Our property is 95% forested. It looks nothing like a conventional orchard and that's the plan. But how did we come to this conclusion and what is an orchard forest? Rather than over-riding the landscape with our hopes for an orchard we simply shifted focus onto learning about what is already there. For us, the land was forested and so before studying apples, I studied forestry. While doing this I discovered apple trees already there in the forests. Curiosity for these trees, the desire to make cider, and one thing leading to the other, we inadvertently found our relationship to the land. That's the goal isn't it?
For our farm in Wurtsboro, NY a holistic vision means dissolving borders that are usually segregated in zoning offices as residential, agricultural, commercial, and protected woodland. Combine those functions with the personal goals of historic preservation, aesthetic criteria, spiritual fulfillment, and the promotion of human health (ours and everyone.) Yes, at first it did seem impossible to truly create such a place, especially when commercial and agricultural functions would appear to conflict with aesthetic and natural preservation functions, but it was a challenge that we blindly (or just naively) accepted.
Without further ado, let's talk Forest Orcharding...
OK, maybe I'm not ready to cover this huge topic right now, maybe in 2015 I'll have time. There is too much to say on this subject so I think I need to comprise a strategy first. Maybe I'll write a book.
(2007 UPDATE: I'm writing the book. I spent 2 months organizing hundreds and hundreds of journal posts and it's taking shape...)