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Brook Farm Orchard

Ashfield, Massachusetts

Alan Surprenant

Brook Farm Orchard
Alan Surprenant
Tell us about your growing philosophy.

Management practices are biodynamic and organic. Apples are sold as Eco-Grown. The use of Imidan (one application only) for curculio, ala the late Ron Prokopy, is my one concession to non-organic practices. I'm not happy with the results from Surround and its inherent problems in a rainy spring. On-going observations include the effect of Imidan usage on biodynamic practices. 

Tell us about your place on Earth.

Eastern slopes of the Berkshire Mountains in central New England. 100 tree fruit orchard includes 30 varieties of apples, 5 varieties of peaches, 5 varieties of plums, 3 varieties of Asian pears, and filberts. Planted in 1990, apples on Antonovka seedling rootstock. I grafted most of these trees in 1988. Zone 5 and getting warmer each winter.

What draws you to growing fruit?

Fruit trees are like long-time friends, always there when you need them ... especially when you give them a little attention! Growing fruit trees is like farming in the sky.  One looks up and sees many things my dirt farmer friends miss out on. The fruit tree lives both in the earth and in the air, spanning the soil level above and below. Many others like me are drawn to fruit growing for similar reasons. The trees bring us all together. A good thing. Is this inner druid enough?

What holistic innovation keeps your trees rarin' to grow?

Am working on controlling PC, CM, and AMF through the biodynamic processes of peppering. Success here will allow me to put the Imidan in the trash can (wrapped in its container, of course). Holistic orcharding is an idea whose time has come.

What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?

Grow less Golden Delicious and Galas. They are wonderful apples but a hard sell. Galas are particularly prone to scab in a wet spring under a sulphur spray program. I would plant more stone fruit to replace most of (but not all of) the summer apples.

How do you go about marketing the good fruit?

Fruit is sold through a weekly farmer's market in our town and a fruit CSA from the farm. Black Oxford heirloom apples (pictured above) are especially popular.

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