Bruce Lloyd, of the WVU Extension Service held a tree pruning demonstration on Monday, March 11 at 5 p.m. at the Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital Urban Orchard behind the Hospital on Rt. 33 west of Weston.
Seventeen gardeners and arborists attended the informative session organized by SJMH marketing director Julia Spelsberg.
“We were really quite pleased with the turnout,” explained Spelsberg. “There was a little nip in the air but the weather was great and Bruce did an excellent job showing the amateurs about the proper way to prune a young orchard. We are really fortunate to have someone has well educated as Bruce here in the County.”
The urban orchard was planted by students from Lewis County High School in the botany class of Samantha Rogers in spring 2017. Local gardener Becky Wine led the group of gardeners.
The orchard was made possible by a grant from the Try This Conference, an annual event held in Buckhannon. In the past, Spelsberg has obtained grants to create and improve playgrounds in Weston as a way to fight the obesity epidemic. This is an issue discovered when SJMH created a community assessment in 2013 and 2016. Another aspect for creating healthy lifestyle choices was to create healthy foods and that is why the urban orchard was started.
The trees are young so Bruce explained how to prune trees in the first few years to establish a strong framework of branches to support fruit loads later on. While there is not typically much pruning to do on each tree at this young age, this pruning is like the foundation of a building — important for long-term success.
Lloyd also explained the difference between pruning for a tree such as an apple, which uses a central leader pruning system and a cherry tree, which uses an open-center system to allow sunshine to reach all the inner branches.