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Midwest Fruit Explorers
Garden Club for Backyard Fruit Growers
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Introduction Blueberries North Apple Bed Panaromic View Dwarf Conclusion
Gene's Answers Train a Mini-Dwarf Favorite Apples Map of Backyard

MidFEx, short for Midwest Fruit Explorers, is a non-profit organization of amateur backyard fruit growing enthusiasts.  Most of our members live in the counties surrounding Chicago.

Gene’s 40” apple tree (click to take a tour)
We are crazy about the best tasting, most flavorful fruits that grow well here. We are also interested in growing special, superior and unusual fruits regardless of their appearance or commercial appeal.  This includes little known varieties of apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes and nuts; and more unusual fruits such as the pawpaw, mulberry, persimmon, fig, juneberry, Asian pear, and hardy kiwi.  Our members locate, graft, propagate, test, grow and swap these superior fruiting plants, and then get together and share their knowledge.

MidFEx has a video depository located at midfex at vimeo.com.  Here you will find videos covering topics such as t-bud/chip bud grafting techniques.

Members receive the Grapevine, our periodic newsletter.
The March 2020 Grapevine was distributed to email recipients on 03/05/20 and mailed to USPS recipients on 03/06/20. Archived copies of the Grapevine can be viewed on the Members Only page.
  • ***CANCELED*** Grafting Workshop: Session #1  
    Based on recommendations from state and local public health officials to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the College of DuPage has cancelled all events until May and the Chicago Botanic Garden has cancelled all public gatherings (classes, lectures, etc) through the end of March.

    Public health agencies are advising to avoid unnecessary person-to-person meetings at least through the end of March.

    After March 29th, the MidFEx board will review opportunities to make rootstock, grafting supplies, and scion wood available to members. Please continue to collect and store scion wood adhering to the guidelines posted in the March Grapevine.

    Event Description: Find out what grafting fruit tress is all about.  Learn the the whys and hows with experienced grafters.  We will also have an impressive amount of scion wood available for grafting.  If you’d like more information about grafting see the Grafting Page.

    Date: Sunday March 22, 2020
    Setup Time:  9:00 am to 12 noon.  For MidFEx members only to help setup, prepare rootstocks and to sort scion wood. No experience necessary to help out and much good fruit growing conversation to be had.
    Afternoon Session:  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm  This session is reserved for members and guests of members. Please arrive on time. Lecture begins at 1:00 sharp. Workshop will last until about 4:00 pm.

    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page (NOT at Cantigny)

    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.

    Only the individuals actually grafting fruit trees will be allowed in the grafting classroom.  Friends, spouses, and children are welcome to explore the grounds during the sessions.
    Costs:  Our workshop and guidance are free. However you will need to buy rootstock if you want to take home a tree. We will have dwarfing apple rootstock available. Cost is $5 each with free scion wood for MidFEx members.  Non-members pricing is $5 which includes two pieces of scion wood of their choice. Unless rootstocks were preordered, each attendee may be limited to three rootstocks each depending on supply.  Grafting requires a very sharp knife with a 2-3 inch blade. Bring your own medium-size pocket knife--we can sharpen it for you if needed, or purchase one at the workshop. Other supplies are available for purchase if you would like to continue honing your grafting skills after the workshop is over.
  • ***CANCELED*** Grafting Workshop: Session #2
    Based on recommendations from state and local public health officials to help slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the College of DuPage has cancelled all events until May and the Chicago Botanic Garden has cancelled all public gatherings (classes, lectures, etc) through the end of March.

    Public health agencies are advising to avoid unnecessary person-to-person meetings at least through the end of March.

    After March 29th, the MidFEx board will review opportunities to make rootstock, grafting supplies, and scion wood available to members. Please continue to collect and store scion wood adhering to the guidelines posted in the March Grapevine.

    Event Description: Find out what grafting fruit tress is all about.  Learn the the whys and hows with experienced grafters.  We will also have an impressive amount of scion wood available for grafting.  The purpose of the grafting workshop is to learn how to graft. Nonmember beginners will learn how to graft selected apple varieties on apple rootstock.  If you’d like more information about grafting see the Grafting Page.

    Date: Sunday March 29, 2020
    Setup Time:  9:00 am to 12 noon.  Morning session for MidFEx members only. Workshop setup and then seminar from 11:00-12:00 on advanced grafting techniques and graft troubleshooting.
    Afternoon Session:  THIS SESSION IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and the less experienced or novice grafter. Please arrive on time. Lecture begins at 1:00 sharp. Workshop will last until about 4:00 pm.
    Location: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.  Go to the Linnaeus Room in the Regenstein Center building.
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges. If you are not a member of the Botanic Gardens you will have to pay the parking fee.  Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden
    Event Details: THE AFTERNOON EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, but only the individuals actually grafting fruit trees will be allowed in the grafting classroom.  Friends, spouses, and children are welcome to explore the grounds during the sessions.
    Costs:  Our workshop and guidance are free. However you will need to buy rootstock if you want to take home a tree. We will have dwarfing apple rootstock available. Cost is $5 each with free scion wood for MidFEx members.  Non-members pricing is $5 which includes two pieces of scion wood of their choice. Unless rootstocks were preordered, each attendee may be limited to three rootstocks each depending on supply.  Grafting requires a very sharp knife with a 2-3 inch blade. Bring your own medium-size pocket knife--we can sharpen it for you if needed, or purchase one at the workshop. Other supplies are available for purchase if you would like to continue honing your grafting skills after the workshop is over.

    Maps and directions

  • Orchard Tour
    Event Description: Larry has generously agreed to take us on a tour of his orchard which consists of about 4 acres of apple and Asian pear trees, with the hopes of catching many of his trees in bloom!

    Date: Sunday, May 3, 2020
    Time: 1pm
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.
  • Recent Events
  • Apple Cider Social
    Event Description: Cider pressing the old fashioned way with MidFEx’s own cider presses.

    Date: Sunday November 3, 2019 (Note - Daylight Saving Time ends on Nov. 4)
    Time: 10am - until we run out of apples

    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • 2019 Harvest Festival  
    Event Description: The Fall Harvest Festival at the Chicago Botanic Gardens is our largest public event, fund raiser, and membership drive all rolled into one.  It’s a fun exciting experience and a great opportunity to socialize and network with MidFExers while learning the virtues of growing your own fruit.  Members bring in fruit for display, and on Sunday starting at 2pm, people are invited to sample the display fruit.  [Harvest Fest]

    MidFEx will be selling wonderful tasting less commonly known apples, fruit butters, and apple cider.  We will also be demonstrating cider pressing and answering any questions you have about growing fruit.

    Styles/Images/bulletList.gif Show Date & Time: Saturday October 19, 2019 10am - 4:30pm
    Styles/Images/bulletList.gif Show Date & Time: Sunday October 20, 2019 10am - 4:30pm
    Location: Chicago Botanic Garden
    Directions: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges.  Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden

    Event Details: This event is open to the public.
  • Summer Pruning Workshop
    Event Description: This will be a follow-up to the winter dormant pruning session on April 14th of this year. These trees had been neglected for several years so attendees will get hand-on experience with renewal training.  Please join us even if you did not attend the April session.

    Date: Sunday, August 25, 2019
    Time: 11 am
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.

  • Summer Picnic
    Event Description: The Summer Picnic is a time for MidFEx to come together for a fun afternoon.  Jeff’s and Mary’s home orchard is truly a family project. On their standard residential lot, their young orchard has 4 cherries, 2 peach, 2 pear, and 8 apple trees, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries strawberries, many perennials and a lovely Koi pond.

    The meal will be served at noon and the club will provide the main entree, beverage and dinnerware. The side dishes and desserts are pot luck, so it is time for you to show off your cooking and/or baking skills and bring something to share.

    Volunteers should arrive around 10 am to set up. Lunch will be served at noon. The business meeting will start at 1.

    Also on the agenda for the picnic:
      
    Silent Auction:  Bring your surplus gardening related items to the picnic for auction. Examples include fruit trees and non-fruiting plants, along with books and gardening related tools. Then bid on some truly unique items and take home some bargains for your garden.  Members often graft more trees than they have room for (for insurance) and donate their surplus successes to the auction. Many also take this opportunity to divide those overly crowded garden plants knowing their donations will go to good homes. Proceeds from the auction benefit the MidFEx treasury.

    Budding Demonstration:  Get an up-close look at summer budding techniques.  Ask questions and get answers from experienced members.

    Budwood Exchange: Share budwood of desirable or unusual varieties with other members to try your own hand with summer budding.  Look for budwood collection and storage instructions in the Grapevine.

    Date: Sunday July 14,2019
    Time: Setup - 10am, Lunch - Noon
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Top Working and Reworking Apple Trees Workshop

    Event Description: Oriana will be leading this seminar on top working some common variety apple trees over to cider varieties.  She will also be demonstrating methods to recover mature apple trees that have been incorrectly pruned in the past.

    Date: Sunday April 28, 2019
    Time: 9:30 am until 3 pm
    Location: See the Members Only page
    Directions: See the Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.  See the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Pruning Workshop

    Event Description: MidFEx pruning workshops provide a unique opportunity to hear varying pruning techniques and philosophies discussed and see them demonstrated.  We will be pruning to rejuvenate mature apple and pear trees that have been neglected.

    You may inevitably be faced with what to do with an old apple or pear tree which has not been pruned for say ten years. What do you do? How do you approach the task? We will try to determine how to prune these trees.

    Date: Sunday April 14, 2019
    Time: 11 am
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
Midwest Fruit Explorers, P.O. Box 93, Markham, IL 60428-0093
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