The goal of OrchardKeepers is to train residents on the proper maintenance and care of fruit trees. These skills can then be applied to their own trees or to help maintain orchards found within the community.

Course Overview

    • OrchardKeepers receive training in basic arboricultural principles. Through six hours of classroom time and three hours of outdoor training, participants learn about food security, soils and basic tree biology, site suitability, selection of species, proper planting techniques, common insects and diseases, control methods, fruit management and pruning. Upon completion of the course, OrchardKeepers are asked to give eight hours of volunteer time to the Giving Grove for assistance with care on one of their 100+ orchards found around the Kansas City metropolitan region (it is not required to volunteer, although we highly recommend it). If you miss a class during the training, you can make it up at a later date!

Upcoming Courses

2023 OrchardKeepers: Registration OPEN

  • February 28th 9:30-4:30 | Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library | classroom and outdoor workshop

Class Description

Pre-Orchard Care: Food Security, Tree Benefits, Introduction to Soils, Basic Biology, and Site and Species Selection

Participants will learn about the food security and the food deserts that found within our community. Instructors will also give a introduction to soils and tree biology. Discussion will take place on selecting the proper location for your fruit tree(s) and species and cultivars that do well in our region. Upon completing this class, participants will:

      • Understand the term food deserts and how urban orchards can provide food security
      • Understand the benefits of trees
      • Understand the importance of soil biology and basic tree biology
      • Understand the site selection before you plant
      • Understand the importance of species selection and have resources to choose appropriate species for our area

Orchard Care: Planting, Insects and Diseases, Control Methods, Fruit Management, and Pruning
Participants will learn about how to properly plant a bare-root and/or containerized tree and common insects and diseases that you may see. The control methods portion will focus on reading a pesticide label and safe application. Discussion will take place on fruit management including sanitation procedures and thinning. Finally, we will wrap up the indoor portion of the course to discuss proper pruning of fruit trees. Upon completing this class, participants will:

      • Understand the steps for successful tree planting with either containerized or bare-root stock
      • Understand and identify common insects and diseases that affect fruit trees, control methods, including an understanding of pesticide labels and the proper use of pesticides.
      • Understand basic tree management skills to encourage fruit production
      • Understand the biology of trees and how to properly prune and train trees

Pruning (outdoor session)
Participants will learn hands-on how to properly prune and train fruit trees. This workday will occur outdoors in the elements at a local orchard. All tools will be provided. Upon completing this class, participants will:

      • Understand how to properly prune trees
      • Understand the importance of pruning for branch strength
      • Understand pruning for good scaffold spacing
      • Understand pruning for good air circulation and light penetration for fruit ripening (color)

Classes are taught by trained, certified and experienced foresters, arborists or horticulturists, including staff members from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Extension services of the University of Missouri and Kansas State University, Giving Grove, local counties and municipalities and local tree care services.

Although it presents a great deal of in depth information, OrchardKeepers is not intended to be a substitute for professional certification.