Dan Cooley, UMass plant pathologist, and Jon Clements, Cold Spring Orchard are both part of the Eco Apple advisory group and have helped to develop Red Tomato’s Eco program as part of a larger effort to support growers who use sustainable practices and need to find markets for their fruit. Jon, Dan and the other scientists from the region — Cornell, UConn, Maine, VT and PA among others — are available to answer questions, participate in monthly advisory calls, and share their research at annual meetings. They do the same for numerous other grower and public focused projects throughout the year. They are public servants and generous with their time and knowledge.
A simple door at the end of a hallway in the Cold Spring packing house opens into a whole other world: lab tables, dials and instruments, protective gear, and computers line the room. Here various UMass scientists and grad students test fruit, examine insects, and analyze data from the research plots outside. They also keep in regular contact with fellow researchers around the country and around the world to share information and collaborate.
Scientists work alongside growers, helping them to keep up with the latest research on varieties, pest management, invasive insects, diseases and weather challenges, and finding new ways to manage all of these production challenges more ecologically, economically and sustainably.
Growers in the Red Tomato network work closely with scientists at the land grant universities and experiment stations in each state, and rely on newsletters and reports like Scaffolds, published by the Geneva, NY Experiment Station, and Fruit Notes at UMass. They participate in growers meetings, field days and other opportunities to share information with each other and keep up with the latest research and growing practices. All of us benefit when we enjoy fresh local produce. It’s up to all of us, as citizens as well as consumers, to support the publicly funded scientists behind that great research too.