It’s a Family Reunion at IFTA

I was talking with a grower at this year’s International Fruit Tree Association (IFTA) Conference in Wenatchee, WA, about how we editors cover these events, knowing there are a few publications represented and we’re all listening to the same presentations and visiting the same orchards. I told him my approach is to listen for common themes among the presentations and use that as a starting point for my reports.

A few of those themes will appear in the content of this month’s cover story, but one that won’t make it is one I heard continually at this year’s conference — family. Quite a few IFTA board members talked about how the organization is more than a community, and I agree.

This year marked my fifth consecutive IFTA conference — and seventh IFTA event if you count summer tours. Every year it feels more and more like a family reunion, where I look forward to catching up with folks I’ve met from all over the country and globe.

I fondly remember meeting Tom Chudleigh and his orchard manager Bruce Shannon and his wife, Hilda, on a trolley tour of Boston. I jokingly told Tom I must have looked like a lost puppy on my second day at one of these conferences, because they adopted me and I joined them on stop after stop around the city. Little did I know then that the first person I would meet was a former IFTA president! I joined Tom, Bruce, and Hilda at the banquet in Boston, and I try to sit with the Chudleighs’ folks every year.

Then there was the time Evan and Nathan Milburn joined me for pie in Kelowna, BC, and essentially put me through a job interview. They asked me about everything from my background in agriculture to my work history; I think they might have even asked my graduating GPA and my ACT scores. I must have fared well, because Evan joined me for pie again this year, in what is becoming an annual tradition.

And while I’ve met growers from around the world, little did I know I’d meet someone from my hometown on a bus in Washington State during the 2015 IFTA Summer Tour. That’s right, I traveled 2,000-some miles and sat next to Joe Olecki of Mitchell’s Orchard and Farm Market in Ashland, OH, which is less than a mile away from my parents’ house.

These experiences not only make me smile, but they make me look forward to every conference. You’re more than just a member of an organization in being part of IFTA — you’re as incoming president Rod Farrow put it — “a 699-person family.”

Rod went on to say “the strength of what IFTA provides is family.” For every one of you I’ve met through IFTA, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for being my orchard family and for making the big world of orcharding seem so much more welcoming.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Apples & Pears Stories
Apples & Pears
May 2, 2017
Washington Apple Industry Giants Merge
Chelan Fresh and Borton Fruit combine; total sales volume increases by nearly half. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 1, 2017
May Day, May Day – Look Out for Fire Blight
Now that spring has really sprung, a Washington State University expert says it’s time for apple growers to do their homework. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 26, 2017
Debunking the Myth of Calcium and Fruit Quality
Nutrient management and crop quality clearly go hand in hand. But not always in the ways you might think. In Read More
Apples & Pears
April 24, 2017
Researcher Uncovers the Origins of ‘Honeycrisp’ Apple
Thanks to the scientific data available through gene sequencing, a graduate student unlocks the mystery parentage. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 21, 2017
Interpera Congress Heads to Pacific Northwest in June
International pear conference comes to the U.S. for the first time. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 19, 2017
Young Apple Growers Meet with Lawmakers
Apple leaders from across the country discuss ag issues such as labor, trade, and research. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 18, 2017
Researchers Say it is Time to Scout for Apple Diseases
With bloom underway, the risk for fire blight and scab are high. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 6, 2017
‘Envy’ Top Variety in USApple Tournament
The ‘Royal Gala’ and ‘Braeburn’ cross is a slam-dunk winner in Apple Madness bracket tournament. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 3, 2017
Jim Allen, Matt Wells Join New York Apple Sales
Allen named Vice President of Marketing and Wells named Director of Field Service. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 28, 2017
Washington State University Offers Powdery Mildew Management Tips
Opening buds may be exposed to overwintering inoculum as temperatures begin to rise. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 27, 2017
It’s a Family Reunion at IFTA
Some of my fondest memories on the road are at IFTA conferences. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 27, 2017
Out of this World Expectations for ‘Cosmic Crisp’ Apple
With millions of trees going into PNW orchards, Washington State growers are betting big on ‘Cosmic Crisp'. The shift in varieties planted and more took center stage when the International Fruit Tree’s Annual Conference met in Wenatchee, WA. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 25, 2017
Two MAIA Releases Available for Growers, Hobbyists
‘Crunch-A-Bunch’ is an early ‘GoldRush’ and ‘Bakers Delight’ is a secret ingredient for baking. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In Steptoe Butte
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 11, 2017
Stark Bro’s Debuts Two New ‘Honeycrisp’ Crosses
Both ‘Stark Ruby Darling’ and ‘Stark Scarlet Crush’ boast sweetness, crunch, and non-browning attributes. Read More
The Latest
Apples & Pears
May 23, 2017
Grower Shares Personal Impact of Labor S…
USApple leader Phil Glaize of Virginia stresses need for reform with current labor regulations, programs at Congressional briefing on agriculture labor crisis. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 15, 2017
U.S. Apple Board Member Stresses Labor R…
Michigan apple grower says agriculture’s future depends on Farm Bill funding. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 8, 2017
Abundant Robotics Gets $10M Investment f…
The goal is to pick apples with the same, if not better, fruit quality than traditional harvesting. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 2, 2017
Washington Apple Industry Giants Merge
Chelan Fresh and Borton Fruit combine; total sales volume increases by nearly half. Read More
Apples & Pears
May 1, 2017
May Day, May Day – Look Out for Fire Bli…
Now that spring has really sprung, a Washington State University expert says it’s time for apple growers to do their homework. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 26, 2017
Debunking the Myth of Calcium and Fruit …
Nutrient management and crop quality clearly go hand in hand. But not always in the ways you might think. In Read More
Apples & Pears
April 24, 2017
Researcher Uncovers the Origins of ‘Hone…
Thanks to the scientific data available through gene sequencing, a graduate student unlocks the mystery parentage. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 21, 2017
Interpera Congress Heads to Pacific Nort…
International pear conference comes to the U.S. for the first time. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 19, 2017
Young Apple Growers Meet with Lawmakers
Apple leaders from across the country discuss ag issues such as labor, trade, and research. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 18, 2017
Researchers Say it is Time to Scout for …
With bloom underway, the risk for fire blight and scab are high. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 6, 2017
‘Envy’ Top Variety in USApple Tournament
The ‘Royal Gala’ and ‘Braeburn’ cross is a slam-dunk winner in Apple Madness bracket tournament. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 3, 2017
Jim Allen, Matt Wells Join New York Appl…
Allen named Vice President of Marketing and Wells named Director of Field Service. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 28, 2017
Washington State University Offers Powde…
Opening buds may be exposed to overwintering inoculum as temperatures begin to rise. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 27, 2017
It’s a Family Reunion at IFTA
Some of my fondest memories on the road are at IFTA conferences. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 27, 2017
Out of this World Expectations for ̵…
With millions of trees going into PNW orchards, Washington State growers are betting big on ‘Cosmic Crisp'. The shift in varieties planted and more took center stage when the International Fruit Tree’s Annual Conference met in Wenatchee, WA. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 25, 2017
Two MAIA Releases Available for Growers,…
‘Crunch-A-Bunch’ is an early ‘GoldRush’ and ‘Bakers Delight’ is a secret ingredient for baking. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 21, 2017
Two More Lost Apple Varieties Found In S…
Amateur apple detective strikes again with two more finds in abandoned orchards near state park. Read More
Apples & Pears
March 11, 2017
Stark Bro’s Debuts Two New ‘Honeycrisp’ …
Both ‘Stark Ruby Darling’ and ‘Stark Scarlet Crush’ boast sweetness, crunch, and non-browning attributes. Read More