Agrarian Sharing Network: collaboratively supporting neighborhood propagation fairs across the PNW

Supporting Neighborhood Interdependence


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Propagation Fairs Go Online

SPRING PROPAGATION FAIRS 2020

Greetings, Beloved Community!

Four years ago Agrarian Sharing Network (ASN) was born out of the long running Lane Propagation Fair from a need to bring the event from a regional spectator-style event to a neighborhood focused event with targeted varieties specific to each of our unique nooks of this bioregion. Friend of all, enemy of none, the vision of the ASN has always been that is as much about the people as it’s about the plants.

This year we seen events not seen for a century that have led organizers to be forced to cancel our public events, but that doesn’t mean we’ve going away! ASN has always been resilient and scrappy, so we adapt! Yes, it is true we can’t have in-person propagation fairs this year, but do not fret – the ASN is not giving up! Our volunteers have worked out a way to bring fruit trees to you this Spring by instead be offering virtual propagation fairs.

This year your support of the ASN is more important than ever in order to continue our mission. Our volunteers are making trees available for curbside pickup on the date and time advertised for your area. Please follow the below links for your area to order a grafted tree or extra root stock, and to see pickup times and locations.

Thank you for your continued support of our mission. We love you!

Participating Locations

  • Sweet Home
  • Bethel (coming soon!)
  • River (coming soon!)


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2020 Events Schedule

SPRING PROPAGATION FAIRS
Cottage Grove: Sunday,  March 8,  11-3, Cottage Grove Armory
Portland (HOS): Sunday, March 15, 10-4, Clackamas Fair Grounds
Williams: Sunday, March 15, 11-3, SCA Pavillion
Sweet Home: Sunday, March 22, 1-4, Sweet Home Charter School
Redmond WA: Saturday,  March 28,  10-1, Church of the Holy Cross
Bethel: Friday, April 3, 5:30-7, Peterson Barn Community Ctr.
River Road: Saturday, April 4, 2-5, River Road Community Ctr.


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ASN’s Scion-collection database.

Scion collection

We need scion cuttings from established, IDENTIFIED varieties of fruit trees to distribute through our regional propagation fairs. If you have cuttings to donate, please watch the cutting and storage instructional video below. Here’s a link to our scion-collection database. Another 100% volunteer-driven effort from ASN. Please enter details of scion you have collected in our google form database, here. If that isn’t working, try here.

Call for volunteers!

Our propagation fairs are 100% volunteer driven, and we need your help to keep it all working. If you have time and energy to give, and would like to meet an amazing bunch of people, sign up here.


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Scion-collection: a primer

 

‘Scion’ is the horticultural name used to describe the cuttings taken from fruit trees which are then grafted on to rootstock to create new fruit trees. This is how fruit trees such as ‘Granny Smith’ apples or ‘Bing’ cherries are ‘made’. Named fruit trees (or ‘cultivars’ or ‘varieties’) are cloned, not grown from seed.

Though there exist many videos describing how to graft fruit trees, very few describe scion collection. This video, made for the Agrarian Sharing Network, provides a basic primer on everything you need to know to collect and store scion well, for your own grafting needs and for those of your larger community.

Cutting and storing scion is a simple task. Here are a few pointers:

Be very careful with ID and labeling – collect from trees that have fruited already so the variety is known. Preferably, cut scion about the diameter of a lead pencil, to 12” lengths, although shorter pieces are fine. ’Pruning cuttings’ often fit the bill perfectly. Tightly tie or rubber-band a dozen or so healthy cuttings in a clearly-labeled bundle.
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Collecting scion is time-sensitive. Scion wood needs to be cut in the winter while it is dormant (before the buds have very visibly begun swelling), then kept cool until it is grafted onto rootstock in the spring, ‘when the sap is rising’. Here, in the maritime Pacific-Northwest, late-January-early-February sees the end of our ‘dormancy collection window’ for stone-fruit such as peaches, plums and cherries. Asian and European pears quickly follow, then apples. Some varieties of these crops types ‘bud out’ earlier or later than most.

Vigorous shoots are best but avoid collecting from suckers or water-sprouts (these shoots, which grow vertically from the base of the tree or vertically from lateral branches, are slowest to bear fruit). Collect first-year wood (last year’s growth) preferably from laterals. Next-favored are the terminal shoots at the top of the tree.

Once collected, don’t let the scion dry out. Experienced hands will tend to label each variety clearly, place it in a moist (not saturated) medium such as paper towels or old cloth, and wrap in plastic. (The plastic bags the newspaper comes in work well. Double the bag because one will often have a hole in it.) Place in the refrigerator at about 34° to 38° until grafting time: keeping the scion cool keeps it dormant; keeping it damp, keeps it fresh.

Further curiosty about scion collection? Google: “Penhallegon scion” or write to our Facebook group, Agrarian Sharing Network.


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Farewell Lane County Propagation Fair. Welcome the Agrarian Sharing Network!

2017 sees the evolution of the venerable Lane County Propagation Fair into an entirely new iteration. Eight years ago we morphed the teensy Eugene Permaculture Guild spring-seedswap into the Lane County Propagation Fair. This free, 100% volunteer-driven initiative has since grown into the largest organics-focused propagation fair in the country.

All well and good. But the popularity of our Eugene-based prop fair has brought an unintended consequence: we’ve become something of a centralized ‘commodity event’ where folks happily turn up in great numbers to connect with a vast diversity of germplasm, but not with each other. As it happens, a defining ethic informing our local seed/scion exchange since we began it over 20 years ago, relates not only to the ecological, but the social dimensions crucial to the deep eco-social functionality of such events: “…In cultures typified by mutual caring… Seed swaps and seed giveaways are seen not only as strengthening seed culture, but as critical to nurturing and rekindling intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic relations.”

It is this human dimension – the nurturing of relations between and among communities – which was feeling lost to us and with it, of course, the accompanying awareness of the requirements and responsibilities of assuring such efforts are not only socially but ecologically sustainable. Indeed, along with the increasing ‘depersonalization’ of the event, we have concurrently witnessed our access to germplasm – largely concentrated in a handful of non-profit collections supported by the work of a tiny group of volunteers – progressively succumb to decline, restricted access and, indeed, catastrophic loss.

Simply put, no matter how ‘successful’ our event seemed to outsiders, core organizers were aware we had created a phenomenon failing to connect people – which was also, in the same breath, inherently ecologically unsustainable. In a sense, we had created an event hanging by a fast-fraying thread.

As such, after much in the way of group discussion in the aftermath of last year’s propagation fair, we are embarking on a new approach: namely, we are now in the process of birthing a collaborative network of ‘distributed propagation fairs’, that is, small, de-centralized, neighborhood-scale propagation fairs around our bioregion.

We see this effort to decentralize as crucial to supporting food security across our bioregion, by freely collecting and sharing an unparalleled array of food germplasm through a distributed network of collaborators, while building the know-how and skill sets required to support autonomous, local, self-standing efforts by folks vested in caring for their own and other like-minded communities of interest.

We are currently planning on helping host six propagation fairs around our bioregion throughout March and April.

Our efforts to collect and distribute material throughout Oregon, Washington and California, have already begun. Stay posted for further developments!


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2016 fair preparations

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Pen and paint on scrap paper

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Our first planning meeting. Nick and Chris strategizing scion collecting across our bioregion.

 

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Waiting for the frost to lift off the trees before collecting scion on a sunsplashed January morning in Yoncalla, OR.

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Into the grapes at Nick Botner’s to cut scion.

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Long days cutting and long nights sorting.

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The core group of organizers begins to gather at our traditional meeting venue, New Day Bakery in the Whit.

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This year, our first visit to Queener’s Orchard in Stayton, OR, to collect scion.

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A plumcot, the first fruit tree among thousands to come into full bloom at Nick Botner’s orchard.