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grower profile:

Kretschmann Farm

Rochester, Pennsylvania

Don Kretschmann

Kretschmann Farm
Don Kretschmann
Tell us about your growing philosophy.

I believe in no magic formulas, just encourage life everywhere I can.  Fertilize most heavily with the farmers footsteps.  Keep things diverse and simple.  Learn from nature.  Be humble enough to change.  With life as the focus and nature as the teacher, one always looks first to biological and ecological principles and solutions to problems in growing fruit. 

Tell us about your place on Earth.

We have about 2.5 A of apples, a row or so of pears, and a few cherrys.  Apples are all scab resistant or immune cultivars.  Block 1 is on M.7, planted in 1985 (Prima, Jonafree, Liberty, Priscilla)  Block 2 is mostly M.7, some MM.111 (Liberty, Priscilla, Jonafree, Pristine, Goldrush, Williams Pride, Redfree), Block 3 is trelised mostly on G.16, some G.11, G.30, M.26 (Goldrush, Pristine, Williams Pride, Dayton, Enterprise)  We've always grown organically, certified since 1990.

What draws you to growing fruit?

It's the prince of agricultural enterprises, the original permaculture.  The bulk of our farm is devoted to growing organic vegetables.  After being bent over doing veggies, it's great to straighten up and pick apples.  Like becoming a free man, after slavery.  You look up at the sky and know something lies beyond, there's greater things.   In the winter, the pruning is a great time for musing, spiritual growth, and dreams. 

What holistic innovation keeps your trees rarin' to grow?

A righteous starting point. 

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

Plant trees farther apart.  Prune more aggessively (or let my neighbor do it :)).  Innoculate with mycorrhizae.

How do you go about marketing the good fruit?

Through our CSA, and cider for the seconds.  Let people know the challenge of growing organic fruit.  Also train them to use knives to pare apples.  Generally, there are far more acceptable apples than anyone would ever imagine as long as people know how to use them.  I'm always excited about my apples and pass that on often throughout the growing season.  Still trying to figure out how to get customers to the orchard to experience the most magical time in the whole year--full bloom.

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