Taproot Farm & Fruit

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A family CSA farm and community orchard in the Driftless region of southwest Wisconsin. 

Thinking like a tree

There’s a lot to admire about a tree. Lots to look up to, walking around a forest. Trees know how to honor those that have fallen. They know what hope is. They know what jubilation is in a spring day. 

A healthy forest is full of old wood slowly rotting on the ground. A thriving forest soil is full of fungi that the previous generation contributed to its account when it stopped putting on wood and started to decay. Forests don’t forget their dead. No, forests take the best that their brethren have brought to this world and incorporate it into their own beauty. They set their roots and derive their sustenance from the richness their ancestors contributed to the earth.

Trees know how to take advantage of a sunny day. They open themselves up to the world, reach for the sun, and take joy in the simple pleasures, rain, another dawn, deep roots. Putting on another ring, building a stout trunk, setting seed, these are milestones on the path towards majesty. Few sights in this world inspire as much awe as a broad centenarian burr oak in the early morning light, the product of decades of slow, plodding progress.

We humans would do well to strive for hundred year goals. Stewarding beauty to be enjoyed by great great grandchildren you may never meet. Surely there are few nobler pursuits. Thinking on generational timescales; understanding that hope means doing something every day that reflects your deeply held values, that feels like making a difference, however small. And incorporating our loved ones who have passed into the very fibers of our being; building the future with the legacy and lessons they taught us. We’ve got a lot to learn from trees.  

Setting down roots

A few weeks ago, we hosted our first tree-planting party here at Taproot, in what we hope will become a yearly tradition. Ten hardy souls braved the early spring cold and rain to help us get 100 trees representing 20 varieties of apples planted. Each hole was dug by hand (as all good holes should be), and the trees were introduced to their new homes with care by good folks. After, we toasted and feasted, wishing for generations of good growth on this good earth. 

Ceremonial planting of the last tree

Ceremonial planting of the last tree

Zach and Nate representing east Mifflin and wondering why they had to dig the rocky holes.

Zach and Nate representing east Mifflin and wondering why they had to dig the rocky holes.

Dave planting a Honeycrisp, his favorite apple

Dave planting a Honeycrisp, his favorite apple

Mycorrhizal root dip helps the roots to extend their feeding reach by up to a thousand-fold. 

Mycorrhizal root dip helps the roots to extend their feeding reach by up to a thousand-fold. 

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Farmers helping farmers! Butterbean Community Farm crew switching over to fruit planting for the day. 

Farmers helping farmers! Butterbean Community Farm crew switching over to fruit planting for the day. 

Mo' farmers helping farmers! Julie, of Coney Garth fame, putting some apple trees in the ground. In future years the trimmings from these trees will be fed to her rabbits, to complete the circle.

Mo' farmers helping farmers! Julie, of Coney Garth fame, putting some apple trees in the ground. In future years the trimmings from these trees will be fed to her rabbits, to complete the circle.

Meredith showing us how it's done up in Door County. Creative use of frisbee to feed the trees azomite and rock phosphate to provide early micronutrients and kickstart growth. Trees need to be healthy and robust to withstand pests and disease in an organic system. 

Meredith showing us how it's done up in Door County. Creative use of frisbee to feed the trees azomite and rock phosphate to provide early micronutrients and kickstart growth. Trees need to be healthy and robust to withstand pests and disease in an organic system.