It is surprisingly rare to find an organic nursery.
Conventional nurseries grow their plants in black plastic pots sitting on black plastic fabric cloth, materials that come from finite resources and are only used once or twice then discarded. Plants grown in pots not only produce more waste but require more energy as they need more water to stay hydrated during the dry season. Not to mention, these conventional nurseries typically use high amounts of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
At Heartwood, trees are grown using minimal off-farm inputs, and I never ever spray or use synthetic chemicals in the nursery. I use compost, biochar, and “goat straw” produced on-farm. I inoclulate each tree with mycorrhizal fungi. Call it “organic”, “holistic”, “permaculture-inspired”, “sustainable”, etc; I just find these methods make good common sense.
About Heartwood Nursery
“Small Is Beautiful.”
This nursery is small-scale, or human-scale. For Heartwood, this means it’s manageable with one or two people. I interact with each plant and have time for careful and thoughtful observations. Being small allows us the time to maintain a personal relationship with the plants, animals, soil, and soil organisms that live within the nursery.
Small-scale empowers us to use low-tech management practices. Using appropriate technology, means using hand tools and very limited to no power tools. Beds are prepped with broadforks and mulched with wheelbarrows; Trees are grafted by hand with single bevel knives; Dormant trees are dug with a spade. Minimizing soil disturbance through low-tech practices encourages microbial life and healthy trees.
Bare Root Basics
At Heartwood, trees are grown in deeply mulched permanent beds. These require zero pots and dramatically less water to stay happy. Deep mulch also transforms into vibrantly rich soil that feeds the plants. No plastic pots means we sell our trees “bare root”.
Bare root trees can only be dug and sold during the dormant season (winter to early spring). This is when the trees are sleeping and can be transplanted with the least disruption possible. Trees planted in this way are less prone to transplant shock. They will have a better start in their first season, being watered in with winter rains before waking up in their new home. Bare root trees require us to deliberately plan our plantings around the dormant season.
Propagator at Large
Logan Fields started Heartwood Nursery in 2018. Propagating fruits and nuts feels like one of the greatest gifts she can offer in a time that needs more nutritious food, slowing down, practice of thoughtful observation and reflection, soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration, and simply, more trees!
After working on annual vegetable farms for several seasons, it wasn’t until stepping into jobs on fruit and nut tree orchards she felt a true calling. The pace, longevity, resiliency, and generosity of perennial plants felt like something to be shared with her greater community. Planting, tending, and encouraging perennial food sources felt like a realization of how we can transform our current food system and restore our environment.
She learned how to graft at Earth’s Rising Nursery, Oregon’s only certified organic fruit tree nursery. There she found great mentorship and a deep respect for the natural simplicity of nursery work and satisfying magic of growing trees.
Logan hopes that she can inspire folks to plant a tree (or two, or three!) not only for themselves but for future generations to enjoy.