Retro Fitting an Existing Orchard

Project Overview

FS16-287
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $9,837.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Summary:

In consideration of profitability per square foot coupled with late frosts killing our fruit blooms, we wanted to take advantage of the potential growing space in between our fruit trees for additional berry bushes, herbs and annual crops.  This polyculture growing approach, in addition to increasing our bottom line profitability, created a healthy soil, eliminated the need for pesticides (plenty of insectary plants including within the orchard), stopped the need for mass mowing and removed the nutrient competition of grass surrounding our trees.  

These planting beds were installed for permanency aka no future tillage.  Although the initial installation was intensive in regards to labor, time and money it is done….forever.  We planted approx 30% of the new growing space with perennial pollinators, a vast variety of berry bushes and perennial herbs.  The beauty of this approach was apparent to preparation for 2017 crop planting. 

As the season progressed and the beds settled in our harvests increased greatly.  In comparison to 2015 harvests of annual seasonal veggies, this new area’s productivity is notable and reflected in the excel of our sales.

We have expanded this approach to another young orchard which is already producing beautiful peas, strawberries and perennial herbs.   

Main Orchard, Oct 2016       

Introduction

We are a certified Organic and biodynamic farm in southern VA.  The past many years, because of late frost, we always lose some fruits. We also wanted to expand our annual veggie production and this area made the most sense to cultivate because the many benefits to the soil and the trees.

Project objectives:

Our objectives were multiple:

  1. Increase profitability per square foot
  2. Create polyculture of plants to enhance soil health
  3. Create a polyculture of plants to increase beneficial bug population, thus minimizing/eliminating the need for additives of fertilizer and pesticides
  4. Increase variety of crops to eliminate financial risk due to single crop failure especially with the regularity of late frost eliminating fruit crop productivity
  5. Crickets-Cove-Sales 
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.