I hope I am not breaking any forum rules, but this is an advice request that drifts into a classified ad.
Quick background: I got into backyard fruit growing due to a dearth of quality and variety of the local harvest. I love cooking and fermenting. I have Eastern European roots, so about 50% of my orchard is fruit from that area - apple, sour cherry and currant, and 50% everything else - stone fruit, grapes, rasp/blackberry, other random edibles on about 1/3 of an acre with 70ish plants. I am in Cleveland, OH z6a.
I am not a natural green thumb, and despite learning a ton along the way, mostly from this site, I am still lacking the knowledge and experience to make this project a success. Right now I’d give myself a solid C. I want to continue to be involved and work on it, but I am looking to hire an experienced hand to take over some tasks. Specifically, I’d like to find someone who can diagnose and fix problems with trees that aren’t thriving, optimize soil and fertilization needs, and develop + implement rodent/insect/disease prevention strategy. I am wide open to type of arrangement, ranging from hourly consulting a few times a year to a full on management and implementation multiyear contract. I have lots of spare room, and could provide capital to start a mini farm for farmers market sales if someone runs it. I have asked some of the local farmer’s market people, but no takers. I have searched online job portals, but those just focus on full-time commercial orchard positions. I have asked the master’s gardeners local extension and no takers. I do have a landscaper, and while he is willing to do any specific tasks, he doesn’t have any experience with fruit.
I am wondering what the opinions are in this community regarding marketing your skills. How many of you would be interested in doing something like this locally. How much $ would you expect? Any other recommendations on where to look for someone? Anybody close to Cleveland and interested or know someone who might be?
I think this is what @alan does - maybe he knows somebody in your area.
If there are any commercial orchards nearby it might be a good place to start your search if there’s no one who is interested in working for you from this forum- my own consultation fees are geared towards the ultra-wealthy and when I have to fly someplace that gets very pricy.
Orchards that have passed a a generation and aren’t hyper-commercial operations growing apple bushes on a trellis, ones that actually have trees will have experienced pruners who can sometimes be hired to work on small home orchards- it happens around here. I was even replaced once at a site where the owner went to nearby orchard and found someone who would work for near poverty wages. The man he hired was no horticulturist, but he could prune for fruit- especially because I had cleaned up the mess his trees were in when I found them in the years I’d worked on them.
For spray, check out the guides here- you can find an arborist who will follow your directions.
Maybe im missing something? Your needs/wants seem to be hefty for a lot that small.
Anyways… Since you live in a major city… i would go to the local university and talk to the arborist there. Perhaps there is a grad student or a recent grad etc… regardless they would likely point you in a good direction or at least probably help you.
If you have funds to make this a reality then possibly talk to some master gardeners and arborists that make a living doing this in your area.
A city the size of Cleveland probabably has a Facebook page for Master Gardeners or Arborists or Orchardists if all else fails.
My mother has people come out and do the pruning of her trees and spray her trees. Your local extension office will give you recommendations on what to do with a soil test. She was kind of the middle ground. Others hire a gardening company to come in every so often. A lot of people in my neighborhood in Colorado that are rich use a company called Fresh I believe. My first job was gardening at a amusement park where I was paid minimum wage but I never got a college diploma. If you are expecting someone that has a college diploma in horticulture to work for you I would say expect to pay a lot but if you expecting to just contract out to A local company to meet your gardening needs it may be more doable though you still need money.
Have you heard of woofing see below (maybe sign up to offer your desires)
maybe you could also think of volunteering to get some more expertise you could even make new friends.
While on the subject I have see some people wanting to start large commercial orchards
I would recommend getting a bit of hands on before making the commitment .
I used to be too busy with work I plan to do this sometime ,
have had a friend do it, but Have known about it for a long time , through the grape vine,
I do travel through Cleveland , and would love to see your tree’s
(also have a friend there , but went there before he moved there, and never been to his new place)
(I go to Lakewood sometimes as well.)
[ What is WWOOF?
Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is a worldwide movement to link visitors (WWOOFers) with organic farmers, promote a cultural and educational exchange, and build a global community conscious of ecological farming and sustainability practices. WWOOF started 50 years ago and has grown from a small group in the 1970’s to a worldwide community of hundreds of thousands of people today.
As a WWOOFer, you will participate in the daily life of your host, help on the farm, learn about sustainability, experience a new culture and meet new people, and receive free room and board during your stay.
As a host, you will open your home to receive visitors who want to connect with organic food, farming and support the sustainability movement.
WWOOF is organized nationally so to join, select the country you are interested in from the map and get growing.
Oh think of craigslist as well
I bicycle tour not been doing it lately ,
but I have meet someone that let me stay over,
and they had a farm hand (and I offered to help while still there)
By the way A very close friend I grew up with is on a farm (His Mom Liz’s farm )
They bought a house from a friend and the people (Gill) have volunteers come, and work (I have)
(some of the volunteers are foreign exchange students Europe,
and we actually became friends with one for his short stay
they may need place to stay while go top school , to learn the language or other community classes)
I should ask more about that process
(from Gill I am not to close in relationship , but am welcome, and Liz is very close to them )
(actually just plan to visit Them soon as well got sick last week.)
My gut reaction is that you should just spend some time writing down your goals and then investing in a small library of books that you can use to accomplish the tasks you are talking about. You are off to a great start just by asking for help. I am betting that the vast majority of questions you may have are already answered on various threads on this forum if you start searching.
Are you physically capable of pruning and spraying and training your trees yourself? If so you will do yourself a favor by learning these skills and building on them each year.
It sounds like funding is not a particular challenge for you, which is great. Do you have space indoors to store a small amount of tools, fertilizer and spray equipment? It would be a reasonable up front investment to get the “good stuff”.
Here are a few threads I have bookmarked to get you started, feel free to reach out with any questions.
Side note - I highly recommend putting together a list of what you already have growing, as well as a wants list to help us help you. Someone trying to grow sweet cherry trees is going to have a vastly different recommendation than persimmon trees, for example. Maybe add that information to your profile or create a spreadsheet? I just added my own take on a list to my profile, check it out.
Hey all, thanks for the replies.
I am doing a lot of the work myself - planting and pruning and fertilizing. Haven’t had much of a harvest so haven’t had to deal with bugs and birds yet. I will study the spray guides and try to find someone local to do the spraying.
I am still looking to find someone with lots of experience who can do a tour of my place and troubleshoot. Anyone willing to drive to Cleveland?