Tell us about your growing philosophy
Hemlock Grove Farm is a certified organic orchard run by Jenny and Brian Caldwell. We love to grow beautiful, tasty, healthy fruit.
Tell us about your place on Earth.
We are in zone 5. We have two orchard sites, one on a hill with poor soil and one in a valley frost pocket with good soil. The hill site produces much more reliable crops. We use large semidwarf rootstocks, mostly MM11. We like how they can easily handle grass competition.
What draws you to growing fruit?
I (Brian) just enjoy being around trees and growing them. At our farm we have plantings of chestnuts, hazelnuts, and persimmons and about 80 acres of forest.
innovation most rocks your boat?
We believe that certified organic production is the most powerful mutual approach to good farm stewardship at this time. Within this, we can and must do better than 'substitution' organics, and that is where the Holistic Core Values take us.
How has an ecosystem approach changed your tree reality for the better?
Managing our understory for lots of flowering broadleaf 'weeds' such as mints, Queen Anne's lace, clovers, etc. seems to help quite a bit with insect pests. We do this by waiting until late May for the first orchard mowing, which is done with a sickle bar mower. This practice encourages regrowth of broadleafs.
What might you change if you could do one thing over again in your orchard?
Plant less Golden Delicious and Idared, more Honeycrisp, Akane (that brilliant red apple pictured above), Sweet 16, and Melrose.
How do you go about marketing the good fruit?
We sell at our local Greenstar Cooperative Market, to friends, and have an apple CSA.