Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Oake Lake Orchard; Operation Food Shelf!
Thoroughly enjoying myself, I was pruning number 100 out of 142 of the fruit trees on our property. Talk about simple beauty; beautiful blue sky as the back drop for glistening water views enhanced by the various waterfowl that have begun to stop over on their journey north. Then it hit me. A large branch that I was pruning from below, literally hit me in the face and it took that to get my attention. What have we actually gotten ourselves into here? The idea of working the orchard ourselves this year is such a wonderful thought. But is it realistic? What happened to the idea of simplification? Here we are trying to raise two sled dog puppies and all that goes into their early training. We're planning a wedding. Making plans for breaking ground on our property up north. We're launching a new beeswax candle label and intensifying our marketing and production to lay the foundation for our move up north in the future and, not to mention, we've got the MN Honey Producers State Fair booth to manage. And guess when the apples will begin to ripen? You got it! During the State Fair!
After going through option after option, I was beginning to wonder the fate of our little orchard overlooking Oake Lake this year. Then, another path presented itself. Have you ever been in the right place at just the right time? A couple weeks ago I was discussing my dilemma with some folks at my real estate appraisal office during one of my biannual visits. Isn't telecommuting grand?! When out from another room came Bill and you could tell by the look on his face, he was thinking something big. "Did you say apple orchard?", he said. Turns out, he is associated with a very kind couple that put on monthly dinners where folks bring either a check or a bag of groceries and all of the proceeds go to out-state food shelves. What an amazing mission! Could we fashion an orchard project with a similar vision?
Since this discussion, the new Oake Lake Orchard "project manager", Bill Hughes, and I have managed to piece together a plan. In a nutshell, he will round up a crew of volunteer apple pickers who will pick, then transport apples to out-state food shelves. The Second Harvest non profit organization will also be involved as they have the proper orchard gear so some of the apples will likely be distributed locally in the Twin Cities metro area.
All of our "unborn" apples have now found someone to pick them and take them to their new homes! And Linda and Neil get to be involved in something truly amazing as they try to continue to work on their "Quest for a more simple lifestyle......", one project at a time.
If you would like to be a part of this with us, we are seeking volunteers for apple thinning that will take place in June and apple picking that begins in August and continues through September. We are also seeking donations to cover the cost of weed spraying for under the trees to minimize pests and for the actual chemicals and spraying labor that will need to be done to the entire orchard. The spraying will be kept to a minimum and the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) standards will be followed but spraying does need to be done in order to have edible apples sent to those in need. Every little bit counts!