184: Michael Phillips on Holistic Orcharding.
Growing fruit trees by creating a healthy ecosystem.
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Michael is known across the country for helping people grow healthy apples and understand the healing virtues of plant medicines. The “community orchard movement” he helped institute can be found at GrowOrganicApples.com and provides a full immersion into the holistic approach to orcharding. His farm, Lost Nation Orchard, is part of a diversified medicinal herb farm in northern New Hampshire. There, two acres of trees supply local families with many varieties of organic apples, and has a cider mill in the planning stages.
Michael is the author of The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist, and The Holistic Orchard and co-author with his wife Nancy for The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. His newest book, Mycorrhizal Planet: How Symbiotic Fungi Work with Roots to Support Plant Health and Build Soil Fertility, will be available in March 2017. Michael was honored by Slow Food USA to receive the first Betsy Lydon Ark Award for his work promoting healthy ways to grow fruit.
In this podcast: Greg has found an east coast twin when he talks to a fruit tree farmer named Michael Phillips who has been growing apple trees in New Hampshire with a care that works for the health of the trees and the ecosystem in which they live. Michael grows and sells fruit trees and he focuses a lot of offering tree growing education as well. He shares his main points of growing healthy fruit trees and explains why some of the steps are so beneficial to trees.
Listen in and learn about:
- Retiring at age 23 and what he decided to do
- His farm with 57 acres and why they chose that property
- Hoe they grow food, grow medicine, and teach for their community
- The Community Orchard Movement
- One of the costs of store bought food
- Weather trends and how that is affecting The Southwest desert and the East Coast orcharding
- Holistic Orcharding and how that works
- His role as an herbal husband and that helped him understand growing fruit trees
- The importance of mycorrhizal fungi
- Thinking like a tree and green thumbs
- Forest edge ecosystem
- Fungal depth management
- Fungal allies and how to add that to the soil around the fruit trees
- What ingredients he puts in is holistic sprays
- Why he uses his holistic sprays
- Why there are so many different varieties of apples
As well as:
- His failure – the mid to late 90’s when he used kaolin clay on his 20 best trees along with a boron spray and was not paying attention to how much he applied
- His biggest success – About 5 years ago, when a 5-minute hail storm damaged his orchard, and he sprayed the trees with this holistic spray which prevented fire blight from taking over
- His drive – how deep in his hear he is a tree person, and how he loves share tree knowledge and educate his visitors
- His advice – Do fungal things, don’t disturb the soil, put that woody mulch!
Books written by Michael:
The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines with Nancy Phillips
How to reach Michael: