Big E 2015 Edition
In this issue:
Big E 2015!
More than 1.3 million people visited the Eastern States Exposition (The Big E) in West Springfield, Massachusetts, September 12-28, during the peak of the fresh harvest.
Fourteen varieties of fresh apples were the main attraction, supplied by:
- Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield
- Carlson Orchards, Harvard
- Clarkdale Fruit Farm, Deerfield
- Cold Spring Orchard, Belchertown
- Nestrovich Fruit Farm, Granville
- Pine Hill Orchards, Colrain
- Red Apple Farm, Phillipston
Here are a few of the many memorable visitors to the New England Apple Association booth in the Massachusetts Building. They stopped by to learn and to ask questions about apples, and to sample fresh Carlson’s cider, Atkin’s cider donuts, apple pie smoothies, apple crisp, and apple pie.
To see the full slideshow with captions, please view on a larger device.
Young Apple Leader program accepting applications through December
USApple’s application to nominate a Young Apple Leader for 2016 is now available.
The Young Apple Leaders (YAL) program equips the next generation of American apple growers and leaders with an understanding of how federal regulatory and legislative issues directly affect their apple business. The selected YALs have the opportunity to learn from peers and apple leaders from around the country.
Young apple growers who are at the start of their career through approximately age 35 are eligible. Young growers also involved in apple packing, shipping, sales, and marketing are encouraged to apply. Each class of YALs includes members from diverse apple-producing states.
At least 10 young growers from the apple industry will be selected to participate in the 2016 YAL program. They will attend USApple’s Capitol Hill Day and the association’s other apple meetings in Washington, DC, in March 2016. The YAL Program sponsors cover all costs associated with participation.
The deadline to submit nominations is December 31, 2015. For more information and an application, visit Young Apple Leaders.
New food safety rules now online
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now posted a pre-publication version of “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,” the 801-page final produce food safety rule that will apply to growers.
The rule was published on November 27 and become effective 60 days later. Compliance to the rule is staggered over several years depending upon the specific provision and size of the operation.
The rules are the most significant changes to produce safety regulation in 70 years, and have the potential to significantly affect tree fruit production practices. It is anticipated that the FDA will soon announce a series of webinars for growers that will outline major provision of the final rule.
A few of the more significant changes in the rule revision affecting tree fruit production include these compliance provisions:
- Farms with less than $25,000 in annual sales of produce over the previous three years are exempt from the rule.
- Very small businesses (with more than $25,000 but no more than $250,000 in annual produce sales) will have four years after the rule’s effective date to comply with most provisions.
- Small businesses (with more than $250,000 but no more than $500,000 in produce sales in the previous three years) will have three years after the rule’s effective date to comply with most provisions.
- All other farms will have two years after the effective date to comply with most provisions.
- The compliance dates for water quality standards, and related testing and record-keeping provisions in most cases will be an additional two years beyond the compliance dates for the rest of the final rule.
The compliance dates for water quality standards, and related testing and record-keeping provisions will in most cases be an additional two years beyond the compliance dates for the rest of the final rule. Growers must develop a baseline quality profile for each water source by testing each source multiple times over the two-year period to determine its baseline quality. The results of the baseline profile will determine whether the water is acceptable for use without further action, or whether additional steps may be necessary.
Over the next several months, it is anticipated that the FDA will develop and publish guidance documents that will provide more specific information for growers on what the Agency expects in terms of compliance with the new rule.
For more information, email USApple’s Director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs Mark Seetin at email@example.com.
Foraged apples in
Boston-area study safe to eat
A recent article in Food Safety News reports that foraged apples in the Boston area were not only safe to eat, but contained relatively low levels of arsenic and lead.
The November 12 article, Initial Research Finds Some Foraged Urban Fruits in Boston Area Safe to Eat, describes research conducted by Wellesley College geoscience professor Dan Brabander after he was approached by members of the Boston League of Urban Canners.
In the study, foragers retrieved windfall fruit and other foods in yards, along highways, in parks, around office buildings, and in abandoned orchards.
A total of 166 samples of dehydrated cherries, peaches, apples, and other fruits and herbs were tested for contaminants, including heavy metals, and for nutritional content.
Results showed 0.5-1.2 micrograms per gram of lead in the apple samples. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) provisional total tolerable intake level for lead by small children is 6 micrograms per day.
The research also revealed that calcium levels in the foraged apples and peaches were more than 2.5 times higher than non-foraged versions of those fruits. Levels of iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc were higher in some of the samples.
The researchers also compared heavy metal levels between peeled and unpeeled foraged fruits, the article reports. Although the researchers expected higher levels on the unpeeled ones due to contamination of the urban soil and air, “there was no difference between these variables,” said a member of Brabander’s research team.
Their findings were presented at the Geological Society of America’s November 2 annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.
Massachusetts orchards receive grants for conservation, energy projects
Three Massachusetts orchards are among the recipients of grants from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), for conservation and renewable energy projects.
Pine Hill Orchards in Colrain was awarded $8,000 for irrigation. Clarkdale Fruit Farm in Deerfield was awarded $25,000 for a 19.62-kilowatt photovoltaic system, and C. N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater was awarded $20,000 for a 13-kilowatt photovoltaic system.
The Pine Hill grant was one of 23 awarded to Massachusetts farmers for the installation of conservation practices that prevent or mitigate direct impacts on water and air quality and ensure efficient use of water. The grants, totaling $300,000, were made through MDAR’s Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP).
The grants to Clarkdale Fruit Farm and C. N. Smith Farm were among 25 made to Massachusetts farmers totaling $500,000 to implement renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency on farms.
The grants were awarded through MDAR’s Agricultural Energy (AgEnergy) grant program, with funding from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER). The AgEnergy program is an annual competitive program for Massachusetts agricultural operations seeking funds to build energy projects to improve energy efficiency and facilitate adoption of alternative clean energy technologies.
The AgEnergy Grant Program and AEEP are among several programs within MDAR’s Division of Agricultural Conservation and Technical Assistance (DACTA), whose mission is to advance the conservation and utilization of agricultural resources through preservation, environmental stewardship, technology, technical assistance and education in order to enhance the viability of agricultural enterprises and safeguard natural resources.
AEEP has funded more than 500 projects statewide since 1999, providing growers and producers more than $5.9 million dollars to help address environmental concerns on their farms.
Since 2009, grants from the AgEnergy program have helped fund more than 180 projects statewide, providing growers and producers more than $2.6 million to address energy issues on their farms.
Annual meeting December 16
The annual meeting of the New England Apple Association will be Wednesday, December 16, at the New England Vegetable & Fruit Conference at the Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester, New Hampshire. All member orchards are encouraged to attend to hear from and provide feedback to Executive Director Bar Lois Weeks and communicate with the Association’s board of directors. Senior Writer Russell Steven Powell will be on hand to discuss upcoming grant projects, including plans to introduce JuicyGold, the new, exclusive New England name for the Jonagold apple, in 2016. Anyone with agenda items should email them to Weeks at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, December 11.