Conservation Project to Bring Heirloom Apples Back to Western Slope
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
CORTEZ, Colo. -- A 36-acre property near Cortez in southwestern Colorado soon will be transformed into a sustainable community apple "orchard hub."
With help from The Nature Conservancy, the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project was able to purchase the land . Jude Schuenemeyer, who co-directs the project, said they'll use beneficial insects instead of pesticides to protect the apple trees, and underneath, there will be a range of native wildflowers to create a safe space for pollinators to refuel.
"You start to create an ecosystem there," he said, "and, within that ecosystem, it's a place where all the different species of bees can be in there without getting sprayed out and killed."
Plans for a hybrid water system, using native grasses throughout the orchard with roots up to nine feet long, will create a natural underground reservoir, conserving water in an area prone to prolonged drought.
The project also aims to restore the region's historic apple varieties that industrial-scale production discarded years ago in favor of mono-culture harvests that can travel cross country. Schuenemeyer said Colorado's booming cider industry, and consumers looking for fruit grown closer to home, should help the orchard become a key contributor to the local economy.
"The pandemic right now has really opened people's eyes, and forced people's eyes open in a way they hadn't been, to where food is coming from and how the food chain works," he said. "So there's just a lot of factors that make this more viable than it used to be."
Within a decade, Schuenemeyer said, he hopes kids who are now learning to manage sustainable orchards in Cortez elementary and middle schools will take the reins and keep the region's agricultural traditions alive and strong.
"They'll grow up knowing the skills of the water conservation," he said, "and how to manage these orchards in a way that is holistic -- that works with the land, that works with the environment, instead of trying to fight against it."
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Advocates for people with disabilities in New York are pushing for the federal budget resolution to include $400 billion in Medicaid …
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Freshwater mussels are key to keeping the Chesapeake Bay watershed clean, and with more than half of all species now facing …
BUFFALO, Wyo. -- The doors of five historic community halls across Johnson and Sheridan counties were opened this past weekend for 15 people curious …
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Massive wildfires in the Western U.S. and Canada have triggered poor air quality in North Carolina over the past few weeks, and …
BOISE, Idaho -- Rallies are taking place across the Northwest to support salmon, which face dire conditions in the Columbia River Basin. Saturday…
IXONIA, Wis. -- The public comment period has ended, but opponents of proposed natural gas storage facilities in southeastern Wisconsin still hope to …
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvanians are growing worried about the environmental consequences of natural-gas drilling in the state, according to a new …
DES MOINES, Iowa -- When Iowans register to vote or cast their ballot, the forms are usually just in English. A civil rights group argued the state …