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Beginning an urban Orchard

Michael Davis


Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Southeast Michigan
Hello Permies!

I'm new. Be nice. for years I have driven past 6 vacant connect city lots. for years I've dreamt of doing something with them-planting clover to attract bees, planting pumpkins etc. A generalized squat operation/stewardship on forgotten land.

Well, a little over a month ago I was introduced to the Paw Paw. OMG NOM NOM NOM! delicious and as I discovered very nutritious.

So I've put together a proposal to establish an orchard of paw paws on these lots. I shared the proposal with the mayor of my city and she was excited, giving the project her thumbs up. Though there are many hurdles yet to overcome.

Has anyone out there started out a small urban orchard?
Any tips on irrigation systems? (currently imagining a system of regular and soaker hoses)
Anyone ever establish a 501c3 farm or orchard?

I'd love to share my proposal with anyone who'd bother looking at it.

Cheers,

Mike D
Hamtown Farms


Hamtown Farms-Growing more than food.
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11

hi mike,

welcome to the wonderful world of pawpaws

you might want to contact these people
http://www.ohiopawpaw.com/
Doug Owen


Joined: Sep 28, 2011
Posts: 17
Probably mis-posted, this specific forum is making $$$ from a farm/.  That said, where are you at?  High desert, So Florida, Vermont?  Irrigation is highly dependent on you climate.

Best of welcomes and Regards, Doug
Michael Davis


Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Southeast Michigan
I am in michigan, so we're not in an arid situation but will need to provide water to seedlings for the first 2-3 years.

hopefully we will make money but are considering 501c3 status for a number of reasons:
-We feel it would make it easier to acquire the land. the city could potentially gift us the land.
-we won't make money for the first 5 years as an orchard only. (secondary crops currently being considered)
-avoiding property taxes as a 501c3 during those 5 years would be very helpful.
-Avoiding sales tax on purchasing irrigation system supplies would be significant
-As a 501c3 we would be eligible and more likely to receive certain grants to help fund the project

But truth be told, the orchard concept came from the place of a "fun thing" to do while improving the community and not profit.

Somebody provided a link on another thread to integration farms- very similar to what we'd like to do minus the goats.

Mike D.

Hamtown Farms
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11


permaculture and pawpaws

one of the pluses of pawpaws is low maintence, ie, no spraying
this has been attributed to the chemicals produced by the leaves and bark
and this is true
but another reason is that up until recently, pawpaws haven't been widely grown in conventonial monoclonal style orchards

pawpaws have a few natural pests, but in the wild or backyard setting theyare not a problem

last year at the pawpaw festival in athens, oh, Kirk Pomper of KSU gave a talk indicating a build-up of pests in the demostration and research orchards at the university. KSU does a lot of research on pawpaws, but most of the "growing" is in convential orchards as apples, peaches, etc

i think that care should be taken in planting orchards less we lose this characteristic.
planting in "food forest, or forest garden" beds where the density is low and clonal variety is high
would be my recommendation
                  


Joined: Jan 31, 2011
Posts: 92
Soil test before you go any further and find out what was on the land before, if anything. Make sure your ground is clean. It's a real problem here in NYC.
Who owns the land? It would be a real shame to put in all that time and money only to have a developer buy the land up.
Is security a concern? Rather, Security is a concern, what will you do about it?
After that, take a look at these Groasis containers: http://www.groasis.com/page/uk/index.php
What are you looking to grow with the Pawpaws? Sounds like a great time to research and implement some guilds.
Long-term care or the land... Who's doing it?
Make sure you delegate from the beginning so that it will survive your eventual departure.
Michael Davis


Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Southeast Michigan
Soil tests underway. It is my assumption that these lots were residential with lord only knows what being dumped in back yards and garages.

The city currently owns the land but appears willing to explore long term lease/ sale of the property.

Security is a concern but not much can be done about it except erecting a ridiculous fence which goes against the initial aim of the project= cleaning up these ugly sores of dumped couches and garbage.

Thanks for the link to the goasis-very interesting but, like my initial irrigation system design, it might be overkill.  I think I found a responsible and adequate solution relying on reused materials! Bonus!

I'm looking to grow a community with the paw paws. The fruits to be sold at market and other products that may come from the fuit are just icing on the cake. (but some form of income must come in to cover certain bills)

The vacant lots are only a few doors down from my home so I am assuming the role of long term caretaker.

I really think that the 501C3 status will help the transition with my "departure"

Duane-I have been trying to get to Pomper to discuss my plan. Either his busy as a bee or doesn't want me cracking the KSU code without paying tuition.    I'd love to have a handfull of every variety, but for some degree of "marketablity" of the fruit, I'd like to produce as consistent of a product as possible. With Paw paws, that's already a difficult task. The plan consists of 4 varieties.  In time we are considering dropping in filburt trees, another michigan native.
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11


hi mike d,

i think "consistency" is overrated if you know how to market.
good quality but different "variations on the theme" helps make pawpaws special.
in my adventures of bringing pawpaws to the great unwashed masses, the people liked the idea of subtle differences in the taste. i have been displaying/promoting pawpaws for ten years and never had anyone say "i don't like them because this one doesn't taste like the other one"

there are some that want to make pawpaws the next apple and there are some of us that believe you can increase popularity and market without "mcdonaldizing" or "walmartalizing" them.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
hamtownfarms wrote:
.  I think I found a responsible and adequate solution relying on reused materials! Bonus!


Any chance you might share info about it here, or is it a secret?


Idle dreamer

Michael Davis


Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Southeast Michigan
No secret.  I had initially designed a very intricate system of tubing and regulated t valves with soaker hose branches. All told close to 3-4 k. So now the plan is to scavenge regular garden hose and drill one small hole at each tree. Once water is turned on, holes will be increased to regulate equal flow.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5326
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
Thanks! 
S. G. Botsford


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 62
    
    1
The one small hole per tree doesn't work well.  And hose is expensive.

Better bet:  Go to IrrigationDirect and get set up with micro sprinklers.

I set up small trees in pots.  A basic Block for me is 240 feet long 5 pipes wide, with 80 trees per block.  Each tree gets a 1 gallon per hour dripper.  1200 feet of pipe: $120.  400 drippers $40.  Compression fittings  $7.  This makes for a zone that will run on 6 gallons per minute.  Takes about 1 full day to set up a block.

This isn't enough water for a production tree.  If your tree spacing is, say 12 feet,  you put a 300 degree (5/6 of a pie) sprayer on a stick so that the trunk doesn't get soaked (not good for lots of trees) The sprayer is connected to the pipe with spaghetti tubing.  (40 bucks per thousand feet.) 

The pipe itself is scratched into the surface to keep people from tripping over it, and the route flagged with markers. 

Once the trees are taller, you can move the lines into the trees if you want to grow something else underneath.

Do try to not rototil your plumbing.

Also check out IrrigationTutorials.com  Jeff has very solid info about planning an irrigation setup.

But a Wild ass guess is that you should be able to do this for under $500.
Terri Matthews


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 409
Location: Eastern Kansas
    
    3
I have never seen paw paws in the grocery stores, which means that marketing might be difficult. Folks hesitate to try new things, and most people have never eaten paw paws.

I have, and while they are almost as tasty as bananas, there will still be buyers resistance.

The fruit will ripen during a short window of time, and once the trees hit their stride you will have too much fruit to sell in the farmers markets. Is it something that the wholesalers would take?

You might reduce your risk by also planting some trees-like peaches- that are better known.

It is a very exciting concept! I have often wondered why paw paws were not more often seen in the stores! The seeds are a little annoying, but so are cherry pits!
                  


Joined: Jan 31, 2011
Posts: 92
Terri wrote:
I have never seen paw paws in the grocery stores, which means that marketing might be difficult. Folks hesitate to try new things, and most people have never eaten paw paws.

I have, and while they are almost as tasty as bananas, there will still be buyers resistance.

The fruit will ripen during a short window of time, and once the trees hit their stride you will have too much fruit to sell in the farmers markets. Is it something that the wholesalers would take?

You might reduce your risk by also planting some trees-like peaches- that are better known.

It is a very exciting concept! I have often wondered why paw paws were not more often seen in the stores! The seeds are a little annoying, but so are cherry pits!

Pawpaws bruise easily and people are averse to bruised/blemished fruit. That is why it's not sold in stores, I was told. I love them, though, and plan on growing several in my future orchard.
S. G. Botsford


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 62
    
    1
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/pawpaw.html

Not to discourage you, but a heads up.  Given the difficulties they have getting pollenated naturally, you may not be successful in the city. 

Also needing shade initially then full sun will be a challenge.  I suggest growing them in large nursery containers under a tree in your yard initially.
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6563
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
135
Once a pawpaw is picked/ripe, if it is not eaten in 1 or 2 days, it will spoil.  This makes them unattractive to supermarket produce managers.  Something with a 1 day shelf life is unlikely to be found in any market.
S. G. Botsford


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 62
    
    1
Article I posted comments that they can be frozen.  Also may be possible to make fruit leather, juice, smoothies.

I know that with our currents and crabapples they are WAY too abundent when they are ready to pick.  We make juice and freeze the juice, then process it later into jelly.

Paw paws fragility is one thing that makes them attractive for farmers markets.

I'm sure someone will discover that if you pick them green, then stuff them in a paper bag with a ripe banana, they will get ripe overnight, and have even less flavour...

An overripe pawpaw makes awesome ammunition for a water balloon catapult.
Michael Davis


Joined: Oct 05, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: Southeast Michigan
Sgbotsford-

Thanks for the irrigation tip. Will look in to it.

As far as issues with pollination and being in the city, I'm not too worried. If houseflies are a true vector, there should be no problem.

Is it spring yet?
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11

more permaculture and pawpaw news

from the "Pawpaw Pickin's" , the newsletter of the Ohio Pawpaw Growers (soon to be the North American Pawpaw Growers Association)

Bordered Leaf Spot (Phyllosticta asiminae)

"The North America Pawpaw is well known for its freedom from serious insect and disease pests. However, in some areas of the natural range of the pawpaw, Phyllosticta asiminae , Bordered Leaf Spot, is increasingly causing injury to the foliage and more importantly, the fruit."

"Generally, protective control measures are not warranted for the control of most leaf spot diseases but some of the pawpaw selections are very susceptable to Phyllosticta asiminae"


In the president's message talking about this he says:

"Unfortunately several of the "best" tasting N.A. Pawpaws come from trees that develop heavy levels of Phyllosticta asiminae on the foliage and fruit. When you observe large fruit that has cracked open due to Phyllosticta asiminae, I ask myself why aren't we selecting N.A. Pawpaws for other qualities than good tasting fruit with few seeds? (my emphasis)


So one needs to ask, if one is going to put a lot of money into "selected" grafted trees, Is this a problem with this cultivar?


other disturbing news:

"Roundup is Labeled For the North American Pawpaw!

some confusion due to it being referred to but not specificially (genus/species) listed under EPA (BUT what else could it be!)

according to Stephan Adams, Registration Manager, glyphosate, Chemical Regulatory Affairs " the North American Pawpaw is referred to in the group "Tropical and Sud-tropical Trees and Fruit" in the Roundup WeatherMAX Herbicide (524-537) and Roundup PowerMAX (524-549) labels and so it's use for weed control around this tree is a legal application"

and they say this a if it was a good thing
pawpaws fit well into permaculture, but not everyone working with pawpaws is into permaculture
                        


Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
I admittedly have no experience with paw paws, but I have been involved with a non-profit community farm in the bay area, CA for the last 5 years. There are a lot of things to consider when you are starting something of the sort and many "little" issues that arise once the initial honeymoon period is over. From my experience here it is difficult to balance your income, if you plan to have much at all, with your expenses which no matter how you slice it will be many off the start. soil amendments, mulch(can be free), the saplings themselves, soil tests, stakes, and the aforementioned irrigation will cost quite a bit and unless you pursue some sort of grant it will have to come out of your pocket which is a big ask.

once you get started who will manage the site? Will you pay them of do you want volunteers? our operation is supported by volunteer workers and we found that volunteers don't like to help when you are eventually going to sell the products they are helping to grow. If you want the garden to build community then profit shouldn't be involved because if you are gifted the land, and want non-profit status you will have a hard time getting your proposal approved if you plan to make profit, unless of course you roll it back into the company. What we have done with at least some amount of success is split the project into 2 parts, one being the community farm where everything is done by the people for the people, and a small nursery where we make the money needed to pay the bills and support the farms expenses which has one employee(me).

Others have mentioned the issues with marketing paw paws so I wont really get into that too much, but even here where we give everything that we grow away for free it's hard to get people to try new things. No one will take Yacon off our hands free or not, same goes for sunchokes and even guavas at times (city folks watcha gonna do). I wish you the best of luck with your project though and keep us informed about how you do. Cheers

-EricTheRed-
Jason Long


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
duane McCoy wrote:

hi mike d,

i think consistency is overrated if you know how to market.


Duane,
I COMPLETELY disagree with this statement in regards to quality. People want good consistency with their products. Varieties can change, providing the fruits have consistent quality.

Customers will not come back if sometimes the fruit is great and other times it is bad. It is sometimes better to have average consistent produce compared to having inconsistent great/bad produce. This is why people still by crappy fruits and juices at the supermarkets, because they can always count on the quality to be exactly like it was before.

We need to start creating consistent high quality "products" (fruits, vegetables, animal products) so we can get people more nutrition without ruining their experience.


Treehugger Organic Farms
duane hennon
volunteer

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 391
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
    
  11

"hamtonfarms said:
I'd love to have a handfull of every variety, but for some degree of "marketablity" of the fruit, I'd like to produce as consistent of a product as possible. With Paw paws, that's already a difficult task. The plan consists of 4 varieties. In time we are considering dropping in filburt trees, another michigan native."

..........

Jason said:

"duane McCoy wrote:


hi mike d,

i think consistency is overrated if you know how to market."


Duane,
I COMPLETELY disagree with this statement in regards to quality. People want good consistency with their products. Varieties can change, providing the fruits have consistent quality."

..................
Jason

my reply was in reply to Mike's statement. he used "consistency" as sameness, not quality. I agree with having a good consistant product quality. my objection was to his monoculture approach and marketing view.
My last post show the problems one can have with grafted trees. An orchard of clones all susceptable "Bordered Leaf Spot" would consistently produce unsaleable fruit

as I said, the variations of flavor (good quality but different) of pawpaws should be used as a selling point, not shunned. If one wants consistent monotomous sameness, grow apples

Jason Long


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 153
Location: Davie, Fl
Duane,

I appreciate your response and agree 100% with what you said.

Unfortunately, when we post certain information on the internet information could be misunderstood and not every following post is read. Which is exactly what happened to me

Jason
Casey Homecroft


Joined: Feb 03, 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Ohio, Zone 6a
Hi Mike,

I'm new too, so hello! I have two ideas to toss your way concerning water and pollination.

You mentioned that this is in an urban (residential-ish?) area. One thing that urban areas have in abundance is roofs that shed water. One way to collect water would be to enlist the support of neighbors who would be willing to "donate" their roof run-off via rain barrels. You might have to haul the water to a larger cistern onsite, which would be something to work out. Something like this would not only get you free water, but it would allow community members in the area to become part of the project and feel some ownership and pride.

My other thought is about pollination. Check with local regulations to see if you could have a couple of honey bee hives. Not only would they help pollination tremendously, but you would also end up with another cash crop to help offset expenses: honey.

I applaud your mission and wish you all the best!
Miriam Professor


Joined: Jan 06, 2012
Posts: 19
Hi,
A nonprofit urban farm in Birmingham, Alabama has a cool website you might be interested in, if you are still trying for 501.c.3 status:
http://www.jvuf.org/
-Miriam
Daniel Morse


Joined: Feb 13, 2012
Posts: 221
Location: SW Michigan
    
    4
I was wondering how your ideas are fruiting? So to say.

I have never met a stranger, I have met some strange ones.
Walter Jeffries


Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 907
    
  18
Michael Davis wrote:I'm new. Be nice.


Oh, right, just because you're new you want us to treat you nicely. Well no way, dude! *grin* Just kidding...

Has anyone out there started out a small urban orchard?


I'm not urban but I'm doing orchards. Our goal is to produce an integration of a variety of nuts and fruits with our livestock pastures. We are setting up our fencing so there are 50' wide paddocks separated by thin double fenced 4' to 6' areas where the fruit and nut trees and bushes go. This protects the trees from the larger livestock. The piglets, ducks, geese and chickens are able to creep graze between the trees. The larger animals go in the paddocks using managed rotational grazing - no mowing and they fertilize the orchard, clean up the drops, prune the lowest branches, etc.

Any tips on irrigation systems? (currently imagining a system of regular and soaker hoses)


Irrigation is hard to do here so what I'm doing is running our fencing with the contours of the land. Then the soil builds up into terraces. This is a slow process. In some places I've accelerated it with machine work but for the vast majority I'm using gravity, rain and animals. We live on the side of the mountain so we have little flat land, thus the terracing. The terracing then catches the rain fall and run off so it keeps our soil from running down the mountain, the little soil we have. I've been doing this for about 20 years and it works very well. We're about to add several new sections this summer.

Anyone ever establish a 501c3 farm or orchard?


You mean a non-profit? Are there any profitable farms?!? My banker asked if we're a non-profit or a for-profit. I said I sure the heck hoped we were going to make a profit. That is the point!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501c3

I do know of several people who setup non-profits. It was a LOT of hassle dealing with the IRS and other government agencies, more audits, more accounting. The government's pretty suspicious of 'non-profits' because people abuse the status. The folks I know ended up having to set up both a profit and a non-profit, two separate corporations, to do business in order to separate things. More paperwork. I prefer simplicity, and making a profit. My suggestion is not to bother with the 501c3 unless you've got a really good reason and then figure it is going to cost you a few thousand extra a year.

Cheers,

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
Gordon Hogenson


Joined: Aug 25, 2009
Posts: 22
If I understand correctly, a 501c3 has a elected board, which means that you can get voted out of power and lose control of the organization. There are people with agendas who do take over non-profits and repurpose them for their own ends. Be sure that you really understand the implications of any formal structures that you set up. A 501c4 may be a better non-profit option, as this has an appointed board that means you keep control. Of course you should consult an appropriate expert to verify all this.
Miriam Professor


Joined: Jan 06, 2012
Posts: 19
There is a nonprofit urban farm here in Birmingahm, AL. It's called Jones Valley Urban Farm. Check out the write-up by Grist at this web link: http://grist.org/article/food-keeping-up-with-jones-valley-urban-farm/
 
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