Compact Orchard Feeds One Family with a Single Tree


one tree orchard allows you to grow many varieties of fruit on one tree
[image credit: ABC News]

High density urban spaces have limited room to grow food

Urban gardening is taking off in popularity across the United States, as people convert lawns and public spaces into gardens and orchards. In high-density urban areas, space for gardening is limited, as farmland gives way to urban development.

One of the tragedies of this shift to urban living is the destruction of heirloom biodiversity. Small, local orchards develop unique, locally-acclimated varieties of fruits that

Solution: Graft multiple varieties of fruits onto a “one tree orchard”

Artist Sam Van Aken grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania, where he learned to graft fruit trees. When an orchard containing hundreds of varieties of heirloom trees was threatened with destruction, Van Aken stepped in to preserve what he could – by grafting rootstock and branches from the trees into each other to plant elsewhere. “At the grocery store we only see essentially three different varieties of plums, apricots and so forth. I had found this orchard of over 200-plus varieties of plums and apricots, and they were going to tear the orchard out and it struck something in me where I was like, ‘We can’t tear this orchard out. We have to keep this,’” he said.

“When I place them somewhere I’ll go to local orchards and collect their heirloom varieties, and graft them onto a tree,” he said. “That way it becomes a sort of agricultural history.” While Van Aken may be addressing this issue as an artist, compact, grafted “orchard trees” are an excellent way for anyone to grow multiple varieties of similar fruits in a compact space. Visit your local library and nursery for instructions on grafting, or even contact an orchard in your state.

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Some of the many varieties of stone fruits that can be grown on one tree
[image credit: ABC News]

Get Involved

  • Know of a nearby orchard? Try your hand at grafting – they may even help you
  • Opt for locally-acclimated, heirloom varieties of fruits for your landscaping

Category: Hunger


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Article by: Dave

Dave Cannon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and consultant to nonprofits and small businesses. He loves Thai food and takes terrible photographs. You can follow him on Linkedin.
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