An orchard is a wonderful asset for any farm. Whether grown for the family homestead or to sell fruit, orchards provide a variety of benefits big and small.
At the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) campus in Unity, nearly 2 acres of the Common Ground Country Fair’s permanent site is an experimental orchard. Another quarter acre or so is a tree nursery. Both sites act as test plots for soil amendments, cover crops, rootstocks, and trialing new and old fruit cultivars.
MOFGA is also home to the Maine Heritage Orchard, a 10-acre educational preservation orchard. The orchard is already home to over 300 varieties of apples, plus some pears, traditionally grown in Maine — and more are being added each year. The Maine Heritage Orchard collection includes varieties from all 16 counties in Maine, dating back as far as 1630. Until recently, many of them had been on the verge of extinction.
Whether you want to plant two trees or two thousand(!), here’s a guide on how start an orchard. Read on to find out where, when and how to plant an orchard, and how to care for it in the long term.