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.
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.
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.
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.
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.