our orchard blog
We have to not except any more Fruit Share customers for this year. Because for the frost event we suffered our fruit is very limited this season. Please check back next year. Your support of our Indigogo campaign to raise money for an up dated frost protection system is needed go here Indigogo to learn more and help us out.
We want you to know, two weeks ago, a cold front moved through the North West US, temperatures dipped well into the low twenties. This hard frost killed 90 % of our crop of apricots, peaches and plums. These events equities to a loss of more than 70% of our total yearly harvest. We will be able to meet our CSA fruit share obligations for 2013 but its looking like we won't have any fruit to sell at markets until the apples and pears are harvested. The crop insurance that is offered to small organic farms pays only a small percentage based on conventional pricing. Although Linda and I fought this frost with our wind machine, propane heaters, smudge pots, wood fired heaters, and sprinklers, nightly our frost protection equipment was just not enough for such a long and untimely cold. We used hundreds of gallons of propane and diesel fuel. This is a sobering event and threatens our farm livelihood.
This experience instantly reminds us of how many people rely on our fruit harvest, we are not only the sole organic orchard in Baker County we are the only organic orchard from La Grande to Boise. Over 1000 families a week receive our fruit from CSAs, Farmers Markets, stores and restaurants. It is also served in local schools to our children, and donated to senior centers. Our loss also effects our thinning and picking crew, the low harvest means we won't be able to hire 6 out of our 10 local people we normally hire.
Up until this spring, our frost protection equipment has been enough to handle the weather, as we are now seeing global changes, wild swings in weather are occurring. Linda and I worry that we could lose the ability to farm this orchard if we experience another killing frost next year. We are asking for help to upgrade and increase our frost protection equipment so that we can continue growing organic nutrient dense fruit with sustainable and holistic care of the land.
We are planning a fundraiser and are working out the details of how we can do this. Maybe an internet campaign like Indiegogo, or Kickstarter but as we are farmers and not social net workers, this is a learning curve for us. We will announce something soon..
We're all in bloom now, lots of flowers, very delicate flowers. The flowers become the sweet fruit you all love, we protect those flowers by keeping them warm. Some of the ways we use to keep them warm are forced air heaters, wood fired heaters, oil fired heaters, an Orchard Rite wind machine (large fan on a tower) and sprinklers under the trees. This last technique makes a lot of ice, it's the forming of the ice that does the warming. As water freezes it releases BTU's and those BTU's warm the trees. Your science lesson for the day!
The apricots are developing fast now, all this warm weather has real got them going. It's got everything going, all the different fruit trees are really pushing there buds. We've been busy with spring projects, finished pruning, ground up the cuttings so they can go back into the soil, planted so new trees a task we do every year to keep the orchard vital and pruned the large willow hedge on the west end of the orchard. That last project gave us a lot of brush so we used a large chipper and chipped it all. We just spread the last of those chip around all our newly planted fruit trees, even had enough to mulch a flower bed. The more woody debris we have on the orchard floor the better as the orchard is a forest and needs that woody duff layer. Check out our Facebook page to see some new photos here.