The Macdonald Campus Orchard project aims to revitalize the campus apple orchards. The orchards at the Horticulture Centre are now over 30 years old and are past their viable economic, environmental and educational life-span. They need to be replaced with new, more disease resistant varieties of apples. Support systems must be modernized in order to produce quality fruit with fewer inputs than traditional growing systems currently in use require. This will allow us to meet the McGill communities' demand for more local and sustainable food production and the research needs of students and researchers.
This project intends to re-plant a new 2,500 apple tree orchard at the Horticulture Centre that will provide apples for the Mac Market and our McGill feeding McGill clients downtown for the next 25 years. The trees will be planted at high densities and need to be supported by a post and wire trellis system. This type of production system allows for easier pruning, spraying, feeding and harvesting of the apple crop. A part of this new orchard will be planted (also with the post and wire trellis system) with scab free varieties of apples with the goal of producing apples with less chemical inputs and moving towards an organic production.
It will put in place an orchard which will serve as a U-Pick orchard where McGill student groups and staff can come to enjoy the fall apple picking activity at the Horticulture Centre farm.
These new orchards will be designed and put in place in such a way as to be accessible and to promote education, research and outreach opportunities for our faculty, staff and students.
Trees will be grafted by Mike Bleho who will teach these techniques to the students, to maximize the educational component of the project. While the project may seem focused on apple production, the lessons learned are applicable to food production in general.
Resources from the SPF will be used to purchase the materials required for the modernization, including the orchard sprayer, spray system, and other miscellaneous tools and supplies.
mike.bleho [at] mcgill.ca (Mike Bleho)