WILLOUGHBY, Ohio (PRWEB) August 03, 2018
Phil and Judy Schwallier of Sparta, MI, have been named the 2018 Apple Grower of the Year℠ by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines, published by Meister Media Worldwide. The Schwalliers will receive the award during the USApple Outlook and Marketing Conference, August 23, in Chicago, IL.
The Apple Grower of the Year award program, sponsored by Valent U.S.A., honors apple growers who have gone beyond the confines of the orchard and have, through their involvement and leadership, made a real impact on the apple industry.
The Schwalliers were honored for having a tremendous impact on one of the premier fruit-growing regions of the U.S., Peach Ridge, a 160-square-mile area near Grand Rapids. Besides being fruit growers, each Schwallier has made a mark on the industry through other means, Phil as a long-time Michigan State University Extension advisor, and Judy for their successful farm market, Schwallier’s Country Basket.
The Schwalliers have led their fellow growers on the Ridge to adopt modern, high-density, intensively farmed orchards. Their contributions in modernizing the Michigan apple industry helped save it from a gloomy future in the processed apple market trying to compete with low-cost competitors such as China.
Mark Mason, Tree Fruit Crop Manager at Valent U.S.A., says the award sponsor is honored to recognize the Schwalliers — two individuals who have propelled the apple industry forward each season and have worked together as a team to build long-term success for their own operation, Schwallier's Country Basket.
“Through their involvement and leadership in the apple industry, Phil and Judy have demonstrated their hard work, loyalty, and devotion to apple growers and consumers everywhere,” Mason says. “We would also like to acknowledge Phil and his extensive research efforts on apples, particularly plant growth regulators. As an educator with Michigan State University Extension, Phil's work has influenced countless growers and their outlook on apple production."
The Schwalliers are not the first couple to be chosen as Apple Grower of the Year. In fact, they’re not even the first from Michigan, as Harold and JoAnn Thome of Comstock Park, MI were chosen in 1992. One other couple has also received the award, Bill and Jeannette Evans of Yakima, WA, in 2014.
Phil Schwallier, upon learning of the honor, was typically self-effacing.
“We are very humbled to have received such a prestigious award, and to be listed with those great fruit growers who have come before us. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we were that caliber. All that has been done to support us has been just overwhelming. We thank you so much for this award," he says.
The Ridge’s informal headquarters is Schwallier’s Country Basket. It’s a farm shop Judy Schwallier has taken from a picnic table by the side of the road, to a must-visit recommendation by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce.
The Schwalliers were a popular choice, says David Eddy, Editor of American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower, noting the Selection Committee reviewed many thoughtful nominations for the couple.
“It is with great pleasure we honor the Schwalliers for their contributions to the industry as Apple Grower of the Year,” he says. “Besides their long list of achievements, which is incredibly extensive, they are just really fine people, the salt of the earth.”
The president and CEO of the U.S. Apple Association, Jim Bair, says that welcoming attitude comes shining through.
“Phil Schwallier may be a university instructor, but he is as far from an Ivory Tower Academic as you can possibly get, and I mean that in the best way possible. As an Extension scientist he takes his vast knowledge of production, thinning, storage and IPM directly to the growers who can benefit from it,” Bair says. “More than that, as an apple grower himself he validates his advice in his own orchard and that adds credibility. The growers in his area are lucky to have him.”
About The Award
The Apple Grower of the Year℠ award is presented annually by American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines and honors apple growers who have gone beyond the confines of the orchard and have, through their involvement and leadership, made a real impact on the apple industry. American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower are published by Meister Media Worldwide.
About Meister Media Worldwide –– Empowering Global Agriculture
Meister Media Worldwide, founded in 1932 with headquarters in Willoughby, Ohio, USA, produces integrated business solutions for worldwide specialized agriculture. A leader in the industry, the company provides information and networking opportunities to communities including fruits, nuts, and citrus; vegetables; cotton; ornamental horticulture; horticulture in Mexico; precision agriculture; custom application of crop inputs; and the manufacturing, formulation, and distribution of crop protection and plant health products in the U.S. and globally. Meister Media’s stable now includes 12 major brands whose portfolios include print publications, digital products, conferences and tradeshows, and Connect hosted-buyer events. In addition, Meister Direct produces custom print and digital products, and strategic business development services from concept planning through development and delivery. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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