- Fruits: apples, general tree fruits
- Crop Production: agroforestry
- Education and Training: extension
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, genetic resistance, weather monitoring
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, social networks, sustainability measures
This project will investigate southern Appalachian apple orchardist's perceptions of and experiences with climate change in order to better understand the local climactic changes they observe and how they respond to these changes. Research into how agricultural systems adapt to their changing climate is growing increasingly important as global population levels continue to rise and climate fluctuations grow increasingly erratic. A large amount of research in this area has focused on farmers of short-lived annual crops that are planted and harvested in the same year, and while beneficial, the scope of such research is somewhat limited. An inquiry into the management decisions of an apple orchardist will provide a longitudinal record of adaptation to climate change due to the longevity of the life cycles of trees and also their sensitivity to changes in the environment. The research site in western North Carolina contains more documented apple varieties than anywhere else in North America and is home to some of the oldest managed apple orchards in the US, making an investigation of these orchard managers' decision making processes beneficial for a better understanding of climate change and its effects on apple diversity, and ultimately increasing the sustainability of the systems by better understanding successful best management practices.
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Determine what climactic changes orchard managers have observed and experienced, and what changes they anticipate for the future.
2. Determine what strategies orchard managers are using in response to these observations, and evaluate the effects these changes have on the orchard systems and local apple diversity.