Thursday, August 24, 2017
We've had more apples from our trees this year than ever before, still not all we'd like for ourselves but a substantial quantity and enough to start thinking about what we'll do in the future when we do have sellable quantities and whether we should continue planting trees even though we probably have a very generous number of trees for our own use already. We grow our apples (and all our fruit) without any purchased fungicides or insecticides (or any other pesticides), which is very different from both conventional fruit growers and certified organic orchardists. We've written before about our reasons for not wanting to grow apples like certified organic growers do, which you can see here. Of all the realistic options for how to have apples, the apples we're eating now are exactly what we want, but every option comes with trade-offs. Some trade-offs aren't very apparent to consumers, but as both growers and consumers we see a pretty full picture, and that leads us not to want to use and rely on purchased pesticides. (The closest we come to using any pesticides at all on our fruit is to set out a bucket of rejected blackberries or blueberries steeped in very hot water to attract and drown June bugs.) With some other fruits, like strawberries or blueberries or watermelons, and with most vegetables, we're able to sell fruit more or less as perfect as conventionally grown fruit, requiring only that we cull harder with some crops -- we keep strawberries with bad spots for ourselves and carve those out, for example -- but almost every apple we eat has noticeable imperfections, at least cosmetic imperfections (like sooty blotch on the skin) and very often imperfections that might require or at least benefit from carving out bad spots, too. Given the costs and risks and dependencies associated with the other options, completely no-spray is the option that clearly makes the most sense to us, but we wonder to what degree it could make sense to our customers, even our Full Farm CSA members. Apples like ours have various and inconsistent imperfections, take more time to process, and don't keep as long (without pre-processing into sauce or cider, into the freezer, etc.), and if you didn't really care about where your food came from or what was involved in growing it you probably wouldn't ever choose apples like ours, but these are leading concerns for us. Obviously a lot of customers don't share our food and farming values, but surely some more or less would, especially if they knew everything about their food that we know about ours. We want to do everything we can to enable our customers to get to know us well enough that if they do generally share our values, they can trust us to provide them with the same kind of food we choose for ourselves and to trust that that's best, even when it's not superficially obvious. In the meantime, we're continuing to cautiously expand our apple (and other similar fruit) plantings, hoping to be able to offer apples to our Full Farm CSA members soon.