Online Apple Grafting Workshop

The Iowa non-profit Seed Savers Exchange is hosting a series of online apple grafting workshops for beginners:

  • Apr 15 & 16 - presentations and demos to the large group, followed by scheduled small group knife skills sessions where they review your technique
  • Additional online Q&A on May 6, June 3 and October 14 about planting, maintenance, and winterizing

Base price is $35
If you want to add five heritage scions and M7 rootstock, it’s $75.
If you want scions, rootstock & a grafting knife, it’s $115.

SSE has a historic apple orchard with over 1200 varieties:

There’s an article about the orchard on page 12 of their quarterly newsletter:


Honestly this seems a tiny bit odd to try to do online while charging a fee.

I did some grafting on apple tree seedlings for the first time this past year and it cost me roughly $32 for 10 rootstocks, $10 (if I remember right?) for a grafting knife (not the best quality, but I’m just playing around), and maybe $10 in gas driving. Got free scions from people in my area.

Technique and strategies are already available online so access isn’t the problem. I’m also not sure how they can really correct your technique over a video chat.

On the other hand it’s a non-profit trying to raise awareness of older varieties of apples and making it much more accessible to the public so it’s not a bad idea I guess. Also the supplemental Q&A on maintenance and winterizing seems like a nice addition.

Yeah I guess after thinking about it it’s a nice idea and a good way for beginners that don’t want to find where to get rootstock, scions, and a grafting knife on their own can easily join the community.


I’m in agreement…I can make some profit at their price points.

The non profit seems like a really nice organization. I wish we had something similar in the EU (or do we? and am i not aware of it)

This course though, seems strange to me.
If given grafting course to ~30 people.
-i can’t imagine teaching someone hands on knife technique’s over the internet. I definitely can’t imagine a way you can do that safely. The finer details of safe knifework i don’t think come across well on a webcam. (how would you see if someone holds there finger just before the knife’s edge or just behind. How would you see if someone is exerting pressure with the thumb of their knife hand. Or is using their arms to exert pressure while cutting chips or the tongue from W&T)

You can give a safe presentation of knife work in a video. But i don’t know how they would improve on the material that’s already out there. (like skillcults)

The added price for 5 rootstock and scions (you can’t choose the varieties :frowning: ) also seems a little steep. (40$) Same for added price of a grafting knife (40$)

-If given grafting courses for 1/10 the price. Including free choice of scion (50+ variety) 3 rootstocks and lending grafting knifes.
I don’t know if the course i give is comparable to theirs though.

And that the organization is non profit, does not means this course has to be. It could be a fundraiser/course combined. Although it would be nice if they mentioned that.

It looks like there is a basic instruction session, then you sign up for a smaller group “knife coaching” session. And then there are follow-up sessions about planting, maintenance and winterizing. So this looks like much more than just the same thing as a beginner would get from a YouTube video. And while there are other videos out there, it makes sense to have their own so they are giving specific details of how they are teaching it (not someone else’s techniques/hints/tips), then they follow up with the coaching to help you do it on your own.

In terms of cost, it does seem high for many folks like those on this forum, but I think most people interested in supporting the work of the organization wouldn’t think it was a lot. While this is a non-profit, they definitely have staff and other costs. And if you look at the added $40 for 5 varieties, if you are getting 5 rootstocks plus the scions, that comes out to $8/tree which doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. M7 rootstock alone are listed at $4.49 each on Raintree, plus shipping.

I’m glad they’re doing it, especially seeing how most people are limited to what their local big box store offers.

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Here’s the solution…don’t sign up…or sign up and don’t buy the knife option.

I think there’s a beginner’s market for this - people who don’t want to do their own research or watch endless YouTube videos. That’s why people hire tax accountants, tennis instructors, and piano teachers…and buy things at their local stores for more money after talking to the staff to get their expertise, rather than online. My locally owned nursery sells hundreds of fruit trees each year for $40-70 each - buyers could find it cheaper elsewhere, but they value it for various reasons.

It’s the non-profit’s mission to preserve heritage varieties and promote growing your own food. This seems perfectly well suited to reaching new audiences for something who isn’t an expert and might try this, particularly if there’s no in-person option near them. I thought some newbies might appreciate it, especially since it has the small group technique review and the follow-up care. I’m a newbie and I signed up.

If it doesn’t work out, they won’t do it again. If people don’t like it, they won’t sign up. It promotes fruit growing and heirloom varieties and skills, so I shared it.

This thread sounds like the commentary about the first iPhone - the touchscreen was never going to work and it was too expensive…maybe not for you, but obviously other people liked it. This is for the other people.


SSE by the way is a fabulous non-profit doing important work. They get my seal of approval after watching them for years. Highly recommend.


I’m sorry if my post came off as overly critical.

Please let us know how the course went, when it’s finished. I’m especially curious about the small group knife skills sessions. How those went.

i myself thought people that in person. And find it hard to imagine doing that over webcam. But hopefully they know something i don’t.

I’m all for learning more people how to graft. Ideally most (if not all) gardeners know how to
-sow seeds
-strike cuttings (layer or marcot)

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I appreciate your note…thanks.