I always enjoy my trips to the orchard and since my trip there in May, much has changed in the growing cycle. Everything growing is fully alive and at its peak. I'm planning to someday perhaps retire there, so the dreams just kept on coming. I ate large juicy sweet peaches right off the branches, and enjoyed large ripe bush raspberries. Grampa packed four trays of the juicy peaches to carry home which Andrea has canned. Some varieties of the apple crop are now being picked, while the rest will be picked in the next few weeks.
Over the past few years I've written about my father-in-law's prowess as a master orchardist. Local experts often have come to him for advice and assistance in testing new varieties. This time of the year he daily carefully inspects the results of all the labour that has been accomplished by his workers. He is keen to make any changes going forward that he needs to, in order to maximize the orchard's productivity.
This very modern orchard is designed for maximum commercial production. Each tree is pruned just so, "... Ideally we want 50 leaves per apple to synthesize the required sugar content in each apple." he explains. His approach is very calculated and it's like being in science class once again. While each tree is about 22 inches apart from the next, they tower as much as 20 feet high and produce tons of quality market-ready fruit.
As I was lounging in the sun on the backyard patio adjacent to one of the 47 rows of the 19,000 trees he has, I heard him call me. "...hey Mark,...come here I want to show you something". I got up; I was curious as to what he was to show me. Curious because ...well let's just say that class is always in session when Grampa Merk calls you into the orchard. He held out the branch of one apple, a very large healthy apple and then with his other hand he reached over and pulled off a scrawny apple from an adjacent tree. Holding them side by each, he looked up at me and said "See...these were both planted at the same time ". Of course the question begged to be asked, " Why is that apple on the left so tiny?
"This tree had a sticky watering valve, it was never able to receive water from the distribution pipe in order to grow to maturity", grampa quickly replied as he tossed it on the ground with some disgust. "Totally unmarketable!" He turned and walked away.
Kelowna is a semi-desert climate with very little rainfall. Each plant needs to receive water daily during the growing season. Along each of the rows the one-inch black pipe flows to deliver life-giving water to the root area. At each tree station an individual watering valve delivers the refreshing, life-supporting, ...indeed precious water. However, the water was not able to reach the tree. Immediately my heart was pierced with the words of Christ in John 15.
"Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." ~ John 15
As Christians we are to be closely abiding in Christ...feeding on his Word, receiving life-giving "water", listening to His voice, doing His will...in fact our health depends on it. We must be positioned and willing to receive the water. We can't be brought to maturity unless we are in step with His process in our lives.
John 15 ~ The Vine and the Branches
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.