The Fruit Orchard at Sleepy Cat Farm

The Fruit Orchard at Sleepy Cat Farm

Photo: Peach Ice Cream, Plum Sherbet and Raspberry Sorbet, made by SCF owners wife, Seen, a professional chef!

Having never had the opportunity to grow my own tree fruit, I was excited to return to Sleepy Cat Farm and learn more about this endeavor.

The 24 plus fruit trees at Sleepy Cat Farm are cared for by Alan Haigh, owner of the Home Orchard Company. Alan nurtures the young trees in his nursery and suggests varieties that will do well in this area. He and his assistants will prune, graft, make recommendations for a minimal spray program, as well as offer consults throughout the season and set up squirrel baffles on the trees if necessary.

Our job is to patrol the orchard, weed as needed and provide bird protection when necessary. The predators of fruit in our area are numerous — birds, squirrels, chipmunks and a variety of insect and disease pests all make for a challenging season.

Netting the trees to prevent bird damage is not as easy as it sounds — applied too early (as I learned) and the trees grow through the net and make management difficult. Too late and one suffers damage. This year we utilized scare eye balloons and reflective tape (at Mr. Haigh’s suggestion) and it seemed to work, although I learned later that I had not set them up properly. Though tedious to apply, we bagged the fruit on an Asian Pear with breathable fabric bags, which also seems to be working.

The Orchard contains Cherries, Peaches, Pears, Apples, Plums, Nectarines, Mulberry, Elderberry and Quince, and a large pre-existing Asian Chestnut with delicious nuts. We also have an enclosed berry garden with potted Figs and Citrus that are overwintered in a beautiful stone building called “The Limonaia”. Blueberries are at a location close to the vegetable garden and are netted seasonally from the birds.

Much of the fruit is processed by the owner’s wife, Seen, a professional Chef. I had the pleasure of tasting the most delicious peach ice cream this year from an amazing peach crop.

The Orchard will be open for the garden tour on 9/17, come see for yourself and have your questions answered.

Alan Gorkin