Mike Basedow joined Penn State University Extension this year as the coordinator of the Young Growers’ Alliance (YGA). American Fruit Grower had a chance to catch up with him and talk about his background and long-term plans while in his post.
Q: What interests you about horticulture and why?
Every day is a new challenge with a lot of different factors to account for. I also hate sitting behind a desk all day every day, so horticulture gets me outside.
Q: Are you familiar with the industry?
I worked closely with the Penn State tree fruit team during my master’s degree, so I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of the industry and the people involved in it in Pennsylvania. I’ve also gotten to know a handful of other growers throughout the Northeast.
Q: What is your background? How familiar are you with Pennsylvania?
I grew up in suburban New Jersey, so I’m not from a farming background. I got interested in fruit production visiting orchards in the Hudson Valley. I studied plant science at Cornell and then earned my master’s degree in horticulture at Penn State. As far as Pennsylvania goes, my grandparents grew up on farms in Cambria County. We visited them every summer, and the land is still in our family. My brother, three cousins, and aunt also went to Penn State.
Q: What drew you to get involved with YGA?
Agriculture is continuously evolving, and it seems in orchards we are starting to look closely at how we can better utilize technology to stay ahead of the curve. I think young growers are the most likely to be interested in adopting this technology, and I’m excited to be involved in it.
Q: Have you set any short-term goals as of yet? Any long-term goals?
My short term goals are to get up to date on all of the projects we have going on – it’s a pretty long list! In the long term I’m interested in working on projects related to cider orchard management.
Q: What can you bring to the table to help ensure YGA’s continued success?
I’ve been called highly motivated, and I have experience working with agriculture from the academic and industry side, so I think I can put that to good use for YGA.
Q: What are some challenges facing the next generation of specialty crop growers?
I think the public is exposed to a lot of pseudoscience, and it makes a lot of young consumers skeptical of agriculture. We need to find a way to better educate the general public on what actually happens on the farm.
Q: What’s one fun fact about yourself?
I played the saxophone in my college pep band, and am still a big fan of Cornell hockey. Go Red!