Eco Resource Center
Last updated (2/1/21): Welcome to the new resource page for Eco-certified growers. We encourage any and all feedback as we continue to update and expand this tool.
Congratulations on this year’s certification! Reminder to please sign your trademark agreement here.
Questions or feedback? Contact Sue.
The 2021 Annual Eco Growers Meeting
Virtual: March 2nd & 4th, 2021, 2:00 – 5:00 pm EST
Tuesday, March 2nd:
1. Overview and welcome from Red Tomato—Angel (5 min)
– RT sales update 2020—Susannah, MR, AM (15 min)
– Grower reports (questions sent in advance) 2 min each
2. Grower Survey report—(15 min) Gabrielle Watson
3. Review of current status of science and marketplace re: Neonics, Gramoxone (paraquat) and update on Glyphosate—Peter Werts (30 min)
4. Report on w. NY pilot protocol adoption data —P Werts (15 min)
5. Hartman Group consumer research re: Eco brand positions—Sue F. (45 min)
Presentation; break into small groups for discussion
6. Protocol Review for 2021—PW (45)
Thursday, March 4th:
1. Eco Plan (overview last year—AM w/ MR, SF)—15 min
2. Strategies -SF/MR-(30 min)
Report back on Eco Plan and 2020 progress
– new crop and region update
– structure for growth
— Small group discussion–20 min
3. Advanced Practices Overview and discussion of future direction, work for 2021, working group —Sue/Peter (30 min)
4. Packaging 2020 report and 2021 plans—Diane Rast (15min)
5. Sales Plans for 2021—Susannah/MR (20 min)
6. Concluding discussion—discussion questions for 2021
Wednesday March 3rd
Recommend attending the UMass extension session on Apple Maggot, 12-1:30 – HERE.
Our Eco call will be the second Tuesday of each month at 2:00pm EST.
2020 Press Release
- View official here
- Download template to customize for your orchard (.doc)
Eco-certified Orchards 2020
- Blue Hills Orchard, CT (apples & stone fruit)
- Champlain Orchards, VT (apples & stone fruit)
- Clark Brothers Orchards, MA (apples)
- Cooper Farms, ME (apples)
- Fishkill Farms, NY (apples & stone fruit)
- Indian Ladder Farms, NY (apples)
- Lyman Orchards, CT (apples & stone fruit)
- Mead Orchards, NY (apples & stone fruit)
- Ricker Hill Orchards, ME (apples)
- Rogers Orchards, CT (apples & stone fruit)
- Schlegel’s Fruit Farm, PA (apples)
- Scott Farm Orchard, VT (apples)
All materials are FREE in the quantities noted below, except the vinyl banners, which are available at cost. We’ll gladly provide larger quantities of anything for cost of printing.
All POS signs can be customized to include your orchard name, Eco Peach logo, personal quotes or farm information, photos of your choice, etc.
- Generic or Farmer-specific POS, 11×7, 3×5, or 7×11: Free. Printed and laminated.
- Foam board poster, 24 x 36: One free, additional available at cost. Single sided; printed on ¼” foam board
- Vinyl banner, 24 x 36: $50 at cost. Single or double-sided; vinyl with corner grommets; for indoor or occasional outdoor usage
- Eco Apple logo stickers: Up to 100 free, additional available for small charge at cost.
- Eco Apple consumer brochure: Up to 1000 free; additional available for small charge at cost. Small trifold.
Generic POS cards, Farmer-specific POS cards:
Vinyl banners, Foam posters:
Talking Points for 2020 Eco Fruit Marketing
Below you will find basic facts and tips, our FAQ sell sheets, three key points to incorporate into your messaging, and calls to action for your customers. You can use this text verbatim, or as an aide in designing your own communications.
2020 is the 15th year of the Eco fruit program, founded in 2005 to support growers in our region by bringing together the best of Local and Eco-friendly.
Eco Fruit = Local Done Right!
Eco is a rigorous, ecology-based farming, certification, and marketing program for Northeast tree fruit growers that supports both local + ecologically grown.
Eco practices are based on creating an orchard ecosystem that supports pollinators, keeps damaging insects in balance with biological and preventive methods, and promotes soil and tree health.
A partnership among local farmers, scientific advisors, the IPM Institute of North America and Red Tomato, Eco delivers the freshest, best-tasting locally grown fruit while supporting and rewarding progressive, environmentally responsible growing practices specific for the northeastern region.
Quick tips & FAQ:
- Use the phrase “Eco-certified apples” or “Eco-certified peaches” when appropriate. This is a recent shift in our framing, to add legitimacy and trust when talking about Eco fruit.
- A quick answer to “what does Eco mean?”: It’s a third-party certification program verified by the IPM Institute, awarded to growers who follow the most environmentally-sensitive growing protocols possible in the Northeast.
- A quick answer to “is it organic?”: It’s actually nearly impossible to grow organic tree fruit in our region; you’ll notice you never see locally grown organic apples at the grocery store. Eco is similar, in that it’s also a growing protocol designed to protect the environment, but it’s designed specifically for our climate. Eco is the most sustainable local-grown choice you can make.
- Red Tomato’s General FAQ Sell Sheet for buyers
- Red Tomato’s Pollinator FAQ Sell Sheet for buyers
Key Messages to focus on:
1. Eco supports Region-based ecological farming practices
Growers in the Northeast are longtime leaders in adopting and promoting eco-friendly growing practices, and have worked hard to find practices that work best in our climate and growing conditions. The most ecological and effective practices aren’t the same for every locale. Eco supports both local farms and environmentally sound practices.
The Eco program brings the expertise of scientists and farmers throughout the region together to develop a rigorous growing protocol based on the most environmentally-friendly practices possible in our region. Eco-certified practices protect pollinators, promote soil and tree health, and treat orchards as holistic ecosystems.
An organic protocol works well for growing tree fruit in the arid regional climate of western Washington. Even though the Northeast grows some of the best apples in the world, over 93% of certified organic apples sold in the US come from western Washington. The climate in the Eastern US is very different – much more rain; twice as many diseases; over sixty species of damaging insects – and the national organic standards do not always offer the most sustainable treatments for those conditions.
For responsible growers and conscientious eaters in the eastern US, Eco-certified offers the best combination of Local + Ecologically grown fruit.
2. Eco certification offers transparency and integrity
To qualify for Eco certification, growers meet a rigorous production protocol that has been developed to ensure that consistent, environmentally responsible, and transparent practices are behind every piece of fruit.
The Eco Protocol is revised annually to reflect the most progressive growing practices and new research. Growers meet regularly, together with Red Tomato staff, scientists, and international experts. The Eco Core Protocol is extensive, and covers 7 areas of farm practices:
- Operations and Management
- Ecosystem, Soil and Water Conservation
- Pesticide Risk Reduction
- Pollinator Protection
- Pest Monitoring and Management
- Food Safety and Product Quality
- Energy and Waste Management
In addition, Eco Apple and Eco Peach certification each have unique crop-specific guidelines, designed to offer advanced management techniques for specific fruits and pests. All protocols are available on-line, along with additional information at https://redtomato.org/eco.
The IPM Institute of North America, a non-profit organization, administers the growing protocol and conducts annual audits. Every three years, each orchard is also inspected by an independent third party organization, Apple Leaf. Red Tomato manages the Eco program and works on behalf of the grower network to market and distribute Eco-certified fruit.
3. Eco-certified orchards combine centuries of experience with new energy and innovation.
The orchards in the Eco program are a powerful, resilient force in our region’s food system, combining deep family roots and experience with new, young energy and innovation. They represent some of the oldest farms in the region, with family roots that go back centuries, as well as the newest generation of fruit growers.
Eco growers blend decades of stewardship and knowledge of their land and trees with the latest science and innovative practices. They bring both skill and experience to the many complex challenges involved in growing healthy, great-tasting fruit and carefully bringing it from tree to table.
Some of the best-eating apples in the world are grown on Eco-certified Northeast orchards: established varieties like Macoun, McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, JonaGold, and new varieties bred especially for the region: Evercrisp, Ruby Frost, SnapDragon. The most popular varieties nationally also grow well in here: Gala, Red Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Cripp’s Pink/Pink Lady, Braeburn; as well as dozens of heirlooms with unique local history and flavors.
Calls to Action for Eaters who want to support Eco-certified orchards:
Northeastern apple orchards add beauty and value to the land, communities and tables of our region. The challenges they face — global markets, centralization and consolidation of retail buyers, invasive pests, changing climate, and standardization of varieties — make their livelihoods more risky every year. You –eaters and citizens who love these orchards and the unique Northeast fruit varieties they grow — have an important role in helping them thrive for many generations to come.
- Buy Local: look for, ask your grocer for, and buy fruit from local NE orchards.
- Buy Eco-certified. Seek out growers who use management practices suited to this region, like Eco Apple, and ask for Eco Apple and other locally adapted sustainable practices.
- Eat regional! Only the Northeast can boast truly exceptional varieties like McIntosh, Macoun, Cortland and Empire, as well as dozens of other popular national varieties, new regional specialties like SnapDragon and Evercrisp, and heirlooms grown and loved here for generations.
Facebook: Red Tomato (www.facebook.com/redtomatoproduce)
Hashtags: #ecocertified #ecoapple #localdoneright
Webpage: When inserting a link for people to learn more about Eco, please use: https://redtomato.org/eco
The number one most helpful thing you can do is tag us. This allows your viewers to access more information on Eco via our webpages, and allows us to amplify your messages.
Whenever you post anything related to Eco fruit or Red Tomato, please tag our account in the photo or post. If it makes sense to reference us in the caption text, please do, and make that text linked to our profile: on Facebook that’s @Red Tomato, on Instagram that’s @redtomatoproduce.
For posting an announcement:
- “We’ve met the rigorous environmental growing standards and our 2020 (x fruit) crop is officially Eco-certified! This third-party certification is verified by the IPM Institute and represents the highest standards of orchard management, tailored to our region and designed to raise fruit in the most ecological way possible. Following the Eco protocol means going the extra mile to protect pollinators, promote soil health and care for our orchards as holistic ecosystems. We’re proud grow fruit that’s good for the land and good for you. Learn more at redtomato.org/eco”
For Facebook bios:
- “We follow the Eco growing protocol, a third-party certification verified by the IPM Institute, to meet rigorous environmental standards and use the most ecologically-friendly growing practices possible in the Northeast.”
- “We are an Eco-certified orchard since (year), following a rigorous ecology-based protocol and verified annually by scientists at the IPM Institute. Our growing practices protect our environment, pollinators, orchard health and biodiversity.”
- “Our growing practices are Eco-certified by the IPM Institute. Learn more at redtomato.org/eco”
For Instagram bios:
- “Eco-certified since (year).”
Ideas for general posts:
- Choose a non-conventional orchard management technique you use (mulching, sticky traps, scouting, mating disruption, etc). Share a photo/video of the practice, or a generic photo of your orchard. “Did you know we use (name of technique) as part of our Eco growing practices? (briefly explain technique). Innovative practices like these allow us to grow a healthy, great tasting (fruit) crop by working within the boundaries of nature, not sacrificing the integrity of our land or the health of our orchard’s ecosystem.”