Funding supports continued research on impacts of sustainable fruit production in the Northeast.
We’re pleased to share that we’ve been awarded a $2,000 grant from the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement program. These funds will support Red Tomato’s ongoing efforts to research the impacts of sustainable fruit production on 18 Northeast orchards.
Challenges of Growing Produce in the Northeast
Apple growers in the Eastern US face more than sixty species of damaging insects, and twice as many diseases compared to the drier climates of the Pacific Northwest. Over 93% of certified organic apples grown in the US come from eastern Washington, where organic-approved production is a good fit for conditions there. Eastern Growers often need other approaches to succeed.
Red Tomato, in partnership with several Northeast Orchards and the IPM Institute of North America, has developed a third-party certification, growing protocol, and marketing program to support and reward farmers who use the most eco-sensitive, minimally treated, natural methods possible to grow their fruit. Started with six orchards on 400 acres in 2004, today there are 17 orchards and over 1700 acres enrolled.
The Impact of EcoApple®
Analysis conducted last year shows use of high-risk chemicals among five Eco-certified orchards (those participating in the program the longest), has decreased 59% since 2004, the year before the program began, and has continued to drop 18% since 2010. Support from the AgEnhancements Program will allow Red Tomato and the IPM Institute of North America to expand the analysis to additional orchards in the program. Both organizations are excited to continue the analysis, and expect new results by the end of 2018.
“We are especially proud that the program addresses specific farming challenges for this region, and helps these farms to remain vibrant and sustainable. Continuing to understand the impact of the Eco program on the orchard environment allows us to better communicate the importance of production practices that are appropriate for our region rather than a global standard.” says Susan Futrell, the EcoApple program’s director.
New of this grant was shared by the Fruit Growers News