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Midwest Fruit Explorers
Garden Club for Backyard Fruit Growers
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Introduction Blueberries North Apple Bed Panaromic View Dwarf Conclusion
Gene's Answers Train a Mini-Dwarf Favorite Apples Map of Backyard

MidFEx, short for Midwest Fruit Explorers, is a non-profit organization of amateur backyard fruit growing enthusiasts.  Most of our members live in the counties surrounding Chicago.

Gene’s 40” apple tree (click to take a tour)
We are crazy about the best tasting, most flavorful fruits that grow well here. We are also interested in growing special, superior and unusual fruits regardless of their appearance or commercial appeal.  This includes little known varieties of apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes and nuts; and more unusual fruits such as the pawpaw, mulberry, persimmon, fig, juneberry, Asian pear, and hardy kiwi.  Our members locate, graft, propagate, test, grow and swap these superior fruiting plants, and then get together and share their knowledge.

MidFEx has a video depository located at midfex at vimeo.com.  Here you will find videos covering topics such as t-bud/chip bud grafting techniques.
  • Annual Business Meeting
    Event Description: What better way to chase away the winter chill than with a steaming bowl of homemade soup?

    Our annual business meeting will begin with our annual Soup Bowl Luncheon.  Potluck hot lunch will be followed by election of officers, other club business, and much gabbing about fruit growing as usual.

    Date: Sunday January 8, 2017
    Time: 1:30pm - 4:30pm
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This is a member only event.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Kurle Memorial Lecture
    Event Description:
    Professor Emeritus Richard Weinzierl, University of Illinois
    What’s Bugging your Fruit Crops?

    In addition, Dr. Weinzierl will facilitate a question and answer session on insect identification and management alternatives for fruit insects commonly experienced by amateur backyard orchardists.

    Date: Saturday February 25, 2017
    Time: 1pm
    Location: Chicago Botanic Garden
    Directions: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.  
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges. Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden

    The Kurle Memorial Lecture is offered annually in honor of Bob and Mary Kurle, conveners of the Midwest
    Fruit Explorers. Bob was known as one of the top fruit and nut enthusiasts in the U.S. He networked
    actively with fruit and nut growers all over the world. In the 1970s, Bob’s displays at the Chicago Flower
    and Garden Show focused the interest of ordinary gardeners on dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, hybrid
    nuts, and promoted growing the best fruit varieties suited to the Chicagoland area. He appeared in
    Organic Gardening and the Chicago Tribune.

    Event Details: This event is open to members and non-members.
  • Grafting Workshop: Session #1
    Event Description: MidFEx members only.  Find out what grafting fruit tress is all about.  Learn the the whys and hows with experienced grafters.  We will also have an impressive amount of scion wood available for grafting.  If you’d like more information about grafting see the Grafting Page.

    Date: Sunday March 19,2017
    Setup Time:  9:00 am to 12 noon.  For MidFEx members only to help setup, prepare rootstocks and to sort scion wood. No experience necessary to help out and much good fruit growing conversation to be had.
    Afternoon Session:  1:00 pm - 4:00 pm  Due to space limitations this session is limited to members only and especially intended for less experienced MidFEx members and their guests. Please arrive on time. Lecture begins at 1:00 sharp. Workshop will last until about 4:00 pm.
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only Page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only Page
    Event Details: This is a member only event.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only Page for additional details.
  • Grafting Workshop: Session #2
    Event Description: Find out what grafting fruit tress is all about.  Learn the the whys and hows with experienced grafters.  We will also have an impressive amount of scion wood available for grafting.  The purpose of the grafting workshop is to learn how to graft. Nonmember beginners will learn how to graft selected apple varieties on apple rootstock.  If you’d like more information about grafting see the Grafting Page.

    Date: Sunday March 26, 2017
    Setup Time:  9:00 am to 12 noon.  For MidFEx members only to help setup or if you’ve had any problems with your past grafts or grafting techniques, then let us help. We will have some of our most skilled members on hand from 11:00-12:00 to answer questions and assist you.
    Afternoon Session:  THIS SESSION IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and the less experienced or novice grafter. Please arrive on time. Lecture begins at 1:00 sharp. Workshop will last until about 4:00 pm.
    Location: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.  Go to the Linnaeus Room in the Regenstein Center building.
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges. If you are not a member of the Botanic Gardens you will have to pay the parking fee.  Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden
    Event Details: THE AFTERNOON EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, but only the individuals actually grafting fruit trees will be allowed in the grafting classroom.  Friends, spouses, and children are welcome to explore the grounds during the sessions.
    Costs:  Our workshop and guidance are free. However you will need to buy rootstock if you want to take home a tree. We will have dwarfing apple, pear and plum rootstock available. Cost is $4 each with free scion wood for MidFEx members.  Non-members pricing is $5 which includes two pieces of scion wood of their choice. Unless rootstocks were preordered, each attendee will be limited to three (3) rootstocks each.  Grafting requires a very sharp knife with a 2-3 inch blade. Bring your own medium-size pocket knife--we can sharpen it for you if needed, or purchase one at the workshop. Other supplies are available for purchase if you would like to continue honing your grafting skills after the workshop is over.

    Maps and directions
  • Recent Events
  • Apple Cider Social
    Event Description: Cider pressing the old fashioned way with MidFEx’s own cider presses.

    Date: Sunday October 30, 2016
    Time: 10am - until we run out of apples

    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This is a member only event.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • 2016 Harvest Festival  
    Event Description: The Fall Harvest Festival at the Chicago Botanic Gardens is our largest public event, fund raiser, and membership drive all rolled into one.  It’s a fun exciting experience and a great opportunity to socialize and network with MidFExers while learning the virtues of growing your own fruit.  Members bring in fruit for display, and on Sunday starting at 2pm, people are invited to sample the display fruit.  [Harvest Fest]

    MidFEx will be selling wonderfully tasting less commonly known apples, fruit butters, books on fruit growing.  We will also be making fresh pressed cider and answering any questions you have about growing fruit.

    Styles/Images/bulletList.gif Show Date & Time: Saturday October 15, 2016 10am - 4:30pm
    Styles/Images/bulletList.gif Show Date & Time: Sunday October 16, 2016 10am - 4:30pm
    Location: Chicago Botanic Garden
    Directions: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges.  Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden

    Event Details: This event is open to the public.
  • Summer Picnic
    Event Description: Good food, good company, and lot’s of talk about growing fruit.  Also, bud grafting demonstration, budwood exchange, silent auction, and tour of member’s orchard.

    Date: Saturday July 16, 2016
    Time: Setup - 10am, Lunch - Noon
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Bud Grafting Workshop

    Event Description: Learn how to bud graft from some of MidFEx’s most experienced members.
      
    Date: Sunday July 31, 2016
    Time: 1:00 pm
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
  • Kurle Memorial Lecture

    Event Description:
    Dr. Mosbah M. Kushad, University of Illinois
    The Secrets of Successful Backyard Orchards


    Dr. Kushad will facilitate a question and answer session on tree selection, pruning, pest and
    disease management, and harvesting appropriate for amateur backyard orchardists.
    Professor Kushad last presented to MidFEx in 2006 and he received rave reviews from those in
    attendance. Dr. Kushad is a preeminent crop, fruit, and vegetable researcher and educator from the
    University of Illinois, Department of Crop Sciences

    Date: Saturday March 5, 2016
    Time: 1pm
    Location: Chicago Botanic Garden
    Directions: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, Illinois.  
    Parking: Parking is free for Chicago Botanic Garden members and members of gardens with reciprocal privileges. Visit Chicago Botanic Garden’s web pages for details on parking and membership. Chicago Botanic Garden

    The Kurle Memorial Lecture is offered annually in honor of Bob and Mary Kurle, conveners of the Midwest
    Fruit Explorers. Bob was known as one of the top fruit and nut enthusiasts in the U.S. He networked
    actively with fruit and nut growers all over the world. In the 1970s, Bob’s displays at the Chicago Flower
    and Garden Show focused the interest of ordinary gardeners on dwarf and semi-dwarf fruit trees, hybrid
    nuts, and promoted growing the best fruit varieties suited to the Chicagoland area. He appeared in
    Organic Gardening and the Chicago Tribune.

    Event Details: This event is open to members and non-members.
  • Spring Pruning Workshop

    Event Description: MidFEx pruning workshops provide a unique opportunity to hear varying pruning techniques and philosophies discussed and see them demonstrated.

    Date: Saturday March 12, 2016
    Time: 1:30 pm
    Location: See Grapevine or Members Only page
    Directions: See Grapevine or Members Only page

    Event Details: This event is reserved for members and guests of members.  See your Grapevine newsletter or the Members Only page for additional details.
Midwest Fruit Explorers, P.O. Box 93, Markham, IL 60428-0093
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