Ken Roth has always liked trees for as long as he can remember. When Ken learned how to graft fruit trees as a teenager, his focus on fruit trees turned into an obsession. He started Silver Creek Nursery partly because he saw value in many overlooked and uncommon tree fruit varieties and wanted to make them more readily available to anyone else who wants to grow them. And he started the nursery partly as a means of justifying and financing his growing collection of varieties!
Ken began selling trees out of this building in 2009
Talking to other growers and reading up on the available literature about growing nursery stock, at first Ken followed the conventional advice pertaining to this branch of horticulture. He planned out an Integrated Pest Management program tailored to his crops, and bought the necessary chemicals to put his plan into action: broad spectrum insecticides, fungicides, an antibiotic spray, and round-up. He coaxed the trees along with embarrassingly high amounts of synthetic urea fertilizer.
Thankfully, it did not take long for Ken to have a shift in thinking, realizing that the use of chemicals was unnecessary. He began to see a much bigger picture of balance in nature between pest populations, their hosts, and their predators. A bigger picture which involved beneficial and symbiotic interconnections between all forms of life in the nursery and orchard, from bacteria and fungi all the way up to birds, coyotes, and himself. After many years of searching and trial-and-error, Ken settled on a holistic management system modeled after Michael Phillips' system described in his book, The Holistic Orchard.
The results have surpassed Ken's initial expectations. Of particular surprise is the ability of the sweet cherry nursery stock to withstand the onslaught of the Cherry Leaf Spot fungus. This fungus is present in nurseries and orchards everywhere, and the leaves become so infected that they drop as early as midsummer. This results in stunted growth, which is never good for growing nursery stock. Repeated fungicide applications are conventionally recommended to stave off the infection and delay leaf drop a little longer. Afraid to give up the security of his fungicide, for two years Ken grew only a small test row of sweet cherry nursery stock using the Michael Phillips holistic approach. The results were amazing, with these chemical-free trees vastly out-performing the conventionally-grown trees. They are taller, healthier, and although they still get Cherry Leaf Spot, the infections are not bad enough to cause many leaves to drop before their normal time in the fall!
Holistically-managed sweet cherry nursery stock still with leaves late in the season
Since then, Ken fully committed to organic and sustainable practices. He has become more conscious of what he eats as well. Having tasted so many fruits, and apples in particular, he believes that trees grown in a holistically-managed organic orchard are more nutrient dense-- and you can tell by the taste. There is a considerable difference in taste between conventionally-grown fruit sold in the grocery store (which is also picked before it is truly ripe), and home-grown organic fruit off of your own tree. It is Ken's wish that such high quality organic fruit such as you can grow at home would be available to everyone. This is his idea of ultimate luxury!
More recently, Ken's cousin Steph has taken on a management role at Silver Creek Nursery, and she plans to continue the mission of providing high-quality fruit trees of all kinds of amazing varieties. She has instigated the transition of the nursery to official organic certification under the Canadian Organic Standards. In 2019, Steph and Ken are working side-by-side with the help of many wonderful family and friends, doing their best to grow some of the awesomest fruit trees available for sale in Canada! They welcome you to the nursery both in person (please check our hours), or via the online store. And they wish you all the best in all your fruit-tree-growing endeavors!