Farmer Partnership produces Certified Local Eco Peaches

Farmer Partnership produces Certified Local Eco Peaches

Six Northeast orchards are Eco PeachTM certified for 2017
Available at farm stands and supermarkets throughout the Northeast

The Eco Peach program, the result of ten years of collaboration between growers and science advisors, is a rigorous, ecology-based farming and third party certification program that supports and rewards farmers who use the most ecologically sound, minimally treated, methods possible to grow their fruit. Six Northeast orchards are certified Eco PeachTM for 2017. Eco peach growers report a bountiful peach harvest this season.

“A good peach is second to none, especially when you have to lean over the sink because they’re so juicy,” comments Laura Edwards-Orr, Executive Director of Red Tomato, the non-profit local produce distributor that manages the program. “We know that everyone is extra hungry for these jewels of summer because last year’s spring freezes eliminated the local crop throughout the Northeast. We’re proud to partner with our growers, who use some of the best growing practices in the region, to bring these peaches to kitchen sinks throughout the Northeast!”

Farmers in the Eco Peach program use practices that promote soil and tree health, nurture pollinators, and protect biodiversity. They manage damaging pests using biological methods such as natural predators, mating disruption, and trapping as their first line of defense – ultimately ensuring balanced ecosystems, safer working conditions, and cleaner fruit.

“The Eco protocol is like a “road map” to good ecological farming,” explains Josh Morgenthau of Fishkill Farms in Hopewell Junction, NY. “It promotes a healthy ecosystem, allows farmers to minimize their use of chemicals, and yields a clean, sustainable (and delicious!) crop of fruit each season. And being Eco certified helps us communicate these practices to our customers, for whom a peach might otherwise just be a peach,”

Why Eco?

Orchards in the Northeast face twice as many damaging pests and diseases when compared to their west coast counterparts, making ecological farming a good approach to tree fruit production in this region, according to Josh and other growers.

“I am a third generation family farmer, and I’m committed to sustainable farming,” Josh says emphatically. “Over the years, I’ve learned first-hand how difficult it is to produce tree fruit organically; the Northeast climate and its unique complex of orchard pests make it nearly impossible. So while our vegetables, berries and certain hardy apple varieties are certified organic, we’re proud to say the rest of our crop is Eco certified.”

The Eco Peach program was designed to give consumers in the Northeast a safe and responsible choice for local peaches. The Eco program uses many of the same practices as organic, focusing on biological controls such as beneficial insects and mating disruption. Growers use pesticides as a last resort, which reduces impacts to the environment, pollinators, and farm workers.

Red Tomato’s 2017 certified Eco PeachTM producers are:

Champlain Orchards, Shoreham, VT
Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction, NY
Mead Orchards, Tivoli, NY
Lyman Orchards, Middlefield, CT
Rogers Orchards, Southington, CT
Blue Hills Orchard, Wallingford, CT.

Dig deeper into EcoPeach!

The Eco Peach Certification was covered in:
The Packer