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soil building

Stewarding the holistic health of a community orchard

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In the past I’ve talked to quite a few orchardists and agroforestry practitioners, especially in the series on Reforestation and Agroforestry at the end of last season, but I was really glad to be introduced to Michael Phillips’ work by a great friend of the show, Nick from Minnesota. After speaking late last year with Stephan Sobkowiak, Nick recommended that I look into Michael’s incredible books for an even deeper dive into the soil health and biological spraying mixes that MIchael has developed to promote holistic health as he pioneers the revival of the community orchard. Michael Phillips is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant, and speaker who lives on Heartsong Farm in northern New Hampshire, where he and his family grow apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. He is also the author of The Apple Grower and The Holistic Orchard. His Lost Nation Orchard is part of the Holistic Orchard Network, and Michael also leads the community orchard movement at GrowOrganicApples.com. He was also honored by Slow Food USA to receive the first Betsy Lydon Ark Award in 2005 for his work promoting healthy ways to grow fruit.

In this interview we take a deeper look at what goes into growing healthy and delicious apples beyond what most people know about. Michael talks about the essential importance of diversity in a resilient orchard ecosystem and how it has to be balanced by what you need to make a profit at market. We also cover a wide range of practical advice from pollinator and pest management, biological mowing, as well as foliar sprays, shifting climate zones and much more. 

I get a real thrill from talking to people with such an obvious passion and love for what they do, and in Michael’s case that passion is coupled with a deep understanding and knowledge of the science behind the health of his plants and soil. I highly recommend this one to anyone looking to grow fruit trees, even if you’re not looking to take it all the way to a production scale. 

Resources:

GrowOrganicApples.com

Get the book The Holistic Orchard

Get the book The Apple Grower

Get the book Mycorrhizal Planet

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