Saturday, October 22, 2022

Autumn Update

Bear damage in the orchard.
It’s late October already, and the end of another year will soon be upon us. This has been a different sort of year at Brovold Community Orchard. We mentioned in our last post that fruit production was abysmal this year. Well, things only got worse as summer ended. Bears had been frequenting the orchard since early August. Not only was it a bad year for domestic fruit, but the berries and other wild foods that bears usually depend on were also scarce this year. This forced them to not only take advantage of our fruit trees, but to also raid garbage cans and other unnatural sources of food throughout Alberton. The amount of bear activity in town was very high this year. By mid-September, the bears hit the orchard even harder, breaking limbs and doing considerable damage to the trees. There was hardly any fruit left by then, so we picked the remaining apples and pears before they were fully ripe to prevent further damage.

Alberton badly needs to implement a Bear Smart Community program aimed at securing unnatural bear foods – garbage, bird feeders, pet and livestock food, small livestock, and fruit trees – so bears are no longer attracted into town. This would reduce the nuisance bear and human safety concerns while also protecting the bears. At least one bear was shot by enforcement officers in town this year, and several others were hit by vehicles on nearby roads.

Brovold Community Orchard intends to set an example for Alberton by constructing a state of the art multi-strand high-tensile electric bear exclusion fence around the orchard before next summer. The fence will cost a few thousand dollars, and we’ve been trying to raise the money through donations and grants. If you would like to contribute, you may do so at our Paypal donation link near the upper right corner of this post, or on our Go Fund Me page at . Your support is greatly appreciated.

Kids learning about bears.
Fall is cider pressing time at the orchard, and every year school kids arrive to learn how to
pick apples and turn them into delicious apple cider. This year, two schools came over a two week span – Alberton school as well as DeSmet school from Missoula. But with there being no apples, we had to improvise. Instead of making cider, the Alberton kids enjoyed an excellent presentation on bears by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks’ Laura Collins and Center for Wildlife Information’s Chuck Bartlebaugh. Using mounted bears and other visual aids, the kids learned to differentiate between black and grizzly bears as well as why it is important to secure attractants from bears. The DeSmet students brought their own apples and pressed them into cider. They also toured the orchard and learned about bear damage to fruit trees first hand.

There are no guarantees when it comes to raising fruit in an orchard. Most years are good, but some years are bad. 2022 will go down as the worst fruit production year in memory. Regardless, though, we had success with completion of a new parking lot this year, and we enjoyed hosting the school kids once again. We’ve already started planning to make next year a fantastic year at Brovold Community Orchard.

Orchard tour.




No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Blog Posts