steve read a good bit about pruning, and he consulted with a friend in the landscaping business. He learned that there’s a pretty specific process involved when it comes to pruning, and it requires making some drastic cuts of some limbs. After gathering all the information that he could, Steve began the pruning process in our orchard. As he came to each tree, he would carefully study the tree, paying close attention to the angles of the limbs and the direction of their growth before he made each cut. The whole process required careful consideration, and when it was all said and done, he had pruned back all the limbs that needed to go.
This reminds me of when our boys were young, and we would go to see Harold, the barber. Nearly everyone who had walked the streets of downtown Chattanooga had either met or heard of Harold. I’m sure he must have been working on his 3rd generation of customers when our boys came along. To our sons’ delight, they would climb into the big chair and be lifted to see themselves in the huge wall mirror. Then they would take turns to get a “buzz cut” for the summer. As the hair fell to the floor and the bristly, blunt haircut emerged, so did a more interior change. The new cut seemed to give them a sense of freedom that manifested in smiles that were brighter and a bounce that was lighter. It was more than a shedding of hair; it was a sense of new things to come- summer camp and fishing and swimming in the lake. It’s as if they knew they were being pruned for a season of growing! Our sons are grown now, and their haircuts (or lack of haircuts!) are as different as they are. They are all strong young men who have made us proud each in his own way.
So, how does this remind me of pruning trees? Well, the way I see it, as beautiful as all those branches on the trees were, they were not ultimately serving the purpose of creating a strong tree for generations to come. Some parts just had to go in order to make way for stronger branches. While the pruned trees may look a bit stark on a winter day, we understand that the purpose is to create the strength within. We are imagining how beautiful the trees will look as they bud leaves and flowers this spring. It takes courage to prune and patience to grow an orchard. When we planted it, we knew it would be a lifetime venture, and that it would be full of faith and growth, just like raising our sons. The reward of growing an orchard is long-lived: with continued love and careful pruning, a healthy orchard can produce apples for 30-75 years (sometimes even longer)! We hope to enjoy and share with you our first crop in 2014.
The orchard, like everything we choose to do at the farm, is with the intention to take care of the earth and to provide the healthiest food for our family and our customers. We choose to farm in a sustainable way so that the soil can continue to produce nutrient rich fruits, vegetables, grains, and gorgeous flowers.
In 2012, we started our first Community Supported Agriculture with 5 members. It was extremely rewarding to feed these 5 families and to hear the various exclaims over what they received in their bucket each week. One young couple shared their love of cooking together and awed us with their creativity in the kitchen. Another family loved sharing their goods with a neighbor. All appreciated eating the healthiest, seasonal food available!
We are happy to say, because we love growing food to share with our community, we are expanding our CSA to include 5 additional families. It may not seem like a lot, but like I said, we are in it for the joy of taking care of the land and serving a few families at a time. Besides, it is just the 2 of us and we want to continue to enjoy what we do!
We expect the 10 memberships to fill quickly, so if you think you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a facebook message, and we will send you an application. You can check out our website www.risingfawngardens.com, as well as previous blog entries below, for photos of CSA buckets and farm-life!
Here’s to another year of joy, work, and healthy eating!