On August 4th we enjoyed a tranquil and informative evening with Adam Dusen of Hundred Fruit Farm in Buckingham. With the help of one very friendly duck named Gerald, Adam led us throughout his permaculture orchard where sheep graze among a variety of nut and fruit trees.
Adam describes permaculture as both a design science and a philosophy which “mimics natural ecosystems”. At Hundred Fruit Farm, for example, in lieu of spraying pesticides or even covering their blueberries, they plant Mulberries close by so that the birds and other critters are well-fed before they make it to the blueberry crop. With intentional design choices like this, they are able to grow what they need free of chemicals.
It seems the pride and joy of Hundred Fruit is the Paw Paw. A fruit with custard-like texture and flavors of mango, pineapple, and banana, this native fruit was all but forgotten until its recent resurgence on the local food scene. Because it spoils quickly and doesn’t travel well, the Paw Paw never quite cut it as a supermarket staple, but it’s an excellent backyard tree that will gift you delectable fruit through September.
After walking through the Paw Paw grove, Adam took us to what is the start of a Silvopasture orchard. Silvopasture (silva meaning forest) is the integration of trees and grazing livestock on the same land. At Hundred Fruit, this means their Babydoll Southdown sheep are pastured among the fruit trees where they clean fallen fruit and add fertilizer with their waste.
Variety is key on this silvopasture and permaculture farm. Gooseberries, kiwis, figs, peaches, plums, walnuts, chestnuts, pecans, hickory nuts…With over 7 varieties of nut trees, just as many fruit trees, and several different berries, Adam protects his farm from the spread of pests and disease that wreak havoc on monoculture farms by simply increasing biodiversity. It’s a win-win. The small farm ecosystem is vibrantly healthy, and he doesn’t have to spend time and money dealing with massive crop loss.
Hundred Fruit Farm offers a buyers club and CSA, permaculture classes, and sells saplings on-site. Check them out at hundredfruitfarm.com.