The Yen of Apple Growing

I had no idea growing up that I wanted to farm for a living. As a product of suburbia, farming was just about the furthest thing from my mind. I had some idea of what farming was all about, but basically I just liked the outdoors. Then in the Spring of 1984, I took a job as a field hand at one of Virginia’s oldest & largest orchards. With nearly 1500 acres of apples and peaches to tend to, it quickly became the hardest job I ever loved. And I never looked back.

These days, opportunities like mine are rare to find, especially without a complete lifestyle change. Yet more and more folks are interested in how their food is grown; by whom; & where. This season, I came up with an idea that would give people the opportunity to try out the farming lifestyle without actually giving up the lives they had chosen. Over the course of six weekends spanning the year and within the coziness of one of the Hudson Valley’s finest orchards, you can work side by wide with me to learn the basics of apple growing. Everyone would learn about the ecology of orchards, practice the art & science of pomology, grow & then harvest their very own apples.

The workshops begin in February with some classroom prep. In early Spring we set out to begin growing some apples. Each attendee will be “given” 10 trees to nurture and practice on throughout the year. (Don’t worry we’ll take care of them while you’re away.) Over the next nine months, you’ll learn how to prune, fertilize, deal with insects and diseases, determine apple ripeness, and then how to pick and store your own crop of apples. At the end of the course—and at times in between—we’ll enjoy the bounty of the season as we get to know each other and the orchard. Each workshop session has something special planned—like a cooking or processing class—to enhance the experience.

Although I have two degrees in horticulture, I am really just someone who really loves apples, and want to help you in the Yen of Apple Growing. If you have ever thought about growing apples in your backyard or even starting a small orchard, then this workshop is a great place to start.

So if you’re interested in the workshop, please call or email me ASAP.


About Farmer Mike Biltonen

Mike Biltonen is lifelong farmer with a passion for great tasting, sustainably grown food. He also has an opinion and this blog is his soapbox. But mostly he just likes to farm. Enjoy!
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