Sustainability at Liberty Apple Orchard
Sustainability at Liberty Apple Orchard means striving for a balance between providing high quality, local fresh fruit while also preserving the environment, supporting the local economy and serving our community. Specifically, we:
- Preserve our environment by employing a five-part integrated pest management program,
- Support the regional economy by employing local high school and college students along with a few retirees, and
- Serve the community through educational programs for school and civic groups and provide food bank donations.
Preserving the Environment
At Liberty Apple Orchard we utilize sustainable practices appropriate for the local ecosystem with apple varieties that fit our environment. These practices include:
- Native pollinator habitats and a “butterfly” garden
- Soil sampling and analysis
- Drip irrigation around most of the trees
- Mulch for weed control and water retention
- Cover crops of turf and clover for the bees
- Eight hives of honeybees at the orchard
- Eighteen varieties of apples for crop diversity
- Pheromone traps for insect trapping and monitoring & mating disruption
- Orchard sanitation
- Disease and insect control using computer models from leading universities.
We strive to sustain our orchard for the long-term through integrated pest management (IPM). We think about IPM in five parts:
- The orchard environment: Our orchard is located in an area that receives a great deal of wind which is good for managing insect pests and diseases. We also have well-water drip irrigation around our trees for dry spells and leave a cover crop of grass and clover around the trees. The slightly rolling contours of our land provide good air and water drainage.
- Cultivars: We grow varieties that were developed for our climate, which can be a bit hot and humid! These varieties include Goldrush (the Illinois State apple), Enterprise, Liberty, Crimson Crisp, Pixie Crunch and Jonafree.
- Pruning: a natural and organic method to control pests by promoting good air movement and allowing sunlight into the tree. With our high school and college students, we prune throughout the winter and also do some additional summer pruning to open up the trees to sunlight for apple ripening.
- Sanitation: Our sanitation practices in the orchard include removing bad apples from the trees as well as picking up “drops” on the orchard floor. While these practices are somewhat unique, we take this extra step to control pests and diseases and provide a more pleasing experience for our guests. We ask our guests to throw any apple cores into the surrounding fields or swale to be eaten by wildlife or decompose naturally.
- Protectants: We use a combination of organic and conventional protectant sprays as needed to control pests, diseases, weeds and wildlife. We time and target our protectant applications using software programs developed by Cornell University. We also obtain weekly guidance from plant pathologists and entomologists at Purdue University, Michigan State, Penn State, North Carolina State and the University of Illinois. We adhere to all EPA requirements, participate in applicator training and hold a license from Illinois to safely apply organic and synthetic products. Only municipal water is used in applications on our trees, as recommended by the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2015.
Local apple orchards have an attractive environmental footprint compared with fruit from Washington and more distant orchards. According to the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell University, apple orchards have several positive environmental impacts: “an acre of orchard each season fixes about 20 tons of CO2 from the air [and] releases 15 tons of oxygen.” In contrast to local Illinois orchards, those in Washington State use extensive piping and pumps for watering 24x7 through the season (all with CO2 impacts from energy, steel, copper and concrete for major dams), controlled atmosphere warehouses for storage (CO2 impact of concrete, steel, and energy for refrigeration), and trucks to transport the produce to markets nearly 2000 miles away (CO2 impact from diesel fuel and steel). Source: “How Big is the Fruit Growing Footprint,” Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.
No "Field Access" or parking fee. Pay only for what you pick at our family orchard!
8308 Kuhn Station Rd, Edwardsville, IL 62025