Nonprofit Red Tomato, a Northeast distributor of sustainably grown produce, said Thursday that 14 regional apple and stone fruit orchards in six states representing more than 1,400 acres have been certified to Eco Apple program standards for the 2019 season.
Apple growers in the eastern U.S. battle many more damaging insects and twice as many diseases as growers in the drier climates of the Pacific Northwest.
While over 93 percent of U.S.-grown certified-organic apples come from eastern Washington, Red Tomato said eco-certified orchards “offer a reliable source of sustainably grown, local fruit for the Northeast.”
The Eco Apple standards, drafted by the IPM Institute of North America, a nonprofit based in Madison, Wis., promote soil and tree health, nurture pollinators, and protect biodiversity by relying on the “least-toxic and natural growing methods, such as biological controls, along with extensive monitoring of trees, pests and environmental conditions.”
A recent analysis showed a 59 percent decrease in the use of high-risk treatments between 2004 and 2016 by orchards in the program.
Some program participants such as Lyman Orchards in Connecticut and Clark Brothers Orchards in western Massahusetts helped found the Eco Apple program and have been certified for 15 years. Others, like Phoenix Fruit Farm in Massachusetts and Maine’s Ricker Hill Orchards, have joined more recently.
“The Eco Apple program aligns with our philosophy perfectly,” said Greg Parzych, co- president of Rogers Orchards, founded in 1809, in Southington, Conn. “As stewards of the land, we strive to raise a viable and high quality crop in the most ecologically responsible way.”
Red Tomato has launched this year an expanded digital media outreach campaign aimed at linking eco-certified orchards across the region by featuring stories and images throughout the harvest season.
Follow Red Tomato’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RedTomatoProduce and Instagram at @redtomatoproduce.
2019 certified Eco Apple orchards:
- Blue Hills Orchard – Wallingford, CT *
- Lyman Orchards – Middlefield, CT *
- Rogers Orchard – Southington, CT *
- Clark Brothers Orchard – Ashfield, MA
- Davidian’s Farm – Northborough, MA
- Phoenix Fruit Farm—Belchertown, MA
- Champlain Orchards – Shoreham, VT *
- Sunrise Orchards – Cornwall, VT
- Fishkill Farms—Hopewell Junction, NY*
- Indian Ladder Farms – Altamont, NY
- Mead Orchards – Tivoli, NY *
- Orbaker’s Fruit Farm – Williamson, NY
- Schlegel Fruit Farm – Dalmatia, PA
- Ricker Hill Orchards–Turner, ME
* Also certified for Eco Stone Fruit in 2019.