The judging for the Apple Grower Of The Year award is an interesting process that takes us through new twists and turns each year. While we have a well-defined set of qualifications we’re looking for in the nominations we consider, we seldom, if ever, find a candidate that’s a slam dunk winner in every category across the board. Every nominee has different strengths, and different routes they take to success in our industry.
Some years the winner is an amazing horticulturist. Others, we end up choosing someone based on decades of groundbreaking efforts in developing new markets or new varieties.
Other times, like this year, a winner is selected based on different qualities, such as service to the industry, or skilled marketing efforts that raise awareness of apples not just for their own farm, but for the entire industry. That’s exactly why Bill Dodd is American Fruit Grower’s® 2015 Apple Grower Of The Year.SM
This year’s Apple Grower Of The Year award, sponsored by Valent U.S.A., received a record number of really excellent nominations. But none were quite like Bill — particularly in the area of his contributions that help other growers.
Bill is an adept marketer in promoting his own orchard and agritainment operation, Hillcrest Orchards, in Amherst, OH. But he’s also pretty adept in promoting your needs and your business as well.
Whether he’s serving as an officer of an association or working within the industry to find solutions to the challenges growers of all sizes face on a daily basis, Bill is a leader.
The nomination we received for Bill this year came from one of his peers, a grower in a neighboring state that has seen first-hand the results of Bill’s efforts:
“Bill sets a high standard for service to the fruit growing industry. Besides operating a fruit farm he serves on the board of the International Fruit Tree Association, is past chairman of USApple, president of the Ohio Fruit Growers Marketing Organization, program director of the Ohio Apples Marketing Program, and executive director of the Premier Apple Cooperative.
“Four years ago he assumed the role of executive director of the Midwest Apple Improvement Association, and in this role has shepherded the introduction of the organization’s first release, ‘EverCrisp’, using an innovative ‘managed open’ release. This marketing mechanism is being reviewed around the world as possible strategy to commercialization of new fruit varieties. The breeding program is supported while all growers have access to the new material. This is a pleasant and needed change from the recent trend of proprietary varieties.”
Bill Dodd is an apple grower of the year for the future of our industry — helping create opportunity for the next generation of growers and increased consumption of apples among the next generation of consumers.
Thanks Bill, and congratulations.