I grew up knowing what it is to pick fruit from a tree, to eat food from the garden. I knew one particular fruit tree intimately. As part of a sweat equity program for low-income families my father did the landscaping for what would be our new home. He tucked fruit trees and edible plants into what looked, to the average eye, to be a tidy and semi-formal landscape. He placed a apricot tree near our front door, a fig tree over here, and a guava hedge over there. Healthy treats for all of us "complex kids" -- ready-made snacks as we played in the shared grassy area and road our bikes and scooters in the parking lot. That's us in the photo below, the "complex kids", celebrating my birthday with the apricot tree in the background.
My father taught me what it is to know a fruit tree -- it's character, it's cycles, and it's ability to provide.
When I began to pursue formal and hands-on education in fruit tree care as an adult, some of my 'tree speak' and childlike curiosity had vanished. In it's place was self doubt and reluctancy. I didn't entirely trust myself. I had forgotten something fundamental -- that we all know trees deep down in our roots. It's my personal belief that trees are with us in the highest places of our most intuitive selves -- they are our kin. This isn't to say that scientific and technical knowledge isn't incredibly helpful in caring for fruit trees, it certainly is. Though, it's also helpful to remember that humans have been harvesting and tending to fruit trees for thousands of years. There are additional lenses that can guide our deep understanding of trees - intuitive, creative, and observational lenses that can also serve us. More often than not, my students and clients have an amazing 'sense' for fruit trees. It typically doesn't take much to get folks reacquainted to their 'tree speak' and on a good path to caring for their own trees long term.
While there are some really fantastic fruit tree care and pruning books out there, I learned the most of what I know out in the field. In fact, the hands on learning was actually what made the scientific and technical information more accessible to me. Now I enjoy coaching and teaching fruit tree care in this same holistic way -- out in the field, with the trees, the people AND the science.
It's for these reasons that I offer Fruit Tree Pruning & Care Coaching sessions through Garden Ecology.
During fruit tree coaching sessions I can cover any or all of the basics; tools & hygiene, why we prune, summer vs. winter pruning, tree types and shapes, the three D's, heading vs. thinning cuts, mulch matters, watering, and holistic pest & disease management. I work on the trees, pruning and caring for them, while sharing tips and knowledge with you. You can be as hands on or hands off as you like.
During these coaching sessions we go at your pace -- you get your questions answered in a site-specific and 1:1 learning environment. We get to cover what it's going to take to care for your specific tree(s), approaching each tree as the unique individual and adapting to how you learn best. It's really a good time!
And even now my father and I share this love of fruit trees. In the above photo, he's spotting a volunteer on a ladder at one of my pruning workshops held at Village Garden's, Fruits of Diversity Community Orchard as part of Portland Fruit Tree Project's Community Orchards program here in PDX.
Caring for fruit trees is so incredibly rewarding. Experiencing the tree's cycles and harvesting the fruit is one of life's invaluable gifts. For me, harvesting fruit is grounding and uplifting in a way that connects me to nature's ability to provide and nourish. It's a feeling I had sorely missed in my modern, urban life.
To know a fruit tree is, to some degree, to be tied to the cycles and rhythms of this land. Caring for fruit trees can connect us to the power of nature as well as our intuitive and creative selves. With fruit trees, our 'tree speak' and our childlike curiosity can be born again. It's an honor to contribute to this journey in anyway I can -- a journey that each and every one of us can take on our path to better knowing a fruit tree. So, here's to our roots! May they continue to guide us as we traverse this thing called life.