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Winter Comes Late

Finally, it seems like winter here in the Northeast Kingdom. The past two eves have dipped below -14F which is the coldest this winter, but long in coming as regards real northern temps. We are always quick to enjoy the frigid weather, but have been a bit worried about the odd events leading up this normally cool situation. Here is the complication: Until the last week or so, we had nearly no snow cover due to the wierdly mild weather this year. This of course gives little insulation for plant roots, and so there was much hoping for some of the white stuff. Luck was with folks around here and we received just under a foot last week. Here’s the point, whether or not you believe humans are messing about with the global climate (we are), it is hard to dismiss things are getting unusual out there. Those hoping for the silver linings of global warming and the visions of peach trees and sweet cherries in the north should look closer to the fine print.. The reasons for the distinction between the popular term “global warming” and the term ”global climate change” embraced by the scientific community is that of the effect. Warming, maybe, to your home town. But change, certain. This means, maybe warmer, maybe colder, definitely different. So, here in Walden this year we had one week with only 2 or 3 inches of snow (normally many feet) and we almost had 14 below in those conditions. We did have 9 below with almost no snow a few weeks back. Those who have trees and bushes that have survived for years, especially those in lower altitudes in the surrounding valleys (which characteristically have less snow) will see damage and losses. This is the sort of complications we need to understand. Most so called hardy plant roots can only sustain 20 degrees ABOVE zero in the root zone, so they need protection that snow allows them. No or little snow cover due to warmer temps spells disaster when inevitable arctic blasts swing in from Northern Canada. That so called global warming may likely mean you have to grow hardier plants, not the other way around.

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Community Orchard in Waitsfield



Comments from Walden Heights Nursery

by Flemer Green Community Orchard on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 at 7:37am

Todd Parlo of Walden Heights Nursery is not able to attend the event today and sent these comments to share:

“The planting of a fruit tree is an act of many parts. It means placing food on the table, that’s a given. It means providing shade for people and a home for animals, this too is obvious.  But we, too are looking to the future and creating for the present. The future in that an apple tree might live 200 years, see countless children swinging from the branches and feed thousands of people.  In choosing an heirloom tree we may ensure an already ancient part of our culture a place in the future.  The manner in which we plant, too can enrich us.  Today we are planting as a community, friends and stranger coming together in a single selfless act.  It encourages an understanding of what food means to us, how it comes about, and the efforts necessary in bringing it to fruition.  A community orchard means anopportunity for learning, for good honest work, and for sustainability andindependence in a changing world.

“I should say a bit about the fruits you will be finding in your orchard. Among these are heirlooms like the Fameuse apple and Montmorency cherry are both 400 years old and counting.  Vermont natives like Leo and Bethel apples are easy to care for and disease resistant. Selections such as Liberty and Duchess of Oldenburg.  The cultivars represent many nations, includingFrance, Russia, Canada, Italy, and many states from our own shores.  Represented are both creamy and crunchy pears, apples for ciders, baking and fresh eating and cherries for pies, jellies, juice or just popping on your mouth. The fruits will ripen from July right into the snows of November.  The trees are nearly all of classic size and will be long lived giants, bringing thousands of bushels of fruit for a century or more.

“I feel privileged to be associated with this project and will be happy to lend my guidance when the community needs help.   Thanks should be extended not only to the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and its sponsors, but to the organizers in the community who first saw the opportunity and acted upon it.  Thanks to should be given to each other for supporting such an undertaking. The real success here will come, not from gifts or guidance from others so much as will the work and commitment of YOU, members of the community, in years to come.  It is work to maintain a living entity, like an orchard, for year after year. But by working together you may supplant the mundane with something truly outstanding for yourselves and many generations to come.   Good luck to you.”