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grower profile:

High Meadow Farm

Hubbardston, Massachusetts

Jassy Bratko

Tell us about your growing philosophy

My orchard is certified organic by Baystate Organic Certifiers.

Tell us about your place on Earth.

I am located technically in Zone 5 but due to local elevation I feel we are more like Zone 4.  My orchard is 3/4 acre and consists of 20 9-year-old semidwarf disease resistant apple trees, 50 disease resistant high trellis apples on Bud 9 rootstock planted in 2012, about 30 old peach trees, 20 3-year-old peaches, half a dozen plums and a couple of pear trees.  I plan to plant another 100 trees on Bud 9 rootstock in 2013. 

What draws you to growing fruit?

My husband and I purchased a conventional orchard 15 years ago for reasons other than growing fruit.  After discovering the horrors of the chemicals required to maintain the orchard as it was we removed most of the trees to make way for hay.  I kept a small area aside with about 30 peach trees and the crazy idea of trying to grow organic apples. Everyone told me it couldn't be done but I have always been a rebel at heart and I set about trying to see if I could.  I have been on that mission ever since and have had some degree of success.  I decided to plant disease resistant trees as a way to increase my chances.  There is much room for improvement in my orchard but time is a great teacher and I hope my fruit production improves with every year. 

What holistic innovation most rocks your boat?

I follow Michael's orchard practices very closely.

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

I'm really excited about the high trellis system of growing.  Although my trellis trees are only one year old the system seems so easy to maintain, to spray, to prune, to clean that I would like to replace all my old trees. However, time may prove me wrong!

How do you go about marketing the good fruit?

I sell directly from a self-service, honor system stand at my home

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