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A remnant of an orchard..signs to an old way of life
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welcome to Our Orchard
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The land that is now called Mountain Roots Orchard most likely never even had a name, but, it certainly has never been without character. It is a name we felt fitting to a place that has stood the test of time from the Gold Rush to Today. It was once part of a large property that existed long before Hwy 95 was constructed. There are stories that have traveled over time of the stage coach traveling from Riggins to New Meadows stopping here during the winter time to change from wheels to sleigh runners. It’s heritage is from a time when orchards and farms were what everyone did as a necessity to live. The original house burnt down in the early 1900s and it’s stone chimney stood tall for almost 100 years until it fell or was demolished. An out-of-the blue visit from an 80 year old lady, who said she grew up here, was an eye opening moment into how special this heritage property is. She didn’t stay long but she did share some wonderful stories of how she remembered it used to be. Some leather halters and ropes have been uncovered in the gardens, as a testament to how her family used animals to develop the land. Thankfully, the horse her dad buried has never resurfaced! The existing house was remodeled and the guest cabin was built by a new owner in the 1940s-50s. Since then, the property has changed hands about a dozen times.
In 2011, Gautam and YaVonna Komminani, while living in Houston, seized the opportunity to purchase the property, now named Mountain Roots Orchard, and moved back to be closer to family in Idaho. YaVonna lived on the property as a child and had many fond memories of abundant fruit trees, berries, and wildlife, but little was recognizable due to neglect and drastic changes made to the landscape that altered the natural flora of what made it so harmonious. Many of the original fruit trees died away leaving just a handful left. After the first year of living on the property, Gautam and YaVonna decided to make it their goal to restore as much of the rich history as possible and try to create a sustainable living from the property. With the help of family and friends, the orchard is once again being useful in providing food and well-being to neighbors and travelers. It’s has been a slow process that is only in the beginning phases, but, each year brings enriching experiences, increasing abundance, and hope.
From 2012-2017, In just 2-3 acres of the 60 acre mountainous terrain, over 40 Apple, Cherry, Pear, & Hazelnut trees were planted, as well as, over 50 Apple & Pear rootstocks for future plantings. Also, over 1500 Blueberries, Raspberries (Red, Yellow, & Black), & Gooseberries were planted. Unconventional methods were used to combat the elements of a high altitude and rugged landscape. Some of the trees and plants are watered by swales that capture as much of the snow melt and rains as possible as it travels down the mountain. The berry patches were planted in tight hedges in deep beds of peat moss and compost then covered with a thick blanket of composted sawdust. During the dry spells of Idaho summers, a nearby stream provides much needed irrigation. In 2017, a local specialty foods company “Wild Mountain Berries” was purchased and a new processing kitchen was built on the property in anticipation of future harvests. Fruits and vegetables grown on site can now be turned into delicious farm to table products.
2018 marks a very important stage in the growth of the orchard. The new processing kitchen will be put to good use making fresh, homemade products, such as, jams, syrups, infused vinegars, pie fillings, and anything else that can be preserved, bottled, or dried. The fruit tree rootstocks will be ready for a first time grafting and one of the favorite heirloom trees on the property will be selected. None of the heirloom trees have been identified so it will be a major goal to begin that process and get some names to the faces of the fruits.
History is still living at Mountain Roots Orchard and we hope to inspire people to seek out the heritage of wherever they are. Come visit us and share in our little piece of history!
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Take a closer look at what we do here at Mountain Roots Orchard by visiting our Gardens and Nursery page. There is an array of products we offer on our Wild Mountain Berries website and direct from the Orchard in our Farm Store (open June-October).
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