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NAFEX Annual Meeting 2016
July 28th - 31st
Camp Swatara, Bethel, PA

When is the best time to plant a fruit tree? What species and cultivars do well in your region, and where can they be obtained? What about access to land, and markets?

Fruit exploring, mentorships, small-scale nurseries and breeding projects, niche crops, public fruit parks, 99 year leases, and the basics and nuances of all things pomological - this is what we’ll be discussing at the 2016 NAFEX Annual meeting in Bethel, PA, from Thursday, July 28th to­ Sunday, July 31st. The conference will feature presentations, facilitated Open Space, discussion groups, demonstrations of grafting and budding techniques, tours, cider and wine tasting, a silent auction, meals prepared with local, organic foods, and a Saturday evening banquet with a keynote presentation.

The conference is open to the public and will appeal to fruit growers of all levels. Local fruit enthusiasts are encouraged to attend and enjoy the opportunity to network and learn.

Register Here


  • Lee Reich, author of Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, will present on planting and early establishment of fruit trees, and will also give an overview of uncommon temperate fruits

  • Steven Murray of Murray Family Farms will present on his travels across the world and the rare fruits he has encountered and brought back to the US

  • Bill Whipple of the Nutty Buddy Collective will be talking about the planting of large orchards using a cooperative model, low capital investment, and a built-in succession plan

  • Alex Wenger of Field’s Edge Research Farm will present about his small-scale, citizen-science based pest and disease resistance fruit breeding work

  • Jerry Lehman of NAFEX will be discussing his work growing and breeding American Persimmon and Pawpaw

  • Taylor Malone of Build It Up East TN will share his experiences creating public edible parks, and they can serve as a tangible stepping stone to becoming a tree crop farmer without owning any land

  • Bass Samaan of Trees of Joy will present on a topic TBA

  • Eliza Greenman of The Fruit Explorers will present on a topic TBA

  • Many more speakers to be confirmed!

If you are interested presenting on a topic, please let us know - send us an email at

Facilitated Open Space sessions will also be included, where attendees will self-organize into groups around topics of mutual interest for discussions and mini-workshops. These will be a great opportunity to meet other fruit growers, build community, make new friends, and connect with mentors.

Tour Desitinations

Trees of Joy
Bass Samaan is working with over 80 fig cultivars in southeast PA, in addition to a host of other cold-hardy, uncommon fruits like Jujube, Pawpaw, Persimmon, and Kiwi.

North Star Orchard
Ike Kerschner specializes in growing unique and heritage varieties of tree fruits and also runs a fruit CSA. Fruit selections at North Star include several hundred varieties of apples and dozens of varieties of peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, and Asian pears. Ike will also share about the self-funded breeding work he is doing to advance the field of organic fruit production in the mid-Atlantic region.

Tentative Schedule

Thursday, July 28th: Registration, Meet and Greet, Board Meeting
Friday, July 29th: Registration, Presentations, Discussion Groups
Saturday, July 30th: Presentations, Discussion Groups, Banquet, and Keynote
Sunday, July 31st: Tours

Conference Venue

Located at the foot of beautiful Blue Mountain in northwestern Berks County, PA, Camp Swatara will host this year’s conference. We have tent sites, a lodge, and two pavilions reserved for the gathering. Handicap accessible bathrooms and showers, campfire circles, firewood, wi-fi, and over 10 miles of hiking and biking trails that connect to the Appalachian Trail will also be available to conference attendees.


Two types of tent sites are available at Camp Swatara for conference attendees at $13.50 or $23.00 per night. Reservations and payment can be made online via the conference registration form or through a mail-in registration form.

Twenty Five rooms have been blocked at the nearby Pine Grove Comfort Inn at a rate of $61 per night. Call the hotel directly (570) 345-8031) to reserve a room and let them know you are with the NAFEX conference.

There are two nearby bed and breakfasts - Berry Patch B&B in Lebanon and Stone House B&B in Schuylkill Haven. Double occupancy room rates start at $129 per night. Websites to makes reservations are and


Lunch and Dinner will be served at the conference on Friday and Saturday, and a box lunch on Sunday. Lunches will be $10 per plate and dinners $15 per plate with the exception of the Saturday Banquet which is $20 per plate. Ingredients will be sourced, as much as possible, from local, sustainable PA farms and value-added businesses such as Oak Nut Farm in Bethel and Dundore & Heister Butchery in Wyomissing, PA. Vegetarian and gluten-free options will also be available. Breakfast will be “on your own,” though we will be encouraging and organizing potluck oatmeals around morning campfires.

Conference Fee

$25 for the entire conference. A limited number of work-trade scholarships are available.

If you are registering via mail, make check payable to NAFEX and send check and form to:
Tom Knaust
1446 N Sherwood Dr
Charleston, SC 29407

The North American Fruit Explorers (NAFEX) is a network of individuals throughout the United States and Canada devoted to the discovery, cultivation and appreciation of superior varieties of fruits and nuts. Founded in 1967, our membership consists primarily of backyard orchardists but also numbers professional fruit scientists, nurserymen, and commercial orchardists.

NAFEX members are all AMATEURS in the truest sense of the word; they are motivated by their LOVE of fine fruit.

Additional information on the NAFEX Annual Meeting is available online at


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