Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
On April 12, 2014, volunteers are welcome to help MOFGA plant the first heritage apple and pear trees as well as hundreds of companion plants at the Maine Heritage Orchard in Unity. Illustration by John Bunker.
Some of the companion plants that will benefit the Maine Heritage Orchard. Illustration by Lauren Cormier.

By John Bunker

The first year of the Maine Heritage Orchard (MeHO) was a big success. In August 2013 we did major earth work in MOFGA’s 10-acre gravel pit site. We reduced the slope of the steepest parts of the pit and created rock-lined spillways to divert excess water and reduce erosion. We reconfigured about 2 acres into terraces that will be home to the first 100 apple and pear trees. Each terrace features a 2-foot-deep trench (or “swale”) filled with wood chips, designed to catch, absorb and disperse water into the huge growing beds that curve with the contour of the hillside. It’s a little like the mountainsides of Peru or Viet Nam right here in Maine.

We held three well attended workdays, with dozens of volunteers laying out the terraces in August, fertilizing them in October, and digging young trees for winter storage in November. The volunteer days turned out to be part orcharding class, part work and a lot of fun. It’s amazing what a bunch of people can pull off in a few hours.

On April 12, 2014, we will plant the first 100 apple and pear trees as well as hundreds of companion plants around the fruit trees that same day. These companions have been selected to improve the soil, attract and create habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects and more. Our goal is to create a true polyculture/permaculture landscape while protecting hundreds of heritage varieties. We hope for a big crowd on April 12. Experienced orchardists will be on hand to give tree planting lessons for the whole family. We hope to see you there, and we hope you’ll bring your friends and kids. It should be a fantastic day.

You can be involved in the MeHO in many ways. We’d love to see you at one of the several regular events we’ll have this year and every year for a long time to come. You can purchase a duplicate of one of our heritage trees to plant in your yard as part of our orchard steward program (see You can join the MeHO committee. And, of course, we welcome your donations. For more information about the orchard and how you can be involved, please visit or write to us at Thank you for your support and involvement!