Resources for EcoCertified™ Farmers
Welcome to the EcoCertified resource page for farmers. We’ve compiled helpful tools, forms, and more on this one page to help you best use our Eco program. We’re glad to have you! On this page, you’ll find:
- Important forms and agreements
- Marketing materials and guidance
- Talking points
- Social media guidance
- Additional resources to ensure a successful season
We’re thrilled to welcome our 2023-2024 EcoCertified™ Farmers:
Blue Hills Orchard • Champlain Orchards • Clark Brothers Orchard • Cooper Farms • Fishkill Farms • Green’s Fruit Farm •Hurd Orchards • Indian Ladder Farms • Lyman Orchards • Ricker Hill Orchards • Rogers Orchard • Scott Farm Orchard • Schlegel Fruit Farm • Steere Orchard • Sunrise Orchards
Our EcoCertified Farmers and Advisors call is the second Tuesday of each month at 1:00 pm EST.
To be added to the email group for agendas, access links, and follow up notes, fill out this form with name, orchard or affiliation, and email address.
What Is EcoCertified?
We can provide graphic files for our EcoCertified farmers to print, or printed materials for all of the following:
EcoCertifed™ Farmer Logo, available in two formats:
- Standard farm specific with EcoCertified logo and select (apple)cultivar PDF format for printing on site designed in 7″X11″, 11″X7″ and 5.5″X3.5″
- Vinyl banner, TBA:
EcoCertified Farmer Promise poster, available in 3 sizes:
- Foam board poster, 18 x 24: One free, additional available at cost. Single-sided; printed on ¼” foam board
- 8 ½ by 11 poster. Single-sided; printed on ¼” foam board
- 6×4 card two sided
- 6X4 Tarjeta de promesa en español, dos caras
Press Release Template: (click to download)
EcoCertified logo stickers: Up to 100 free
EcoCertified Logo poster: (click for example)
EcoCertified Promise poster: (click for example)
Guide to Accessing Local Media Outlets: Download PDF
Media Kit Checklist: Download PDF
Talking Points for 2022 EcoCertified™ Farm Marketing
Below you will find guidance on how to incorporate EcoCertified talking points into your messaging, and calls to action for your customers. Use this text as presented or, adapt to support your own communications about being an EcoCertified farmer.
“The EcoCertified program was founded in 2005 to support growers in our region by bringing together the best of Local and Eco-friendly.”
EcoCertified™ = Local Done Right!
“Eco is a rigorous, ecology-based farming, certification, and marketing program for Northeast tree fruit growers that supports both local and 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 & FAQs:
- Use the term “EcoCertified™” to describe your orchard or fruit, ie: “EcoCertified™ farmer,” “EcoCertified™ apples,” “EcoCertified™ peaches,” or “our orchard is EcoCertified™.”
- A quick answer to “what does Eco mean?”: It’s a third-party certification program verified by the IPM Institute of North America, awarded to growers who follow the most environmentally-sensitive growing protocols possible in the Northeast.
- A quick answer to “is it organic?”: It’s nearly impossible to grow organic, commercially viable tree fruit in our region; you’ll notice you almost never see locally grown organic apples at the grocery store. EcoCertified is similar, in that it’s also a growing protocol designed to protect the environment, but it’s designed specifically for our climate. EcoCertified is one of the most sustainable locally grown choices you can make.
- Check out our YouTube channel where you can find short videos aimed at helping you and your staff talk about what EcoCertified means for your farm like; How to Answer “Is This Organic” When it Isn’t, Talking About Pesticides and Why Talk About Agriculture With Farm Visitors.
- Dig deeper into the social science behind how to talk to your visitors! Red Tomato worked with IPM Voices and Frameworks Institute to create a document to explain the what, why and how of effective agricultural communication. Find the final report on the Farming and Food Narrative website.
- Red Tomato’s General FAQ Sell Sheet for buyers
- Red Tomato’s Pollinator FAQ Sell Sheet for buyers
Key Messages to focus on:
1. EcoCertified farmers support 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. EcoCertified 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. EcoCertified 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 U.S. come from western Washington. The climate in the Eastern U.S. is very different – much more rain; twice as many diseases; more than 60 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 U.S., EcoCertified offers the best combination of Local + Ecologically grown fruit.
2. EcoCertified farmers offers transparency and integrity
To qualify as EcoCertified, 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 EcoCertified 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 seven areas of farm practices:
- Operations, Food Safety and Management
- Ecosystem and Water Conservation
- Soil, and Orchard Floor Enhancement
- Pest Management and Pesticide Risk Reduction
- Pollinator Protection and Enhancement
- Energy and Waste Management
In addition, Eco Apple and Eco Stone Fruit certifications each have unique crop-specific guidelines, designed to offer advanced management techniques for specific fruits and pests. All protocols are available online, along with a Quick Guide to reference for implementation.
The IPM Institute of North America, a nonprofit 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 EcoCertified™ fruit.
3. EcoCertified 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 to share with visitors, customers, and all eaters who want to support EcoCertified 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 riskier 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 EcoCertified™. 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.
We monitor Facebook and Instagram for tags of our pages to uplift — we’ll do our best to share your updates if you tag us in your posts. Tagging us also allows your viewers to access more information on EcoCertified via our webpages. Whenever you post anything related to EcoCertified 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.
Facebook: Red Tomato (@redtomatoproduce)
Hashtags: #ecocertified #thisishowwefarm #localdoneright
Webpage: When inserting a link for people to learn more about EcoCertified, please use: https://www.redtomato.org/eco
EcoCertified & Farm social media post materials
For posting an announcement:
- “We’ve met the rigorous environmental growing standards and our 2022 (x fruit) crop is officially EcoCertified! 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 to grow fruit that’s good for the land and good for you. Learn more at www.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 EcoCertified 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 EcoCertified by the IPM Institute. Learn more at www.redtomato.org/eco”
For Instagram bios:
- “EcoCertified since (year).”
Ideas for general posts:
- Choose a nonconventional 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, preserving the integrity of our land or the health of our orchard’s ecosystem.”