February 24, 2020

Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School


NUF recently had the opportunity to be involved in a unique project in the North Georgia mountains. On February 21st, we traveled about an hour and a half to The Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, just outside of the town of Clayton Georgia. This private day/boarding school educates students from pre-K through 12th grade. The picturesque campus, surrounded by the Appalachian mountains, features rolling hills, gardens, walking trails, an apiary and an orchard.

Our focus for this trip was the orchard; planted around eight years ago, it has largely been left untouched. Combining the recent change in administration and students eagerness to be involved, a new interest in reviving the orchard brought our team of arborists in to formulate a plan and attempt a reset for the trees. The key to this project is training the teachers and students to properly prune the trees and provide care to insure the maximum production and longevity of the trees.


Our goal for the day was two-fold. We need to care for the trees, first and foremost. Overgrown fruit trees do not allow for proper air flow and light penetration, which can cause issues with moisture and decrease vigorous fruit production. These (primarily) apple trees produced some small apples, but with the goal of increasing size and overall production, training the trees to grow laterally was the main objective.

The trees also need regular structural pruning to prevent crossing branches, vertical growth and overcrowding of limbs. Our second goal for the day was to train students and teachers to do this work. This provides a wonderful teaching opportunity and is a great way for the students to be involved in the care of the campus.