To move from a pesticide monoculture orchard to a thriving biodiverse area, retaining the majority presence of the apple trees. For the trees to be disease free and thriving, supporting the new species that are coming through naturally, such as the oak, and bringing in new species to support diversity. To work with natural fertilisers, remedies and biodynamic processes to support tree health and collaborate with animals to support the maintenance of the area.


Through creating additional abundance for humans and pollinators, the orchard becomes a collective space for a core team to work together, to share the harvest and produce products such as juice, dehydrated apples, sauce, chutneys, cakes, cider and apple cider vinegar. 

Each day will begin with teaching pruning. You will learn:

  • When to prune

  • Tree and branch structure

  • Observation and assessment of the tree: age, health, shape, location, purpose

  • Assessment of the type of pruning work that needs to be done on the tree and what it can handle.

  • Getting to work: safety, use of tools, making good cuts, steps (cuts) big to small and in order of priority, continuing observation and taking distance.

Apple tree pruning specifics: 

  • Identification of the fruit producing spurs and branches

  • What are we pruning for? – fruit production and tree health

  • Tree shape we want to work towards.


Workshop run by Freya van Dien

Freya started her gardening and tree work journey 23 years ago on her allotment in Rotterdam. In her first experience with pruning an old apple tree she learned ‘the hard way’ that some things don’t come natural but require study and guidance. The heavy pruning was a good learning experience though as the tree responded by shooting out hundreds of water sprouts and almost did not bear any fruit the next year.


Her interest in gardens and gardening has led to working at a botanical garden, organizing open garden days, take classes in horticulture, permaculture and arboriculture (with master arborist Jocelyn Cohen) at a Merritt community college in Oakland California. The goal was not to become a licensed arborist but a studied amateur. It is helpful to identify what we need from the tree and understand nature’s processes, and let this inform the choices we make when pruning or doing tree maintenance. In the last 15 years since the arboriculture classes she has been doing pruning and tree maintenance for friends, family and in the recent 10 years also on her own eco-quinta Moinhos do Dão. She has experience working with most fruit trees and also with maintenance of woody plants (shrubs and trees) in gardens and woodlands.  

This is collaborative process, we learn together, the apple orchard receives our love and we all share the apples if natures brings a good harvest. 

To join: Email Deborah on or message: (315) 913 272 253

What to bring (if you have):  

Clean and sharp tools (disinfected with alcohol preferably)

Tools - hand pruners, loppers, hand/pruning saw, extended loppers 

Small ladders

Your own water bottles