Thursday, March 7, 2013

Building Unity Farm - Planting the Orchard

As Spring approaches, Kathy and I are diligently planning the fruits and vegetables of Unity farm. Our first year on the farm was about creating infrastructure and building the animal herds. Our second year will be about expanding the scope to include an extensive orchard, raised beds, a greenhouse, a hoop house/high tunnel, and mushroom farm.

We're working with the town of Sherborn on an overall land management plan, respecting all wetland borders, setbacks, and regulations.   They town already approved the cutting of poplars for the mushroom farm.

We've resurveyed the entire property and marked all wetland borders/buffer zones.  Our next step will be to clear brush and trees outside the borders and prepare the soil for planting the orchard, which is pictured above.

Under the trees, we're planting wildflowers for pollinators and orchard grass for erosion control.

We've avoided slope bottoms/valleys with cold sinks to minimize frost risk. We've created a border of blueberries and raspberries between the orchard and the forest.

The entire orchard will be surrounded by an 8 foot deer fence.   Deer pressure in Sherborn is very high and our neighboring orchard has just fenced 55 acres which means we'll have even more deer foraging on Unity Farm.

The tree clearing begins in the third week of March, to be followed by fencing and planting in April.      By Memorial Day the orchard should be finished.

Also before Memorial Day, I'll have completed the mushroom farm (72 towers of poplar for Oyster mushrooms and 220 oak logs for Shitake).  More details on that design next week.

This Summer we'll add a retaining wall and compost on the north border of our pasture to support the hoop house and greenhouse where we'll grow lettuces, spinach, kale, and root vegetables most of the year.

Last Summer we were still moving in.   The nights and weekends of this Summer will be a great opportunity to create the growing areas we'll be able to harvest for many years to come.


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