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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 December 2020 Grapevine was distributed to email recipients on 01/12/2021. The print version was mailed to USPS recipients on 01/13/2021. Archived copies of the Grapevine can be viewed on the Members Only page.
  • Annual Business Meeting
    Event Description: Due to the Pandemic, our annual business meeting will take place this year virtually via Zoom. To participate in the meeting with audio and video, you will need Zoom downloaded and installed on your computer or smartphone.

    AGENDA
    1. We will discuss MidFEx business, including voting for a new President for the club. After years of doing such a wonderful job, our current President, Deb Graham is ready to turn the (virtual) gavel over to someone else. Please nominate someone or yourself for this position. Major activities include writing a “President’s Message” for each Grapevine, working with the VP to plan and supervise MidFEx events.
    2. Oriana will discuss how she moved Gene Yale’s apple orchard, practically in its entirety, from his backyard to her property in Deerfield. This will be a discussion to not miss!


    Date: Sunday January 24, 2021
    Time: 1:00pm
    Zoom Link: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This is a member only event.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Kurle Memorial Lecture
    Presented as a 3-part Zoom series in this pandemic year. These Zoom sessions an be accessed through Zoom.us or the Zoom app.

    Session #1. Mark Carlson - Cherry, Peach and Pear Tree Pruning
    Mark Carlson is a certified landscaper, horticulturalist, and master pruner who has honed his skill for over 30 years. He resides in Northern California, where he and his wife were both raised. Carlson has produced a DVD, the Fruit Tree Pruning Guide, with demonstrations on Peach, Cherry, Apple, Pear, Plum, Apricot, and Nectarine trees at various stages of their development. He also discusses thinning and planting in the DVD. The session will focus on pruning young cherry, peach and pear trees, with a question and answer session to follow.

    Date: Sunday, January 31, 2021
    Time: 1pm
    Zoom Meeting ID: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Session #2. Michael Phillips — It’s all in the Soil
    Michael Phillips, author of The Apple Grower, Holistic Orchard (both as a book and DVD), and Mycorrhizal Planet will join us via Zoom to discuss planting, footprint management, and soil improvement. Michael has researched extensively since the Holistic Orchard DVD was made, so join us for some exciting new information.

    Date: Saturday, February 20, 2021
    Time: 1pm
    Zoom Meeting ID: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Session #3. David Bedford - Origin of the HoneyCrisp apple
    David Bedford, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota, samples over 2,000 apples each year from the University orchard in an effort to introduce new, improved cultivars to market. Some of Bedford’s “greatest hits” include Zestar!, HoneyCrisp, and SweeTango (the most litigated apple in history). Bedford will take us on a tour of the processes of pollination and sampling and will be available for a live question and answer session.

    Date: Sunday, March 21, 2021
    Time: 1pm
    Zoom Meeting ID: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    The Kurle Memorial Lecture is offered annually in honor of Bob and Mary Kurle, conveners of the Midwest Fruit Explorers. Bob was known as one of the top fruit and nut enthusiasts in the U.S. He networked actively with fruit and nut growers all over the world. In the 1970s, Bob’s displays at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show focused the interest of ordinary gardeners on dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, hybrid nuts, and promoted growing the best fruit varieties suited to the Chicagoland area. He appeared in Organic Gardening and the Chicago Tribune.
  • In-Person Events on Hold
    Event Description: In-person events including the grafting workshops, pruning workshops, picnic and orchard walks are currently on hold pending developments and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      
    If an opportunity to gather presents itself then we will call or email members with details.

    Stay well and keep growing.
  • Recent Events

    In-person events have been cancelled since early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Below are examples of events that are typical and what we will be getting back to post pandemic.
  • 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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