Permaculture Orchard Renovation

(Note from Ethan: This post is a final design report by the 2010 AppleSeed Permaculture Interns Brandy Hall (Ashevillage Institute & owner of Shades of Green, clinic Inc) and Evan Schoepke (Gaia Punk Design Co-op & Punk Rock Permaculture E-Zine). The full design presentation is included as a slideshow at the end of the post. AppleSeed Permaculture is currently accepting applications for our 2011 Internship program – click here to learn more.)

Design Challenge

We set out to address the challenges of an existing five-acre orchard which had not been managed in five years…

The 1200+ trees of various highly-cultivated varieties of apples and other species in the Rosaceae family were overgrown and very vulnerable to pests and diseases. The client wanted to assume his role as steward of the land, approved but does not have experience in agriculture. Our job as the design team was to address both the physical and socio-economic landscape for this client.

Project Goals

The healthy, productive and inviting land overflows with abundance, generating a diversified income. The client is a steward of the land, and the site is a thriving economic, educational, and social center.


We addressed the design challenge by creating a five-year Orchard Renovation plan, which implements a cross-pollination cluster model. In this model, trees of different plant families are placed next to each other, but are close enough in proximity to trees of the same family to cross-pollinate, without sharing pests and diseases. The client is passionate about pesticide-free agriculture, and this model addressed his concern, while diversifying income. The new orchard included: Apple, Chestnut, Persimmon, Paw Paw, Mulberry, and Cornelian Cherry. The economic design integrated a Rare Fruits CSA, Fruit Stand, and Pick-Your-Own, with understory yields in each season. Other elements of the design included: Native and Medicinal Plant walk, Nut Grove windbreak, Reconstructed Wetland, Cut Flowers, a Mandala Kitchen Garden, and Integrated animal systems.

Client Feedback

“I’ve spent some time reviewing the professional, thorough and comprehensive work you presented me with—it’s far more complete and helpful than I could ever have expected.”