2009 Apple Grower Of The Year Finalists

2009 Apple Grower Of The Year Finalists

For the second year in a row, American and Western Fruit Grower has named four additional finalists for its Apple Grower of the Year award. The list of elite growers mentioned below should be recognized for their commitment to growing high-quality fruit each year, as well as their efforts to help other growers, and the industry as whole, maintain a profitable future. The information comes directly from those who nominated each of them.


Kenny Barnwell

Edneyville, NC
“Kenny Barnwell’s career spans 29 years in the apple industry, with an impeccable service record. He is currently involved in both the fresh and processing markets. Throughout his career, Kenny has been active in promoting advanced techniques in apple production. Many new grower standards were initially tested in his orchards, including new pesticides, mating disruption, and degree day models. His service record to local growers is quite impressive. He has been involved in immigration reform and specialty crop legislation, benefitting apple growers nationwide. He continues to work closely with state and national elected officials.”

Leonard Brown

Milton Freewater, OR
“Leonard Brown is co-owner and orchard manager for Earl Brown & Sons (EBS), the largest apple grower in Oregon. EBS produces and packs more than 850,000 boxes of premium quality apples each year which are marketed under the Rainier Label. Leonard has a degree in horticulture from Oregon State University and maintains some of the best high-density orchards in the Pacific Northwest. He is an active member of the Blue Mountain Horticulture Society, which is a non-profit organization serving the fruit industries in the Walla Walla Valley. Leonard is also a member of the Washington State Horticultural Association. He is a tireless advocate for growers in the Pacific Northwest and is also a strong supporter of Extension and research, encouraging and facilitating many different research trials in their orchards.

Mike Taylor

Wenatchee, WA
“Mike Taylor, Jr., co-owner and operator of Taylor Orchards in eastern Washington, has spent the last 30 years working to advance the apple industry. From growing a diversified mix of apples and embracing new variety development to committing his time and energy to a number of industry groups over the years, Mike’s dedication and passion for apples make him an ideal candidate for the 2009 Apple Grower of the Year award. Understanding that consumer satisfaction is of utmost importance to building demand for any product, Mike’s primary focus in the orchard is to grow crisp, juicy, and flavorful apples. The Taylors also routinely upgrade their orchards through grafting and replanting to maintain a strong mix of high-quality, high-yield apple varieties. Mike is on the forefront of new variety development and sustainable agriculture practices. Though passionate about farming apples, Mike also understands the complexity of the business and has taken a leadership role in setting a strong tone for the global sales and marketing efforts of apples, to benefit the entire industry. Like any true leader, Mike commits his time and industry to several organizations, many of which are directly related to advancing the apple industry. Because of his commitment, Mike is well-known and respected among industry leaders, including owners/presidents of fruit companies and the vast network of growers. Mike is a grower, marketer, relationship-builder, and foremost, a leader. I can’t think of many individuals who could wear so many hats as Mike does, and still make a profound difference in turning this once-struggling industry into the powerhouse it is today.

Maurice “Mo” Tougas

Northborough, MA
“I cannot think of anyone who better meets the requirements of this award than Mo Tougas. Mo is a commercial apple grower of about 30 years. In that time, he has developed one of the most successful pick-your-own farms in New England and maybe the country. This success points to a keen awareness of marketing principles, but he also is exceptionally progressive as a horticulturist. Of his 35 acres of apples, 30 acres are in various high-density arrangements. He always obtains high yields of high-quality fruit which are attractive and accessible to his pick-your-own clientele. Mo has long been a leader in the apple industry. He serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation and the New England Apple Association. Outside of New England, he is a member of USApple’s Research Committee. He was also recently elected vice president of International Fruit Tree Association. Not only does Mo provide a great service to the industry through his various activities, but he is respected by his peers.