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Starting an Orchard in Vermont, Part One: Buying Fruit Trees at Elmore Roots Nursery

by Tyler

We officially started homesteading in January of 2013. Ever since, the topic of planting fruit trees has come up at least once or twice every season. Each time, overwhelmed by the projects before us, we've pushed the undertaking into an unknown future. Maybe when the foundation of our cottage is done? Once the roof is on the frame? When the walls are complete? After the interior is finished?

In this way, years passed and nary a tree was planted. To be fair, it was likely the right decision, not taking on the responsibility of caring for another living thing. We've been so focused on surviving these last few years that it probably would have been too much to handle. Nevertheless, the rapidity with which years pass remains ever present to me.

On good days, this awareness takes the form of a dim but vigilant beacon in the darkness, calling me to action, reminding me that'll be dead soon enough. On bad days, I experience it as blinding spotlight with unwavering focus, illuminating my mortality, screaming that I'm not doing enough. So, when Tara planned a three-day mini-vacation that included purchasing our first fruit trees from an organic orchard in the Northeast Kingdom she had decided was "The One," I was ready to seize the moment.

As soon as we arrived at Elmore Roots Nursery, a veritable fairyland of organic fruit growing, I knew it was time to act. Our plan of starting small with a pear and an apple or two, under the assumption we'd come back "soon" when we wanted to expand the size of our first orchard, was no longer an option. How many years could easily slip away before "soon" came along? Now was our time.

Elmore Roots Nursery

And so, as David, the kind and gentle tree-spirit-like-soul who created this place, took us on a lengthy tour and showed us all of the varieties he grows (specifically to be hearty enough to flourish in northern Vermont's long, cold winters), we marked tree after tree with bright blue tape, reserving it as ours. The sudden fruit-filled shopping spree was glorious.

David at Elmore Roots Nursery Tagging Tree Blueberries at Elmore Roots Nursery

As Tara and I told David what we liked, tasted various fruits, and listened to his poetic descriptions, we let him guide us in our choices. I've learned over the years that only so much knowledge can be gleaned by endlessly sifting through websites, forums, and competing opinions online. Instead, I've found it works best to pick someone I trust, and do what they say until I have enough experience to form opinions of my own. For fruit trees and orcharding, David's now our guy.

Plum at Elmore Roots Nursery David Smelling Plum at Elmore Roots Nursery

What David has created over the last thirty five years is truly astonishing. I hope our place is half as magical by the time we're in our sixties! Thank you, David, for sharing your world with us.

David at Elmore Roots Nursery

Tara and I came away from our Elmore Roots shopping spree with no fewer than eighteen trees, including various varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries, and peaches. Our dear neighbors will keep them alive while we're gone to the midwest for two weeks (THANK YOU!), and then it will be time to plant our orchard. I couldn't be happier that this part of our homesteading adventure has finally begun.

Fourteen Fruit Trees in Truckbed


Hi Guys,
I have been following you since the bike adventure days. I retired last year and my wife and I bought 23+ acres in the coast range 25 miles west of Corvallis Oregon, outside the town of Alsea. There was a huge house (1900 sq. ft.) that was completed to the shell stage and abandoned. I spent the last year bringing it to completion. It was far bigger than I could ever want but the land was the thing that cinched the deal. We have about 10 acres in Doug Fir about 70 years old (never to be cut) and 13 acres in pasture, ancient Oaks and 20+ fruit trees scattered about (apple, pear, fig, plum, walnut, etc??). I am just now thinking of planting an orchard too. The "" might interest you.
Keep up the great blog.
Posted by Allen J Thoma on September 14th, 2015 at 3:35 PM
I'm happy to see you posting again, and I also hope you post more often. Have you seen the River Cottage series? I just watched an episode about him planting his orchard yesterday and it was quite a strange coincidence.
Posted by Lukas on September 18th, 2015 at 4:58 AM
Do you have deer, rabbits or voles in your area? If so, be sure to fence appropriately.
Posted by ET on September 19th, 2015 at 2:29 AM
Trees! :). Hey Tara and Tyler! I realized that I've not kept up with your world in quite a while. I hope you are well and wish you a long and thorough Fall before winter arrives.
Posted by Nick on October 19th, 2015 at 8:17 PM
Oh, this reminds me of the post where you were on your bike (in Vietnam?) and saw an orange tree cross the street, lol.
I once planted over a dozen rose bushes in one day so know the feeling of a truck full of plants :-). Good luck with your trees; hope they're doing well now, a year later.
PS: Sorry for the zillions of comments.
Posted by Kat on August 15th, 2016 at 4:25 PM