Fruit in Words and Deeds

The struggle and beauty of fruit, its cultivation and care, is a dance of regenerative-impermanence. As we approach Earth Day, I find myself fascinated with the idea that the earth itself gives us fruit, something that sustains and pleases us in the moment, that also acts as a distributor of seeds for future growth.  

The life cycle for all fruit varieties follows the path of blossoming, maturing, ripening, and decline. It is a rolling reminder of the passage of time that, if noticed, snaps us into presence. If there is a season for our lives, then it seems to me there is a fruit to accompany it.

The Power of Fruit

Two things happened last week that made me smile about the power of fruit in how we think of and tend to the earth. First was the wonderful group of submissions we received for our fruit poetry contest. Thank you to all who entered and celebrated fruit with words.  The first 50 entrants will receive something from our grab bag of FruitGuys swag. You can read them all here in this blog post.

The second was an event I had with Steve Frecon from Frecon Farms. I was in New York presenting on the grants we make to small farms via our nonprofit The FruitGuys Community Fund and Steve spoke about his Boyertown, Pennsylvania farm (a 2020 grantee) and his farming practices. We’ve been working with Frecon Farms for many years to supply our clients in the northeast. Steve is a dynamic and engaged farmer who truly sees his role as both an environmental and economic steward of his farm. His ability to find new ways to grow a third-generation farm that creates community amongst his family and staff so that he can continue to support the health of the land he lives and works on, is admirable.  

Stewardship of the Land

Steve talked about two aspects of his low-impact integrated pest management approach: he creates environments to encourage natural predators to attack pests and he also puts up pheromone traps at this time of year to confuse the pests that are waking from dormancy so they don’t breed and make more pests.  

Steve also uses natural methods to support nutrients in the soil so that he doesn’t need to use fertilizers. For his established orchards, he mulches tree cuttings, trimmings, and fescue grass so that this organic matter can decompose back into the soil and help replenish the soil’s nitrogen for the trees. On open land where he is going to plant new trees, he first plants sorghum and millet, making sure to mow it twice before then plowing it under in the fall, and then plants winter rye.  Later he will plow the rye under and then plant his new trees. He monitors how his methods are working by taking tissue samples from the leaves of each tree to understand if the preparation of the soil is supporting the trees with proper nutrients such as nitrogen, calcium, phosphate, potassium, and microelements.

I believe that farms can be natural engines of positive, environmental stewardship as well as places that produce our food. And while we all aren’t farmers, the more we know about and support small farms and their wonderful food with our words and deeds, the closer we get to the planet and our interaction with it. So happy Earth Day 2023 and raise a piece of fruit to all of the farmers who strive daily for greater and ever greater sustainable and regenerative strategies as it truly is for the benefit of us all. 

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