by Nicki Wood
Mind you, it's just an experiment, what with all the "ifs," but if the "fruit bonds" being sold to fund Stewart Orchard sell well and nature cooperates, then in a couple of years, Nashvillians could be picking berries and tree fruit in Davidson County.
It's an idea that has a lot of people pretty enthusiastic, none more so than grower Tatum Stewart, who sells his Ashland City-grown fruit at the West Nashville Farmers Market. Stewart hopes interested Nashvillians will buy a "fruit bond" to fund a new orchard in Bells' Bend. Using an intensive new technique, he's planting almost 700 peach trees and 150 apple trees this winter on 20 acres offered by a Bells' Bend landowner. The technique involves trellising and irrigation, and the payoff is that the first crops should be ready for picking in two years.
Obviously the expenses are front-end intensive, and that's where the fruit bond funding comes in. Buy a $30, $60 or $100 five-year bond, and your money goes to creating an orchard for Davidson County.
In return, you get an annual "dividend" of fruit for five years, including blackberries, apples and/or peaches, the kind and amount depending on which bond you buy. Details after the jump.
Thirty dollars will buy you two quarts of berries, five pounds of peaches, or a peck of apples each year, for a total of 10 quarts of berries, 25 pounds of peaches or five pecks (about 55 pounds) of apples over five years. A $60 bond gets two fruits a year, so 10 quarts of berries and 25 pounds of peaches or 55 pounds of apples in five years. A $100 bond gets all three, plus a bonus.
"You can split [your dividend} up in time — you don't have to have all five pounds at once. You can wait a few weeks until there's another variety. And the bond is fully transferable. The fruit goes with the bond, not the person," says Stewart.
Stewart currently grows on a farm in Ashland City, and his Arkansas Black apples were sensational. The plan is for the Bells Bend property to be a pick-your-own orchard. Peach trees grown by the intensive method should be bearing in two years, and berries, which will be planted next year, should bear right away. Eventually Stewart aims for cherry and pear trees at the Bell's Bend farm.
For more information on the bond, including ways to buy one, go to the farm's blog link above, or email stewartorchard11(at)gmail(dot)com.