From one end of The Valley to the other, this year’s apple crop is shaping up to be a bumper one including at Mad River Valley Community Orchard at Flemer Field in Waitsfield.
The community orchard, planted in August 2010, has been carefully nurtured along by volunteers since it was planted and the community is now invited to reap the benefits of that work. There are 60 fruit trees, currently bearing apples and pears in dozens of varieties. The orchard was created in the seven-acre Flemer Field which was donated to the town of Waitsfield by Leslie Flemer. The orchard is located at the back (west) side of the field and the field remains open for recreation and polo.
According to Ben Falk of Whole Systems Design in Moretown, the varieties include Fameuse, Red Astrachan, Macoun, Bethel, Liberty, Freedom, Lobo, Anoka, Lodi, Whitney, Honeycrisp, Jordan Russet, Parkland, Novamac, Dudley Winter, Leo, Wealthy, Cortland, Nova Easygro, Northern Spy, Sweet 16, Red Baron, Hazen Burgundy, Gravenstein, Williams’ Pride, Haralson, Duchess of Oldenburg, Wolf River as well as Luscious, Summercrisp and Gourmet pears.
Whole Systems Design, LLC donated a site plan and planting protocol for the orchard and helped plant it along with many other volunteers in August 2010. The Mad River Valley Orchard project was made possible by a Communities Take Root grant from the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (FTPF) and Edy’s Fruit Bars. The Mad River Valley Orchard proposal was selected by citizens via an online voting competition which allowed organizers to purchase the trees.
The original community orchard grant application envisioned planting fruit trees, berry bushes (blueberries, elderberries and raspberries) as well as nut trees of some type, but instead 60 apple and pear trees were planted, according to Joshua Schwartz, executive director of the Mad River Valley Planning District. The planning district helped shepherd the project through and Schwartz is one of the volunteers who has coordinated with Falk, Ed Read of the former Mad River Garden Center (now Mad River Property Management), former select board member and community volunteer Charlie Hosford, the Mad River Valley Rotary and other volunteers to mulch, prune and protect the trees from deer and weather.
“It’s a great public-private collaboration in our community that shows what long-term, community food security will look like,” Schwartz said.
“Come taste the diversity of flavors and texture of a couple dozen different heirloom apple and pear varieties and revel in the botanical history of our New England apple heritage and bounty,” Falk said this week in a social media post.