FAQs

Courses

How long will I have access to my course for?

You can access your course at any time. There is no expiry for the courses on www.orchardpeople.com. 

Can I share my course login and password with others?

Please don’t. When you sign up for a course, you agree that your login is for personal use only. If you are interested in a group membership, we can arrange that at a discounted price.

How much is a group membership?

If you have 10 or more people who you know will want access to the Beginner Fruit Tree Care course on this website, we will give you a discount of 50% per person. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Content

How is the content of your workshops different from the free material available on the internet about fruit tree care?

Very different. Some of the content about fruit tree care that you find on the Internet is excellent. Other content is incorrect, confusing or misleading. This website has been developed specifically to make urban fruit tree care easy and accessible to anyone. I don’t use technical language. I choose methods that are easy to implement. And I teach by drawing on the lessons of community orchardists across North America.

How is the content of orchardpeople.com’s E-Learning different than the content in your book “Growing Urban Orchards”.

“Growing Urban Orchards” gives you a great overview of organic fruit tree care for city growers and it weaves stories of Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard together with lessons about how to care for your fruit trees. OrchardPeople.com’s online Beginner Fruit Tree Care course goes into more depth and the video format allows me to illustrate difficult concepts like pruning using photographs and videos. OrchardPeople.com’s blog also includes lots of extra content including video interviews with experts on everything from the best cold-hardy fruit trees to the best tasting apples in the west! You can check out some of these materials by exploring the blog its free resources.

If I have any questions about the content of your online workshops, can I email you?

Yes of course! Your questions will help me further improve my videos because if there is something that’s not clear to you, many others will feel the same! I’m constantly improving my material, adding videos, pictures and more, so I’m happy to hear your questions and feedback.

Can I send you pictures of my fruit trees and the problems I have had with them?

Sure! I will be happy to write you back and may also feature your question in my blog.

Your book is called “Growing Urban Orchards”. What if I have a fruit tree and I don’t live in the city?

Lucky you! If you live in a rural environment, chances are that your tree will enjoy slightly better conditions including better soil and less damage from pollution and salt. However, even if you live in the country, you can learn the key fruit tree care skills by reading my book Growing Urban Orchards and my online Beginner Fruit Tree Care Course will be helpful for you too.

Who are OrchardPeople.com's Beginner Fruit Tree Care course designed for?

It is designed for anyone who wants to grow fruit organically and who does not know how. And because I write for the layperson, you’ll learn what you need to know even if you have no previous gardening or tree care experience. But hobby farmers and master gardeners have also learned from my workshops. These workshops are appropriate for anyone who wants to learn how to grow organic fruit.

What if I want to learn advanced fruit tree care?

I am constantly adding content to this membership website including fantastic interviews with experts, profiles of community orchards around the world, and more. Soon this website will have an online grafting workshop and I’m developing a intermediate class in in pest and disease prevention and other topics. If you sign up for our newsletter you’ll be notified each month about new material added to the site.

What if I sign up and don’t like your course?

You have 30 days to check out my course and if you do not like it, I will give you your money back – guaranteed! I’d also love to hear your suggestions on how I can improve my workshops so feel free to give me feedback when you write for your refund.

How often do you write your newsletter?

I send out my newsletter once a month to update you on workshops and give you links to fruit tree care news and events. If you want to be in touch more often, do follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Google +.

How do I get my community, school or church orchard featured in your blog?

 Send me an email and tell me your story! Remember to include photographs of your orchard activities. Send me your telephone number so I can contact you with follow up questions and chosen stories will appear in upcoming posts in the blog on this website.

Fruit Tree Care

What’s the big deal about growing urban orchards? Why is it different than growing orchards or fruit trees anywhere else?

Urban orchards come with their own unique – and serious – challenges. As you watch the videos you will realize how poor our urban soil is as a result of extensive development, bad building practices, pollution, the overuse of salt, and much more. So urban fruit trees need a little tender loving care and that’s what I teach you to provide.

I’ve heard online about experts who suggest that if you have the right hardy and disease resistant tree you don’t need to take care of it.

Hey, there are “experts” online who will tell you lots of stuff. The question is, is it true? Or are these people using these claims as a marketing tool to sell their trees? They may be right, but if that was the case, wouldn’t we all be making our fortune by planting care-free orchards? All the experts that I have worked with and learned from believe that even the most hardy fruit tree needs hands-on care. Do you have a fantastic care-free tree? Contact us and tell us about it!

I know of old neglected orchards that still produce great fruit. So what’s all this talk about fruit trees needing hands on care?

Once established, fruit trees can be very tough and they can sometimes live for over 100 years. But in order to be strong and resilient, they need a lot of hands-on care when they are young. Fruit trees are like babies – feed them nutritious food and nurture them when they are young and they are more likely to be healthy in their mature years. But if you neglect them when they are young they are much less likely to thrive.

Are all the pest control techniques you teach us to use environmentally friendly?

I teach you methods that are used in organic orchards in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. But this isn’t a perfect world and if used incorrectly even these organic methods can be damaging to the environment. That’s why it’s essential to learn how to use these products properly so you can protect yourself, protect your tree, and protect your environment.

There are some organic pest control tools that you do not mention in your workshops. Why?

Here in Ontario, you need a pesticide license to use some of the organic products that work well on fruit trees. Kaolin Clay is an example of that. So, I focus on tools that you can easily buy from a local garden centre and safely use. There are other sprays that I do not discuss in my beginners workshop but I will cover in my intermediate pest and disease control workshop.

Can you recommend one fruit tree that would be great for anyone to plant?

Sorry! The type of fruit tree that will thrive in your yard and in your conditions will be very different from the type of fruit tree that might thrive in my yard. That’s why you shouldn’t believe anyone who tells you that they can sell you a tree that is perfect in any and all conditions. The “How to Choose a Fruit Tree” module in my Beginner Fruit Tree Care course takes you through the process of choosing and sourcing the best tree for you. You can see a number of free videos in the workshop by clicking here.

I have inherited a mature fruit tree and it’s a mess. Can it be saved?

It depends. In the Winter and Summer Pruning module of my Beginner Fruit Tree Care Course I explain how you can prune a messy, older fruit tree gently each year and in 4 years you may find it’s a better, healthier and more productive tree. But if your tree has been badly stricken with disease problems it might be better to cut it down and to start fresh. You can see a few videos on pruning and on pest control in my blog.

Your Beginner Fruit Tree Care course seems focused on planting and caring for new fruit trees. Is it a waste of my time to sign up if I have a more mature tree?

No…It’s true that I devote a number of lessons to choosing a fruit tree and young tree care and that’s simply because young trees need more attention than older trees. But you will learn techniques for pruning mature trees, nutrition management and preventing pests and disease and I also include interviews with experts on the difference between caring for older trees and caring for young trees.

I had an arborist prune my tree once. Why didn’t it make the problems better?

Most arborists are not trained in fruit tree care or fruit tree pruning – a technique that is very different than that used to prune native or ornamental trees. Instead, you should seek help from an expert who is knowledgeable about fruit trees. Depending on where you live, they may be hard to find! In that case, you might want to sign up for my workshops and then have a contractor prune your tree according to your instructions!

I heard organically grown fruit trees in the city are a mess.

Fruit trees can be messy if you do not actively take care of them. Fruit trees need monitoring and hands on care. Pest and disease problems can be nipped in the bud if they are recognized early on. But once a problem is too widespread, it can be very difficult to treat it using organic tools.

If fruit trees grow in nature, why can’t I just let nature take care of my tree?

Well, most common fruit trees, like apples and pears, are native to Kazakhstan, a republic in Central Asia, so if you live in Kazakhstan and have a native apple tree in your yard that was grown from seed, perhaps it will need less care. But in North America and in Europe and the rest of the world, most fruit trees are not native. Furthermore, most fruit tree varieties are actually man-made. They are created after someone fuses together a branch from a tree with tasty fruit onto the roots of another tree. So, while it would be great if fruit trees could take care of themselves perfectly without our help, it’s not really the case.

If fruit trees are not native to our region, why is it important to plant them?

There are some purists out there who believe that we should only plant native trees. I’m a strong proponent of native trees as they are well adapted to our environment and provide food and shelter for wildlife. But I’m also a big fan of local, sustainable food. By growing our fruit locally we cut down on the need to import fruit from far away. Imported food comes at a high cost: we have to fly or ship this food from other countries and these “food miles” result in increased air pollution and decreased nutrition.

Can’t we just develop our own native fruit tree varieties by planting fruit seeds and seeing what happens from there?

Absolutely! But to do that you need a lot of space and a lot of time. If you plant an apple seed, for instance, it will take 5 or more years until it starts producing fruit and due to genetic diversity, the chances are that the fruit it produces will be hard, sour and almost inedible. If you have the space to plant 100 apple seeds and you are willing to wait five or more years to see how their fruit tastes, you may get lucky with one or more of your trees producing tasty fruit. I think it’s a great idea, but in my small yard I’d rather grow a tree that is guaranteed to produce tasty fruit. You can learn more about this in the “Researching, Sourcing and Buying Your Fruit Tree” module in my Beginner Fruit Tree Care course.

I have a fruit tree on my property that produces great fruit and I don’t care for it at all!

You’re lucky! You might have inherited a mature tree from an owner who nurtured that tree well when it was young. And if you just moved into your home, the fruit may taste great for the first few years. But after a few years of neglect, you may find your fruit gets buggier, or less sweet. It may produce less fruit. Older trees are tougher than young trees, but even they need hands-on care.

About Susan Poizner

You are not a scientist or a biologist. Why should I trust that you are teaching me relevant fruit tree care skills?

You know the saying: “You learn from your mistakes”? Well, over the years I have made just about every mistake in the book when it comes to fruit tree care and have I ever learned from those mistakes. I’m hoping my workshops will help you skip that step in the learning process. Instead of making the mistakes yourself, you can learn from my stories or the stories of other orchardists across the country. Considering fruit trees take years to establish themselves and produce a decent harvest, wouldn’t it be nice to get it right, right from the start? Also, while I’m not an expert myself, I have spent years interviewing and learning from experts. Instead my skills include research and communication and so I’m able to take difficult concepts and communicate them in a clear and entertaining way so everyone can understand.

What if I want to invite you to speak to my group about fruit trees and orchard care?

I’d love to! Contact me to find out more about what it would involve to come to your region to teach you and your group.

Can I contact you for help in taking care of my fruit tree?

Sure, if you live in the Toronto area, I’d be happy to help. Through my company Orchard People I can come to trouble-shoot your tree, I can take soil samples and have your soil tested, and more. If your tree needs pruning, I can recommend another contractor to do it.

What is the link between Orchard People and Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard?

Me! I am one of the founders of the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard and I am also the coordinator of Growing for Green, the group that planted the orchard and who currently takes care of it. Over the years, many people from around Toronto and across North America have contacted me to find out how to establish community orchards in their municipalities. This led me to found Orchard People, a fruit tree consulting and education company here in Toronto. For more information about me, check out this page. And to learn more about Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard, visit our blog.

What do I do if I have a question you haven’t answered here?

Send it to us at the contact above! We’d love to hear from you and we are working to make this FAQ more complete.