Stella Otto: The Backyard Fruit Gardener

Today's Tip: Mow vegetation short around the base of fruit trees and bushes to reduce winter habitat for rodents.

About Stella

Stella Otto

Stella Otto got her first taste for fruit grow­ing dur­ing annual fam­ily out­ings to the U-pick orchards of west­ern Mass­a­chu­setts. Fol­low­ing receipt of a B.S. in hor­ti­cul­ture from Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity, she worked at one of largest tree fruit nurs­eries in the U.S and a major tart cherry orchard near Tra­verse City, Michi­gan, the cherry capi­tol of the world. She and her hus­band even­tu­ally started their own diver­si­fied fruit farm in north­ern Michi­gan, to which a wis­ened, fruit-farming friend chuck­led, “They’ll have some “expe­ri­ences.”“ Indeed, they did, both learn­ing and laugh­able. Stella has authored two books, the award-winning The Back­yard Orchardist:A com­plete guide to grow­ing fruit trees in the home gar­den and The Back­yard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to grow­ing berries, bram­bles, and vine fruit in the home gar­den. She has writ­ten free­lance arti­cles for numer­ous mag­a­zines, appeared on the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel, and been inter­viewed on National Pub­lic Radio and other gar­den­ing radio pro­grams. Stella presently cul­ti­vates a fruit­ful fam­ily gar­den and enjoys her horses and cats on a 10-acre home­stead in north­ern Michigan.

Bonus: See Stella’s per­sonal garden

Stella Otto is a Ben­jamin Franklin Award gold and sil­ver medal win­ning author of The Back­yard Orchardist: A com­plete guide to grow­ing fruit trees in the home gar­den.
She is also the author of The Back­yard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to grow­ing berries, bram­bles, and vine fruit in the home gar­den, which was excerpted for a fea­ture arti­cle in Coun­try Jour­nal mag­a­zine.
Her free­lance arti­cles have been fea­tured in numer­ous mag­a­zines includ­ing Organic Gar­den­ing, Kitchen Gar­den, New Gar­den Jour­nal, Tra­di­tional Gar­den­ing, Acres USA, and Burpee Home Gar­dener.
Gar­den colum­nist for North­ern Home mag­a­zine and Thumb Print News.

Work­shop Presenter/Media appear­ances
Otto has been inter­viewed on National Pub­lic Radio’s The Cul­ti­vated Gar­dener and Home Grown.
As a repeated guest on Dis­cov­ery Channel’s Home Mat­ters, she demon­strated aspects of land­scap­ing cre­atively with fruit.
Stella has been an instruc­tor for local Mas­ter Gar­dener pro­grams, and has pre­sented numer­ous work­shops to gar­den clubs, urban gar­den groups, and at local gar­den centers.

Stella Otto is a pro­fes­sional hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and for­mer orchard and farm mar­ket owner/manager with over 35 years expe­ri­ence grow­ing fruit on large and small scale.
As a pro­fes­sional hor­ti­cul­tural con­sul­tant, Otto has worked as an orchard man­ager to absen­tee land own­ers, acquaint­ing those with no prior fruit grow­ing expe­ri­ence with the skills needed for suc­cess in their endeavor.
Stella Otto also offers con­sul­ta­tion for indi­vid­u­als who desire to incor­po­rate fruit trees, berries, and vines into their per­sonal edi­ble landscapes.

Col­lege instruc­tor
Otto taught Intro­duc­tory Hor­ti­cul­ture at North Cen­tral Michi­gan Col­lege. She designed and taught a class­room lec­ture and hands-on lab­o­ra­tory course intended to meet trans­fer require­ments to the four year col­lege cur­ricu­lum level.

Higlights of past writ­ing, pre­sen­ta­tions, and reviews
Fea­ture arti­cle in Grow: An Inspired House/Fine Gar­den­ing Spe­cial Issue — May 2009
Online arti­cles on Grit enews
Online inter­views at and
Sem­i­nar pre­sen­ta­tion: Cher­ry­land Elec­tric Coop­er­a­tive Gar­den Forum — pre­sen­ta­tion on “The Ins & Outs of Fruit Gar­den­ing: Hot Tips for Boun­ti­ful Har­vests“
Sem­i­nar pre­sen­ta­tion: “Sweet Suc­cess with Back­yard Fruit Gar­den­ing” at the Tra­verse area Habi­tat for Human­ity Spring Flower and Gar­den Show

Otto is avail­able for guest inter­views, free­lance writ­ing, and con­sult­ing assign­ments. Con­tact Her ›