WWOOFers at Leafhopper Farm have been working hard to plant our new orchard in the swale system in zone 1 of our permaculture plan. After sinking the trees, deer arrived on the scene so every tree was then fenced for protection. We cannot afford risking the orchard in its infancy, and even with the new perimeter fence going up, the protection is not yet complete, and deer are ravenous for new young growth on easily reachable plants.
Leafhopper Farm will be hosting a “Young Trees” workshop on March 23rd, 10am-2pm. If you are interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. We’ll be looking at several different ways to defend young trees from deer, livestock, and rodents. The workshop will cover planting young trees for success, protecting them while they establish, and the plan for long term care to allow a tree its full potential on the landscape.
Mom’s Orchard came about when Mom was with me on a visit, and we found a nice price on young fruit trees while out shopping. She offered to pay for a bulk buy and I jumped at the chance to get an orchard in one go. Thank you so much Mom! This farm would not be possible without the support of family, and their love. The orchard will be a long standing growth of that love and support, and I already love looking out the window every morning to see it and the joy it brings me in thinking about my Mother.
This connection to place is an important founding principle of Leafhopper Farm; cultivating a sense of connection to the ground that feeds us. The orchard is a step towards long term food security on the farm and surrounding neighborhood. A sense of family ties and lineage through my maternal line roots me to this place like the young trees establishing in the swales; to know that in just a few years, we’ll be enjoying sweet apples and cherries, pears, and plumbs, brings delight.
Seeing the trees in, and the cistern filling for summer watering makes me feel so good. We’ve finally got our drought resiliency system started. With a 20,000 gallon tank to flood irrigate, our trees will thrive and grow, establishing a canopy over the pasture. The trees are spaced to allow an under-story of other cultivated plants to also take root. We’ve planted silverweed, a good native ground cover (also food and medicine), and as the trees mature, shade loving companion plants can be added.
Once the ground covers, under-story, and canopy are established, the soil should retain moisture well enough to cut back watering almost entirely. That’s our goal in creating a forest, though its primary focus for us humans is food, for the landscape, its restoration and resiliency. The last two days of winter were record breaking in Seattle. We reached 79F on March 18-19th, far above the average 64F. This summer will test our ability to keep the gardens and orchards alive, not to mention the young oak grove, back field chestnuts, and other young growth established here at Leafhopper Farm.