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From wild bumblebees to hiving our own honey bees, planting the garden to monitoring and protecting our now
seven year old preservation orchard from the Codling Moths and ear wigs - the Spring season was a whirlwind! June blew in like an early Summer thunderstorm and with it, a brand new event of it's kind for the inland North West...The Modern Homesteading Conference. The event for the public spanned two days but for us, it meant months of planning, preparations, and the chance for us to really highlight our love for what we do and for the modern homesteading movement that is taking place across the country. Eight years ago, we established our lives here in the mountains of North Idaho with our own goals of self-sufficiency and a quiet, proper childhood for our girls ( old-fashioned and outdoors). We could have never imagined that a few years later, we would be front and center, catering an absolutely gorgeous, hyper-local farm-table dinner here in our orchard for homesteading advocates such as Melissa K. Norris, Grammy Award Winner Rory Feek, Joel & Daniel Salatin and so many more. These renowned educators and talented homesteaders came to share their knowledge with thousands and to educate and encourage other seasoned & aspiring homesteaders to take control of their food supply while strengthening their local communities with the bonds of fellowship and agriculture.
I was honored by an invitation to speak at the conference to personally contribute my knowledge by giving a live Apple Grafting demonstration as well as speaking about how you can take charge of having a profitable homestead. We had a raffle at our booth throughout the conference, awarding four winners with young heirloom apple trees grafted right here at our orchard. Catering the VIP dinner at the fairgrounds Saturday evening with a hyper-local farm dinner and charcuterie table complete with our trademark Honey Fall AND mini farm pies rounded out an unbelievable weekend that will forever be seared into my mind. The sort of thing a country girl like me could only dream of. Despite being a photographer myself, you cannot be the organizer and take pictures too. Thank goodness the Modern Homesteading Conference team brought in local photographer Suzy Holling who did a spectacular job capturing the moments, the food, and atmosphere of this most memorable twilight event at Athol Orchards. I had the very best people on my team ( Erreck and girls included) to help make this and the VIP dinner events just short of flawless.
Special thanks to the following North Idaho farms, ranchers and local businesses for helping make this event such a smashing success:
photographer: Suzy Holling
props and staging: Mikhaela Charter of Attic Rentals
In conjunction with the Modern Homesteading Conference this year, we thought it only proper and high time to introduce our very first of many historical/rare apple variety collections to both seasoned and aspiring homesteaders and self-sufficient minded folk. Each season we will introduce a collection of varieties curated specifically for the original intended purposes of our ancestors. This was a concept once so commonplace but in a world of technology and convenience, relying upon the modern food system, we have lost the foresight our forefathers had that was a standard practice. This is something I would call "Planting With Purpose".
Establishing an orchard is NOT just simply going out and purchasing fruit trees. If there is something you have in mind to do with your harvests, whether it's putting up fruit for the winter, trying tirelessly to replicate grandma's award-winning apple pie , sweet or hard cider making, or simply having a spectacular apple for eating fresh out of hand. Yes. There's a variety ( MANY ) for that. I beg of you. Whatever you do - do NOT fall for the big box store fruit tree sales when they first hit in the Spring. You will end up with "best of" varieties that may or may not even be suited for your climate. Not to mention, these run of the mill varieties are industry standard, BORING, and very lacking in genetic diversity which is what makes the apples of our ancestors so vastly different and prized. Invest your heart and time in this endeavor. Orcharding is an intimate and very personal relationship between us and tree. The past has so many riches to share with us when it comes to apples. My job is to open that history book and show you where to start. For 2023, our very first collection is called "The Keeper's Orchard". Click the link below to learn more! It's available for only a short while. Reserve your first Athol Orchards Homestead Orchard Collection now!
Despite a poor bloom this year, several trees
are growing some beautiful antique apples for this Autumn.
The Orchard Barn
inspired by Country Carpenters, CT
If you have supported our business over the past
seven years, you would know that ever since the very
beginning, we've had big plans for this growing preservation orchard and farm.
The first addition was our orchard-based licensed kitchen. Funded by an amazing angel investor, our own savings and a successful Kickstarter campaign that funded right at the onset of the COVID crisis. The success of our campaign was a testament to local community support, and how amazing our customers and friends are despite the uncertainty and unknowns at the time. The funding was completely local, and grass roots.
The next step has been one which has had many set backs but 2023 is the year. We've fought various elements that have been frustrating bumps in the road but we are now gearing up. If you've been out to the orchard for a workshop, event, or just to visit a farmstand for pies and honey, you have seen us set up outside, inside the kitchen in the Winter, or out closer to the road. The kitchen was never intended to be a long term solution for selling our orchard and farm's value-added products. We prefer to keep our kitchen a closed facility to keep public health at the top of our commitments. It allows us to maintain our standards of sanitation and sterilization.
All this to say, I am so beyond excited to share with you the future space at Athol Orchards, our New England-Inspired Orchard Barn. This will be a storing space for all fresh seasonal produce, our Raw Bunco Honey, beeswax products,
raw goat milk products, seasonal North Idaho Maple Syrup, farm fresh pies and more!
The gorgeous red barn you see is our inspiration. It is one of several design styles created by a company back in Connecticut that specializes in New England style Post and Beam barns. When we talk about dreams, this is pretty high up on my list. Our Woodland Mill is awaiting it's brand new blades and Erreck will begin milling the timber needed for this beautiful build.