Fruit Tree Skills Workshop Series

Want to be skilled at growing your own healthy, productive fruit trees?

Are you an aspiring organic orchardist, or someone who wants to turn your property into a lush food forest?

Do you like small-group hands-on learning in a beautiful outdoor setting?

Then this is a workshop series for you.

I believe fruit trees, orchards, and food forests have so much to offer: food security, pollinator & wildlife habitat, cultural & historical traditions, tastier fruit than any grocery store, carbon sequestration, beauty, and more. This is why I want to see successful home orchards grow. 

Once a month from May to September we’ll hone fundamental skills of the orchard year. We’ll cover pruning & branch training, soil tests & fertility management, organic pest management, various methods of propagation, orchard design, and more. Each session will be paired with a small amount of reading material to support grounded research skills and scientific literacy.

These workshops are just as much about building community as they are about building skills. Anyone is welcome to participate, but I especially have in mind the amateur home orchardist, the aspiring organic commercial orchardist, and especially young people. These skills skipped a generation, and I would love to help those half my age get a head start.

The series of five sessions will integrate together, so full attendance is strongly encouraged. Payment is for the full season, not for individual sessions.


Who: I (Matt Soltys) will be leading the series, with occasional guest instruction from my co-worker & friend Meaghan Mechler, who brings a PhD in Plant Agriculture.

Where: We will gather at my orchard & nursery on land I lease at Ignatius Farm, on the north edge of Guelph (5420 Hwy 6 N.). I cultivate almost every species of fruit & nut one can grow here, all grown organically on a site with beautiful vistas of meadow, forest, and farmland. In addition, one session will take place at my abundant, 14-year old home food forest in Guelph, which is more developed than my orchard site. The exact meet-up location will be sent after registration.

When: The following Saturdays, 1 - 4 pm. May 18, June 15, July 13, August 24, September 21.

Pricing: The fee for the five-session series is $200 plus HST.

How to enroll: Kindly introduce yourself in the form below and tell me a bit about your own growing context, if applicable, and what interests you about this course. You can pay with a credit on this page, or send an e-transfer to of $226 ($200 plus $26 HST).

Enrollment will be limited to ten people.

Read on below the pictures for more details.

More about the location: Ignatius Farm is part of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. The property is approximately 500 acres, and is a hub of organic agriculture, hosting an organic vegetable farm & CSA, a community orchard, many community garden plots, research projects, and multiple small businesses like my own, including Eramosa Herbals, Seed Soil & Spirit School, Origin Native Plants, May Moon Flowers, Sundance Harvest, and more.

About my approach as a teacher: I promise you kindness, dignity, warmth, excitement, attentive listening, thoughtful questions, supportive mentorship, hands-on learning opportunities, and no bullshit (figuratively, that is; I highly value cow manure).

More of the topics we'll cover:

  • The relationship between branch training, pruning, and early productivity.
  • Fruit tree physiology and pollination biology.
  • Propagation by seed, layering, and bud grafting.
  • Soil fertility management; how to test, interpret results, and translate rates.
  • Integrated Pest Management, mainstream organics, and holistic approaches.
  • Orchard/food forest design, siting, spacing, sourcing, and developing a management plan.