I guess I should introduce myself.
I didn’t grow up on a farm, but farming was always a part of my growing up. My grandparents, you see, were homesteaders. They grew corn, wheat, hay, and raised beef cattle on 600 acres in southeastern Kansas. While that might seem a lot to some folks, it was a small farm by today’s standards. They had eggs laid by chickens in their backyard, tomatoes grown in their large garden, and beef raised on their land. It was their home, not a factory. Although I was without a doubt raised a child of suburbia, those ten or so years laid the groundwork for my decision to become a farmer.
In the spring of 1984 a classmate of mine at Virginia Tech announced that his father was looking for summer help at their orchard. I wasn’t doing anything, so I signed up for what turned out to be the longest, hottest, and absolutely most rewarding summer I had ever experienced. I was hooked on farming. I spent the next 5 years (more or less) working those 1600 acres of peaches and apples. I learned much about basic farming, helped create standard Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, and developed my own philosophies about sustainable agriculture and clean food.
I have spent the past 25 years learning about the good, bad, and the ugly residents of orchards since becoming a good practitioner of IPM requires one to know what the heck’s out there in the first place. There’s no argument that advanced IPM, organic, and biodynamic farming are the future of food production in the U.S…which brings me to Red Jacket Orchards.
Red Jacket Orchards has been around for 50 years and successfully established itself as a word class farm business. We grow about 600 acres of apples, stone fruit, and berries. Of that, our plums and apricots are certified sustainably grown by the Food Alliance. One of the reasons I joined Red Jacket Orchards was to implement advanced IPM programs, in addition to farming some crops organically, and help certify more crops as sustainably grown. Sustainability at all levels is a primary commitment of Red Jacket Orchard. Today and tomorrow, and every day thereafter, we are preparing for the next 50 years through our increasing commitment to sustainable business and farming practices. Look for us to transition more land to certified sustainable production and to include some acreage as certified organic. I’m Mike, and I’m the new director or farming operations. Glad to be on board!!