Being A Good Neighbor

Stone Fruit: Being A Good Neighbor

 

 

 

Growing up in a rural farming community in Ontario, Canada, it was common for me to see commercial orchards and vineyards with very few homes nearby — except for those of the farm owner or his neighbor. In many parts of North America today, however, the landscape is changing. The geographic and climatic locations that are suitable for growing fruits — and where they have been historically grown — are becoming increasingly more attractive areas for urban sprawl. Housing developments, commercial businesses, golf courses, and even public schools are beginning to encroach ever closer to some of the best fruit growing land that we have. This situation can create fear and consternation for the commercial fruit grower on the one hand, but also afford genuine hope and opportunity on the other.

The key to successfully navigating these changing times is being a good neighbor. This is an old concept and teaching but one that has practical significance to the fruit grower today. I am reminded of two very helpful verses of Scripture, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 22:39, respectively, New International Version). Building relationships based on honesty, trust, and regular communication can help to ensure that a vital coexistence and mutual benefit might be fostered between the fruit grower and his neighbors.

First, be an educator! The vast majority of people did not grow up on a farm and they have little or no experience growing plants — let alone fruit crops. They may have never even set foot on a real farm or even met a real farmer before. You can be the “face” of agriculture that they become familiar with and you can create a lasting, positive impression not only to build a loyal customer base but also as a provider of safe and delicious food to the locavores around you.

Maybe you already have a farm website or you produce an online newsletter or even have a web log (blog) to let people know what is going on at the farm. If not, how might you use modern tools of communication to share information with your neighbors? Pictures and editorial commentary on your website could be a great way to educate — even with a video, perhaps on YouTube. For example: “Today at our farm we are pruning our peach trees. We do this each winter to remove dead branches, to direct tree growth to produce more fruit, and to help open the canopy so that it can receive more sunlight to make our peaches more colorful and flavorful.”

Second, give back! Set aside some trees — part of an outside row, perhaps, that can be used for gleaning. Local food banks, soup kitchens, etc. can benefit from the seasonal availability of high quality and delicious fruits from your farm. The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996) was signed into law to protect you as the donor from liability when donating food to non-profit organizations. There may also be a local Master Gardener group who would be willing to come and pick fruit to share with the needy. Your provision out of your abundance can be used to nourish someone who is suffering for various reasons unknown to you. In our current economic climate, unemployment is increasing and more people are experiencing genuine need.

Third, be a good environmental steward! Your entire farm philosophy should encompass this goal, especially in areas where your neighbors are close. You need to demonstrate and communicate the efforts you are taking to be a good neighbor. For example, develop a pest management program that is as safe as possible. This could include using “soft” chemicals, sprayers that limit drift and even recapture spray, spraying at night, use of pheromone mating disruption, etc. Your state Extension specialists can help you learn about new techniques and technologies to ensure that your practices are the safest possible. Another aspect of this stewardship relates to sanitary practices in the field and at the market to ensure that the fruit is free from harmful human pathogens (i.e., E. coli) and safe to eat.

Finally, if you have some particular examples where you have successfully navigated these challenges that you think others might benefit from hearing, I would like to hear from you! I hope to devote a future column to this topic and make reference to successful “neighbor” stories for the benefit of all of our readers.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Jacket Rot Almonds featured image
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
An intern harvest salad greens at Churview Farm for a farm dinner FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Between Farm And Table
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Cosmis Crisp apples planting FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Marketers Differ In Their Crop Choices
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
apple tree trellising washington state
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure Expose Bigger Flaws
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Brandt logo
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Utah-Based Baicor
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Drip Irrigation
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On Soil Health
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Two chipping varieties Cornell released in the last few years that have shown promise are ‘Lamoka’ and ‘Waneta.’ 
“They both have outstanding chip color when fried out of the cold, which is a trait that’s important in the industry,” Cornell's Walter De Jong says.
Photo courtesy of Walter De Jong
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell University
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
workers bending
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To Your Staff
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
The Latest
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Be…
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Mark…
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Who’s Using Biocontrols, And Who I…
With so many consumers concerned about how food is grown, many farm marketers find themselves in the unexpected role of Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure …
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On So…
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinio…
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Fou…
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Berries
April 27, 2016
New Herbicide For Tomatoes, Strawberries
The product from Helm Agro US is registered to control more than 100 broadleaf, grass, and sedge species. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: On…
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Severa…
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]