August 12-16, 2019
Faculty: Michael Phillips
Healthy fruit production is of great value to serious home gardeners and small-scale market growers, and especially those considering a community orchard venture. Growing fruit in all the places we live is an integral earth skill. This five day course presents a whole system-based approach for producing delicious, nutritionally dense fruit. You will learn the tricks of cultivating a thriving, diverse orchard that is naturally resilient to pests and disease and has beneficial fungal dynamics. We will cover how to improve the biology of the orchard and soil to support optimal production, developing an understanding of the mutual benefits of diverse orchard plantings, pollinators and beneficial insects, and soil fertility and microbiome. We will also learn to create natural sprays that boost plant immune response, explore the role of mycorrhizal fungi in supporting plant health and soil fertility, and receive instruction on techniques for managing and maintaining year-round orchards for optimal growth. Selecting varieties for climate, flavor, and marketability will be a focus, as will timing and methods of harvesting that capture sweet treats at their peak. Additionally, we will explore some of the value-added products made from apples that thrive in the Northeast and ways of marketing those products.
Classes will take place at Sterling College. There will be a full day field trip to Groveton, NH to visit Michael’s own Lost Nation Orchard where he has over 340 trees planted on his homestead including a newly installed cider orchard.
Level: 200 / CE Beginner – Intermediate
Prerequisites: In order to take full advantage of this course students should be well versed in fundamental plant biology of flowering trees, general pruning techniques along with basic knowledge of the pests and diseases that affect fruit trees. There are no formal prerequisites for this class.
Tuition & Fees: $900 covers the cost of the class, most course materials, and daily meals from our top-ranked Sterling Kitchen. Accommodations are not included in course pricing.
Housing Availability & Fees: On-campus housing is available for an additional fee of $60/night with a private bathroom and $50/night with shared bathrooms. Please note that Sterling College offers rustic/vintage/farmhouse style accommodations that are clean and safe but not luxurious. Availability is limited and room requests are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you prefer to stay off-campus please see our accommodations page for local recommendations.
Michael Phillips is a farmer, writer, carpenter, orchard consultant, and speaker who lives with his wife, Nancy, and daughter, Grace, on Heartsong Farm in northern New Hampshire, where they grow apples and a variety of medicinal herbs. His Lost Nation Orchard is part of the Holistic Orchard Network. Michael also leads the community orchard movement at www.GrowOrganicApples.com. Michael is the author of The Apple Grower (Chelsea Green Publications, 2005) and The Holistic Orchard (Chelsea Green Publications, 2011), and co-author with Nancy on The Herbalist’s Way (Chelsea Green Publications, 2005). His latest book, Mycorrhizal Planet: How Fungi and Plants Work Together to Create Dynamic Soils was published by Chelsea Green in February 2017.