We here at Western Fruit Grower magazine have a long and deep relationship with the Pacific Northwest fruit industry. For visual evidence, check out the picture of Editor Emeritus Dick Meister, patriarch of our parent company, Meister Media Worldwide. He was invited to speak at the banquet when he attended his first Washington State Horticultural Association annual meeting, back in 1948.
Then, as now, Dick was a big believer in growers uniting to speak with one powerful voice, so it’s only fitting that this “The Pacific Northwest Report, State Of The Industry” you are holding in your hands comes out just prior to the first meeting of the successor to the WSHA, the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. Dick, incidentally, is still going gangbusters at the age of 95, and plans on writing a series this coming year on our country’s truly sustainable apple orchards — those going back several generations. Can’t wait to read it; I’m a history buff and Dick’s a deft wordsmith.
For the 100th anniversary of the WSHA — hard to believe it was a full decade ago — we published a special report marking the centennial. Over 10 days, I visited nearly every one of the 25 former presidents of the WSHA, starting up north in Okanogan and finishing down by the Columbia River with the late, great George Ing. As I mentioned, I love history, so it was quite a treat.
In that special centennial report, Dick wrote a piece about the WSHA, “A Story Of Change.” He opened with the following:
History is a story of change and adaptation to new circumstances which is vividly revealed in researching 100 years of the Washington Hort Association. But there is a silver thread which runs through the tumultuous years which is steady and strong. That thread is the constant pursuit of growing the best apples and best fruit anywhere in the world, and being recognized internationally as the leader.
Rings true today of the entire Pacific Northwest. Dick continued:
The annual meeting of the Association, rotating between Wenatchee and Yakima, became an event one must not miss in order to keep up to date with the pulse of the industry. Washington’s annual meeting was where it all came together, where differing views were heard, and where ideas were subjected to critical scrutiny. It was where action plans were born, where leaders showed their vision, where the vigor and strength of the industry were expressed. People came from far and wide, from overseas, from neighboring states, including Eastern growers who wanted to know what their competition from Washington State was doing. Washington became the state where the action was, the best growers, the latest technology and newest varieties, the most aggressive promotion, and most forward-looking ideas.
That, too, remains true. It’s why we, the editors of Western Fruit Grower, thought it appropriate to come out with a special report on the state of the industry on the eve of the first meeting of the WSHA’s successor, and the first meeting not in Wenatchee and Yakima, but in the Tri-Cities. We hope you enjoy it.