Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving Thoughts


Pruning time
Thanksgiving week is a good time to look back and reflect on the year’s accomplishments at Brovold Community Orchard. It’s been a very busy year! The year’s events began in late winter with the annual tree pruning. It’s a big job pruning 76 trees. This year we incorporated a free pruning class for the public. Springtime brought an amazing display of blossoms to the orchard, and local photographer Jay Styles visited to capture the array in all it’s glory. Jay’s photos are simply outstanding. 

Photo by Jay Styles
We held an open house for the public during the peak of the bloom, and everyone who attended got to learn about the history of the Brovold property, how the orchard got its start, and what our future plans entail. The next day, we assisted Alberton School officials in hosting the graduating class for their senior luncheon at the orchard. In July, we participated in Alberton’s Railroad Day. We drove our restored 1941 Chevy pickup in the parade, took first place in the vintage car show, and the orchard was a clue site for the scavenger hunt. 

Railroad Day
In September, Brovold Community Orchard reached a milestone when the IRS approved us as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity. This allows us to apply for grants and makes any donations received tax deductible for the donors. On October 1, we co-hosted the annual kids’ cider pressing day for Alberton School children, their teachers, and parents. Over 100 children and adults attended. Other hosts this year included Alberton School District, PEAK Foundation, Alberton PTSA, and Mineral County Parents as Teachers.

Fruit production in the orchard this year was moderately good despite the unusually hot dry summer weather. For the first time, we required free picking permits for the public to harvest fruit from the orchard. The permitting process was very well received and highly successful. A total of 73 permits were issued online or in person. Applicants ranged all the way from Missoula to Superior, but most were from Alberton. Since most people came in family groups, we estimate that about 300 people enjoyed harvesting fruit from the orchard this year. An estimated 3,800 pounds of fruit was harvested, and more than an additional 1,000 pounds of windfallen fruit was picked up for use as livestock feed. The economic benefit provided to the community may have been as great as $7,600.

Following the fruit harvest, a user survey was sent out to permit holders and also made available to the general public. Based on the survey results, satisfaction with this year’s harvest was high, and respondents provided us with some good ideas on how we can make things even better in the future. Some of the top responses were to plant more and a greater variety of fruit trees, develop a better parking area, put up informational signs throughout the orchard, and develop a trail with park benches around the orchard. Those are all things we want to accomplish too, but unfortunately those things all take money. Many people may assume that once the trees are there, it doesn’t cost anything to maintain an orchard. This could not be further from the truth. Expenses for things like maintaining or replacing equipment and buying fuel for mowing, weed whacking, and pruning; pest and noxious weed control; and piecing together a dilapidated irrigation system run around $3,000 annually. Making any improvements beyond basic maintenance costs far more. This is why public donations to help keep the orchard going are so important. Without donations, it would be hard to maintain the current orchard, much less make the improvements we all would like to see.

During this time of Thanksgiving, please consider donating to the orchard if it has blessed you in some small or large way. Alberton has always been known for neighbors helping neighbors. Brovold Community Orchard’s mission is to help our community. Your efforts to give back by making a donation to the orchard would be a blessing to us. Thank you, and please have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.




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