I spent Friday morning at a workshop with Michael Phillips at the Smith College family weekend. I keep planting more apple trees because I mainly want to see what certain types of apples taste like and I enjoy growing them. I also like having plenty of apples to eat, bake with and made onto cider ( and I prefer a more tart flavored cider than most). I find apple trees particularly beautiful as trees and after planting fruit trees in Berwyn, Villanova, Paoli and Bucktown in Penna and then in Tunbridge and West Newbury in Vermont I finally am getting fruit from my trees.
Phillip's main idea seems to me to be trying to grow apples in the sort of situation they would be in naturally. The edge of a woods is good where is plenty of fungal activity and good sun: being on a slope with good airflow is good, so they don't freeze too much in a cold air pocket and so they dry out pretty quickly to save them from fungal attacks. Mulches with ramial material are good (my understanding is that this is twigs and new growth of woody plants that contains more of the stuff that trees want than conventional mulch- also it can be cheaper).
He is coming to Thetford Center in the spring to give one of the talks in our series of Saturday morning plant lectures and workshops.