2 day class
Guest Instructors: Dan Whitney and Robbi VanTimmeren
Many years ago, most farmers on small, diversified family farms were skilled craftsmen in many areas essential to sustaining their families and communities. One area of skill that most old-time farmers were adept at is grafting. Grafting is the process of joining two plants together to grow as one by placing a portion of one plant (bud or scion) into or on a stem, root, or branch of another (stock) in such a way that a union is formed and the partners will continue to grow.
These essential skills allowed them to be able to reproduce and improve many different types of trees so that their farms could be more self-sustaining. Plant and tree nurseries were rare, and most small farmers could not afford to purchase the trees for their farm. Therefore, they used the skill of grafting to reproduce desirable trees from their own or neighbors’ stock. Sadly, these skills have diminished among the general population and consequently many old, heirloom and locally-adapted tree varieties are increasingly difficult to find.
For almost a quarter of a century, The Ploughshare Institute of Sustainable Culture has endeavored to rediscover and teach many of these diminishing or even lost skills necessary for sustaining life and agrarian culture. To that end, we are offering a two-day intensive, hands-on workshop on grafting. The instructors in this workshop will teach all of the essential aspects of grafting such as:
- the reason for and necessity of grafting
- eight types of graft and budding techniques
- when to graft or bud
- how to select, collect, prepare and store graft wood
- the necessary tools, materials and supplies.
Again, this workshop will be hands-on, with the instructors spending time with each student to impart these vital skills. In addition, scion wood and rootstock (some of which are heirloom varieties) will be available for students to purchase for their own homesteads.
Our lead instructor for this workshop is Dan Whitney from near Yakima, Washington. Dan began grafting as a child working alongside his father in apple orchards in Washington State. Establishing the business in 1948, his father worked in orchards throughout the Northwest US, and now Dan and his crew travel all across the US providing grafting services to many farmers and fruit and nut growers. Able to handle both large and small orders, they literally do hundreds of thousands of bench grafts in their facility each year as well as hundreds of thousands of field grafts in clients’ orchards (www.whitneysgrafting.com).
Dan will be assisted by Robbi VanTimmeren. Robbi grew up on a family farm and is a fifth-generation apple grower in western Michigan. She graduated from college in Wyoming where she later worked for the National Park Service and National Forest Service. Returning to western Michigan she began working for a well-known orchardist and researcher at Michigan State University and learned the age-old skill of grafting. After the retirement of her mentor, Robbi continued the grafting business with her husband and children, providing grafting services for farmers throughout Michigan and the eastern US.
Class Time: 9:00am-5:00pm each day
Tuition: $250 (includes materials)
Attendance is limited to 24 students and we anticipate filling this class early so you may not want to delay registering for this class.
Please bring a wide-brimmed hat and wear long sleeves. Also, bring appropriate clothing for cold or inclement weather. No shorts or sandals, please.
All our classes close 24 hours before the class date with the exception of classes that start on Monday, which will close the Friday before. If there’s a class that closed early that you’d like to attend, please call us at 254-754-9620 to check for availability.