From the Coordinator's Desk
Nellie Robertson, OFGA Coordinator

Happy Spring!


I hope you all are well. As many of you know, in my main job I work as a freelance translator. It is an industry that has been very strangely hit by the current health and economic situation — due to their specialization, some translators have more work than they can handle, others haven’t seen a job hit their inbox since business slowed down or stopped entirely. One fellow translator, after weeks of no work and a new reality with kids now at home instead of in school, shared her excitement over a big marketing project she just started working on, for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. She remarked how great it was to lose herself in a task that was upbeat, optimistic, concerning an event in the seemingly very distant future — instead of the small annoyances, day-to-day difficulties, and very real sadness that surround her in the present.


I hope you are able to find the same kind of peace, joy, and hope for the future as you look around on your farm, lose track of time caring for your trees and other plants! While I don’t grow fruit for sale, I am very excited that an apricot tree we have grown from seed is now blooming for the first time, and my kids are keeping busy building raised beds, planting seeds in a tiny greenhouse, and enjoying every minute of the freedom our home provides.


In this issue, I have some association matters to report, notes from our new President, an article with some very interesting and international perspective on growing fruit throughout the past several decades, and opportunities for this growing season and beyond. Enjoy, and take care!


OFGA Leadership Changes

According to our bylaws, Board Members serve three-year terms, and are eligible for re-election for up to two consecutive terms. For this reason, Dan Kelly, President of the Board in the last six years, has resigned at our annual meeting this February. Thank you, Dan, for your leadership and all your work! Dan continues to grow apples and make value-added products at his farm in northern Missouri, and he is excited to remain part of our organization.

With an unanimous vote at a following board meeting, Rami Aburomia, a long-time OFGA member and OFGA Secretary was elected as new President. Rami runs Atoms to Apples farm in Mt. Horeb, WI,  a high-density orchard of apples, pears, and stone fruit. His key goal of running an orchard business is growing delicious fruit efficiently. Thank you, Rami, for taking over this position and we are excited to see what’s next for OFGA.

At the same time, John Knisely from Madelia, MN (Alternative Roots Farm) took over the position of OFGA Secretary. Rachel Kedem continues to serve as OFGA Treasurer, keeping track of our finances. Thank you both for your attention to crucial details in the life of our organization!

Don Albrecht, Sam Kedem, and Dan Shield continue to contribute their expertise and talents to our work. Check out their information on our website: www.organicfruitgrowers.org/board2020

Many of our Board Members are now on their second term. To ensure continuity and efficient work within the organization, we welcome two new Board Members to our leadership:

  • Liz Griffith from Cottage Grove, WI owns and operates Door Creek Orchard with her family.

  • Lisa Rettinger runs Grandview Orchard in Antigo, WI — many of you met her at our 2019 Summer Field day.

Welcome, Liz and Lisa, we are excited to add your experience and enthusiasm to the leadership team!


Field Day(s), 2020

One great benefit of being part of OFGA, our dedicated group of fruit growers, is the opportunity to connect in person, to see first-hand how others are dealing with similar issues to our own, to share successes and vent about frustrations at an informal event, or learn from experts who tailor their presentations specifically for us at our field days. This year, we are not sure yet whether or when this can happen.

Several days ago, the Board sent out a questionnaire through SurveyMonkey to see what you, our members think is important about a field day. We appreciate the responses from those who took the time to let us know what they think, and we are evaluating our options right now. I will be sending out information as soon as we know how best to move forward.


Celebrations

Our members held workshops and presentations during every time slot at the MOSES Conference — thank you for all your hard work, it is great to see so many of you sharing your knowledge! In case you missed some of this, you can find all fellow OFGA members who presented at MOSES this year on our website: https://www.organicfruitgrowers.org/event-recaps/04

Don’t forget, you can connect with them through our Members only Facebook group and/or the Listserv.


We had a well-attended and successful grafting workshop at the MOSES Conference. Several new and experienced fruit growers grabbed a knife and matched rootstock to scion —  all in all, about 170 brand new apple and pear trees left La Crosse to find a home on someone’s farm. Additionally, our members ordered over 2,000 rootstock through our bulk order program, so hopefully lots of new trees are planted this year.



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ABOUT US

Orchardists, hobby gardeners, customers and those just beginning to explore fruit growing use our online resources to discuss topics related to organic fruit production, marketing, and policy.

Education

Learn from experienced fruit growers and industry professionals, access current research, find and share resources, and network with other members through seminars, workshops, field days and our quarterly newsletter, Just Picked!

Research

OFGA facilitates connections and collaborations with researchers at universities and private companies to address the challenges of managing fruit diseases and pests organically even in humid regions of the US.

Advocacy

OFGA is a professional organization able to represent the interests of member-growers in discussions about the public policies and programs that affect small growers.

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* Note that currently, OFGA is happening through email and Listserv communications, community events, not on Facebook, so the best way to get in touch with us is through signing up for more information above or by emailing Nellie Robertson at ofgacoordinator@gmail.com.

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