Back in the mid-eighties, growers/owners Tom and Gretchen realized that the less chemicals they used in the orchard…the less chemicals they had to use in the orchard. Both halves of this farming team were passionate naturalists and had formal backgrounds in biology and wildlife ecology; they realized at the beginning of their orcharding-life that if they enhanced and respected the farm’s whole ecosystem they might have fewer problems to treat.
Thusly, our focus at Door Creek Orchard has been to improve and maintain the biodiversity of the orchard ecosystem; the more healthy and varied the ecosystem, the more stable it is, and the potential for pest and disease explosions is reduced. Concrete examples of this commitment to ecological diversity can be seen clearly at the orchard: our native wetland, pond, prairie restoration, deciduous woods, Kestrel and Mason bee houses, and pollinator blocks, are all purposeful contributions to our philosophy.
Insects and disease cannot always be controlled through our eco-approach. When this happens we try to select a control spray material that will have as minimal an effect on the orchard ecosystem as possible. These decisions and practices are all part of our commitment to Integrated Pest Management (IPM). We are willing to accept cosmetic imperfections on our crop in exchange for ecological sustainability and safety.
Our family enjoys all the wild residents of our farm: cranes in the wetland, butterflies and bees on the apple blossoms, tree-frogs in the woods and orchard, and foxes in the prairie. Diversity rules here and we are always experimenting with new management and growing ideas.
Photos from top: Kestrel family residing in one of our nest boxes; Tom checks one of many pheremone traps; our sheep on their orchard grazing rotation.