Brien and Emily Davis
We bought the orchard in 2001, moving from Central Maine where we had worked and raised our two sons for fifteen years. One might say we were idealistic; we believed agriculture mattered, and we still do. We saw the orchard as an opportunity to carry on a tradition, to make a commitment to meaningful work outdoors, and to bring the best of our mental and physical abilities to the project. It is very interesting, there is so much to learn, and it has been well worth our energy. The orchard has connected us to the community in which we live, and we are continually reminded of how much folks value the orchard as a presence in Hope.
Brien’s Take: Brien sees himself as “just the keeper of the apples.” He says he gets to climb trees for a living. He loves to prune fruit trees. He loves to pick apples. Growing apples is challenging. “Sometimes I hate growing apples because I lose,” Brien says. “ A disease takes over and I can’t beat it. On the other hand, I admire how nature usually wins and I have to stand back and say I can try all I want, but it has the upper hand, and I have to work with it, not against it.” When Brien is not tending the orchard, he is a nurse practitioner and owner of Hope Health in Camden.
Emily’s Take: I was pretty resistant when Brien first found the orchard in 2000. Initially, I saw myself as the supporting actress in developing the orchard into a viable business. Then, working on it brought out my creative energy and challenged my learning curve in wonderful ways. Living here has provided me with a first hand opportunity to walk my talk: that is, to be a lifelong learner. Sometimes when I talk about apples, and what I know about them, I surprise myself. That is experiential learning at it’s best, for sure. I like this place. I have found that the orchard gives me more energy than it takes. It allows me to work with the natural cycle of the seasons and that keeps me grounded. Besides, what’s not to love about a fresh apple?! I really enjoy sharing this simple, delicious, and nutritious food with other people. I am fortunate to balance my orchard work with employment as a school counselor at Troy Howard Middle School, in Belfast, as well as trip leading as a Maine Guide and volunteer with the Appalachian Mountain Club. (Check out my website if this interests you: embarktoday.com)