Community Orchard of West Seattle searching for fruit-tree expert

Three dozen fruit trees on trellises at the Community Orchard of West Seattle are in need of somebody special to plan their care and their future. Here’s the announcement from COWS:

The Community Orchard of West Seattle, located at the South Seattle Community College North Entrance (6000 16th Ave SW), is currently seeking an Intensive Fruit Trellis Volunteer Coordinator.

Did you know the 1/8-acre Community Orchard site contains 36 dwarf trellised fruit trees? These trees must be weighted and pruned in a very specific manner to stimulate fruit production. When done properly, the trellis can produce incredible apple yields in just 3 years time!

COWS is seeking someone to help plan the next steps for our intensive fruit-tree trellis and other fruit-bearing trees.

The perfect volunteer would be a landscape/horticulture student or experienced gardener with knowledge of fruit=tree care and maintenance.

This person will help to research high-intensive trellis care, and develop a plan for the long-term management of this important resource.

For more information about this volunteer position, please contact the Community Orchard @

4 Replies to "Community Orchard of West Seattle searching for fruit-tree expert"

  • LivesInWS November 5, 2012 (11:40 am)

    Ahem….the trees were planted that way on purpose, yet no one knows how to prune/maintain them?

    I believe what’s referred to is the technique called espalier. It’s been used on apples, pears, and other plants for hundreds of years if not longer. Well-documented in many pruning/gardening books.

    Some good info and a luscious pic of espaliered pears here:

  • WSB November 5, 2012 (1:16 pm)

    Lives, like many projects, this one is a volunteer endeavor. And volunteer-run endeavors go through turnover as much as, if not more than, enterprises where people are paid to work. I know orchestra leadership has changed since the early days and am pretty sure the situation here is that they have a spot that needs to be filled, not that “nobody knows how” … TR

  • grew up in Fauntleroy November 5, 2012 (7:59 pm)

    I would be happy to help you get your fruit trees established. Contact me at
    Please give me a contact person and I will see if I can help you get your trees growing in the right fruitful direction.

  • Narcissa November 6, 2012 (10:41 am)

    Thanks for the comments! To clarify, COWS’ High-Intensity Trellised Orcharding system is different from the traditional trellised espalier form, where a few select side branches are encouraged to grow and thicken horizontally for many years. This HITO system produces high yields quickly and is considered innovative! COWS’ provides a home-scale model that demonstrates how much food/fruit can be grown on a city-sized lot.

    High-Intensity Trellised Orcharding (long read!)

    Modern orchardists today are regularly looking for new and different ways to increase yields on their fields. There are many ways to increase the amount of fruit available on any one tree, and now growers are looking at ways to increase the number of trees on any one piece of available land.

    COWS’ innovative technique, introduced to us by Wade Bennett from Rockridge Orchard & Cidery of Enumclaw, WA, manages to do both at the same time.

    By training apples, Asian pears and European pears in the same way we would train grape vines, we are able to increase the number of trees (placing a tree every 3 feet, instead of one every 10-12 feet), and increase the speed with which each tree bears fruit (branches produce fruit in their 2nd year). Unlike a traditional trellised espalier form, where a few select side branches are encouraged to grow and thicken horizontally for many years, in our system the branches are bent down and tied to the trellis to create a hormonal response in the tree that encourages fruiting buds to form the 2nd year. After the branches bear fruit, they are removed to make way for new branches; most branches are no more than 2 years old.

    We are also using trees grafted to particularly vigorous rootstocks; in our case, Bud 9 (Budagovsky 9) – reducing the size of the trees to 35-40% of normal. It is a very early, very productive rootstock that needs support due to its root structure. It is winter hardy but is susceptible to drought conditions. Bud 9 is very resistant to collar rot, powdery mildew and apple scab, but is susceptible to fire blight, tomato ringspot virus and suckering.

    For commercial applications, this kind of dense planting can be prohibitively expensive, due to the capital investment costs of triple the number of trees, and providing trellises for the trees.

    In a home setting, where there is limited space to fill, this kind of managed growing can offer a high yield quickly with a manageable cost. As a comparison, using standard-sized fruit trees, we could plant 4 trees in our 75’x10’ space, and estimate a yearly 1200 pound yield after 7-10 years. In our high-intensity system, we can expect a yearly yield of 3000 pounds in only 3 years from planting.

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