Gardeners get tutored on organic orchard care

AFP Correspondent

MARKSBORO — With trees and flowers blooming early in northern New Jersey, about 10 enthusiastic gardeners and farmers gathered for a class on organic orchard care presented by Peter Tischler at Genesis Farm in Marksboro, Frelinghuysen Township.
One of the students was Diana Skoss of Windsong Farm in Warren Township.
When Skoss bought the former Farmer John’s on King George Road, one of the earliest organic farms in New Jersey, she began the process of restoring the farm and its apple orchard.
“I inherited one old Newton tree, Pippins and one mystery apple,” she said, “and some trees I don’t know. I also inherited Wanda.”
Wanda Knapik lives nearby and has a business consulting gardeners and designing permaculture.  She attended the class with Skoss.
“I’m going to plant an orchard,” Skoss said, adding she owns 7.63 acres, some of which is wooded.
“I’m going to create a member-supported farm rather than a CSA. Maybe. It’s evolving. I want people to have choice.”
Her former profession was publishing, but she was involved with the Wagner Farm Community Garden and is a member of NOFA-NJ as well as the Green Team for her township’s Sustainable Jersey program.
“I was here for Peter’s grafting class,” she said.
Knapik said she and Skoss are learning together.
She is also going to bring some of her students out to Windsong to learn by doing.
Tischler spent the sunny day discussing all aspects of organic orchards and provided plenty of handouts for his students who also included local farmers Sylvia Kovacs of Independence Township and Jean Smolha of Frelinghuysen Township.