Support The Future Of The Fruit Industry With An IFTA Young Grower Scholarship

Support The Future Of The Fruit Industry With An IFTA Young Grower Scholarship

Young growers present at IFTA posed for a photo at the Old Orchard Inn in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, with former IFTA president Steve Blizzard following his Carlson Lecture. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)

Young growers present at IFTA posed for a photo at the Old Orchard Inn in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, with former IFTA president Steve Blizzard following his Carlson Lecture. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)

As an applied horticulturalist, I find the annual International Fruit Tree Association conferences to be a great way to discuss current horticultural research as well as to meet old and new colleagues and fruit growers from the U.S. and the world. I have missed very few of these meetings since I attended my first meeting in January 2009.

Mario Miranda Sazo

Mario Miranda Sazo

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This year’s meeting was very well attended and I was pleased to see a larger number of young growers at IFTA’s 58th annual conference in Halifax. These young growers attended as a result of several young grower scholarships that helped to defray the cost of conference registration.

This year’s conference offered a one-day intensive Honeycrisp workshop and covered several topics including mechanization, crop-adapted spraying, and storage of Honeycrisp. The Honeycrisp workshop attracted almost 400 people. The majority of them were a technically associated crowd of pomologists, entomologists, post-harvest scientists, plant pathologists, numerous Extension agents, orchard managers, owners, etc. What better way for the next generation of fruit growers to interact with the most progressive researchers and growers than at these sessions?

Building Relationships
The professional relationships these young fruit growers can form while attending IFTA activities are incredible. They have the opportunity to meet scientists and experienced horticulturalists from different backgrounds and cultures. They can make new friends and explore possibilities for future partnerships. Fruit growers from all over the world are always eager to meet and connect with them (regardless of their age/experience) whether in New York, Washington, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Poland, Chile, or any place where we meet for educational conferences and/or tours.

In my opinion, being immersed in one fruit production region tends to give a limited view of the horticultural challenges and/or opportunities a young or well-established fruit grower may have. Traveling outside their fruit region (or university campus, or research station) will show them many diverse ways to produce high-quality fruit under different climates and soil conditions in the Southern or Northern Hemispheres.

However, attracting one of the most important segments of our industry, the next generation of fruit growers — is not easy. It can be cost-prohibitive for young growers all across the U.S. to travel long distances to take advantage of the IFTA learning experience in a workshop setting or on the bus. The IFTA scholarship program is one way we can address this.

Your Support Is Needed
So what are you waiting for? Will you support the next generation of fruit growers in the coming years? The high attendance of young fruit growers in Halifax is the best example of what we can accomplish with your help and is a great opportunity for the future of the U.S. fruit industry.

To help support this industry and the next generation of fruit growers, you can donate online.