The OrganicA Project Progress Report: June 2006 - March 2009

Objective 2: Accomplishments

(a) OrganicA Project website… a resource for organic apple production

●Launched the OrganicA website ( ) in May 2007 which has received high praise. Since it began, 100% of stakeholders who evaluated the website found the organic information useful, with 76% stating it was “highly” useful. In addition, 56% of respondents stated that they have used the information on the website in decision-making; 81% believed that the website will enhance the adoption of organic apple production. The website is a “work in progress” and we are continuing to expand its contents. It includes sections on horticulture, organic IPM, and case studies of organic apple growers. The webpages have received over 11,000 visits since its launch. Stakeholders represent CA, CT, IA, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NY, VT, WA, WV, WI, and Canada.

The OrganicA Project website is the #1 citation on Google when a search on “organic apple”, “organic apple resources”, or “organic apple production” is conducted. interfaces are available in more than 100 languages and more than 150 country domains. The OrganicA Project has become a leading resource for organic apple information.

●Example of Comments on OrganicA Project and website in general from stakeholders from an on-line evaluation form from May 2007 - December 2008.

“Thank you for taking on this awesome project. We are interested in trying to become organic in at least one block of our orchard.” (MA)

“I am very pleased to hear about the project. I have been growing organic apples for the past five years but it has been a learn-by-fire experience. I will be sure to check back with the website. Thanks for your efforts.” (ME)

“We're happy that you are putting together a website that offers information for organic fruit growing in the Northeast. It is certainly difficult, but not impossible.” (MA)

“We are a group of volunteers who are supporting fruit research at WSU Mount Vernon Research Center. Looking forward to any and all creative ideas from your research in organic growing techniques.” (WA)

“Overall, the website has been very informative.” (VT)

“This is great. Glad you are sending this to me.” (MA)

“Bravo. This new organic apple site looks to be a promising resource.
Cheers for making it happen.” (ME)

“Your research findings would be a tremendous help to us. Thank you so much for all this information. I am slowly going through it all, it's been very helpful.” (CT)

“I am so glad to see this.” (MN)

“I’m very interested in organic and feel we need to learn more. “ (WV)

“Congratulations on organizing this much needed communication forum.
We have been involved in organic research in tree fruits for some time so look forward to being a part of this new group.” (Nova Scotia)

●Example of specific stakeholder comments on the 2008 weekly blog of orchard observations which were sent out over the OrganicA listserve and posted on the OrganicA website:

“I want to thank you for sending out the Orchard Observations. It has been an extremely useful tool for me. The pictures are great, as I can see the insect/disease that you are referring to. In fact I refer back to previous emails to get a better understanding of the situation I might encounter with our orchard.” (no state given)

“I like the narrative format for presenting your information from week to week, and also particularly appreciate the photographs that accompany the narrative. It is so important to ‘see’ what you are talking about. Hope you keep up the good work. I print out the information to keep for future reference.” (VT)

“I really like the email blog that you send out. Especially regarding the pests and management. Great photos.” (VT)

“Thanks for sending out your Orchard Observations. I am very interested to learn more about your approach, what management options you are considering, and any action you do take.” (WI)

● The OrganicA Project is the only organic apple resource developed by a land-grant university in the eastern United States listed on the USDA Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website: .

●It is also listed as a farmer resource for organic information on the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) website ( ), and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service Tree Fruit Network website (MOSES) ( ).


(b) Grower Meetings, Workshops, and Organic Orchard Tours -- for quick dissemination of research results and for information exchange among stakeholders

●Hosted and/or participated in numerous grower meetings where organic apple information has been exchanged and discussed. The content of the stakeholder meetings/orchard tours which we organized were highly evaluated by stakeholders, with a majority planning to use the information that was presented on their farms.
Orchard Tour held at the UVM Hort. Farm to discuss organic apple research on August 17, 2007. The event was open to the public and attended by nearly 50 participants. Seventy-five percent (75%) of the participants in the Open House described the event as very to extremely educational and all survey respondents (100%) said the OrganicA Project was very to extremely important in increasing information and insights into organic apple production. Evaluation and comments from growers were collected. All (100%) of the attendees who had orchards said they would be using the information presented in their own orchard. Link to details and photos: at:
●Presented updates of organic research at Vermont Tree Fruit Growers’ Association Annual Conference, February 2007, 2008, 2009. Meetings attended by 60 - 80 people including growers, state agriculture agency personnel, and industry representatives from VT, NY, MA, and NH. Discussion session followed research updates. Evaluations and input on grower research and educational priorities were collected. The majority of the growers strongly agree (70%- 82%) that organic apple production is a relevant to them.
"A New Look at Organic Apple Production in New England" at the 2007 New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference, December 11, 2007 in Manchester, NH. This session was organized by the OrganicA Project to present insights gained from the project along with a grower panel sharing their organic experiences. There was tremendous interest in the session; over 115 people were in attendance in a room that was filled to capacity with an overflow of people in the hallways outside the doors wanting to come into the session to hear the speakers. Evaluation and input on their most critical research and educational needs were collected from growers. All the survey respondents stated that the workshop increased awareness and knowledge of organic apple production, that they learned new techniques or ideas for organic apple production, and planned to use the information obtained. Link presentations from the session:
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s (NOFA-VT) Annual Winter Conference, Feb 16, 2008. The NOFA-VT Annual Winter Conference brings together over 800 farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, consumers, and educators to share in a day of workshops and conversation focused on keeping our food system safe, healthy, and a vibrant part of our state. We presented information about organic apple production and an update on what we have learned through the OrganicA Project.
Tri-State Extension Twilight Meeting, April 16, 2008 at Alyson's Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire. Research results were presented to an audience of approximately 50 commercial apple growers from VT, NH, and MA. Presented results and insights generated from the OrganicA Project.
Maine Organic Orchard Tour & Discussion, July 31, 2008, at Pietree Orchard in Sweden, Maine. About 27 people from Maine, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont enthusiastically walked through the organically-managed orchards and listened while Scott Miller described what he has accomplished and his goals for the future. Evaluation and input on critical organic needs from growers were collected. Ninety-one percent (91%) of respondents found the tour and discussion very educational, increasing their awareness and knowledge of organic apple production; 71% said they planned on using the information in their own orchards. Link to a blog report of the organic orchard tour is at:
●Discussed organic apple research with the Board of Directors of Vermont Tree Fruit Growers’ Association and asked for input., November 2006, March 2007, March & November 2008.

New England, New York, Canadian Fruit Pest Management Workshop Annual Conference, Burlington, VT. October 2006, 2007, 2008. Presented research updates and discussed organic apple production in region. Meetings attended by 45-55 scientists, extension personnel, and independent IPM consultants from New England, NY, NJ, WV, MI, Quebec and Nova Scotia, and is considered one of the best meetings to exchange IPM apple research and insights by its participants. The following are general comments about the meeting:

“The meeting continues to be the best meeting for exchange of useful information on the fruit industry.”

“This is one of the most useful research/extension meetings each year, and provides a unique opportunity to interact with colleagues in this region for both research and extension-oriented projects and issues.”

“This meeting always provides a forum to hear about the newest IPM ideas and topics before they are mainstreamed.”


(c) National and International forums for dissemination of research results and for information exchange

●Presented and discussed the OrganicA Project at the International Organic Tree Fruit Research Symposium, March 4-7, 2007 in East Lansing, MI. Attended by organic growers, researchers and extension personnel. Link to poster: The OrganicA Project: An Integrated Apple Research, Education, and Extension Project;
Link to poster: The OrganicA Project: Preliminary "Top-Grafting" Results in a Transitional Organic Apple Orchard
●Presented OrganicA Project at the 16th International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Organic World Congress, June 16-20, 2008 in Modena, Italy. The congress was structured around the IFOAM Principles of Organic Agriculture, and addressed a wide range of issues offering platforms to build bridges between different cultures and regions. Link to poster abstract: Horticultural options when starting an organic apple orchard
●Research results presented at the VII International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC) International conference on Integrated Fruit Production, October 27-30, 2008 in Avignon, France. The IOBC Working Group Integrated Plant Protection in Fruit Crops meeting, organized by French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), was attended by 200 international practitioners, researchers, and extension professionals. Link to poster: The OrganicA Project: Organic Disease Management in Orchards with ‘Newer’ Cultivars.
●Research results and project update presented at the Great Lakes Fruit Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO, December 9-11, 2008 in Grand Rapids, MI. As part of Organic Tree Fruit Production session. The EXPO is one of the largest shows in North America for fruit and vegetable growers and farm marketers. Over 3,600 registered for the 2008 EXPO. Link to program and abstract:


(d) Other extension/outreach accomplishments and acknowledgements in mass media

●Providing eOrganic leadership for the Tree Fruit Discipline Group and the Organic Apple Research and Outreach Group

●OrganicA Project was featured on two television programs aired on WCAX-TV Across the Fence, the longest-running daily farm and home television program in the country. Programs are seen in 25,000 households that include all of Vermont, and parts of New York, New Hampshire, and Quebec. Video presentations:

“Research on Organic Apple Growing at the University of Vermont Horticultural Research Farm”
October 14, 2008 airdate.

“Organic Apple Production at the University of Vermont Horticultural Research Farm” July 31, 2007 airdate.

●The OrganicA Project was featured in a Vermont Public Radio commentary on Sept. 10, 2007. This statewide station is one of the most-listened-to public radio stations in the country, based on radio listening per capita, with more than 23,000 listeners.
●The OrganicA Project was featured on the inaugural edition of the University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences website on Aug. 31, 2007.
●The OrganicA Project was featured in HortIdeas Gardening Newsletter on Nov-Dec 2007, 24(6). HortIdeas is a national publication that reports on the latest research, methods, tools, plants, books, etc., for vegetable, fruit, and flower gardeners gathered from popular and technical sources.
●The OrganicA Project was the focus of two articles written in 2008 for the Friends of the Horticulture Farm Newsletter which reaches over 450 people. The Friends is an organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing and promoting the significant plant collections and natural areas of the Horticultural Research Farm in South Burlington, Vermont for education, research, and public enrichment. The group is composed of interested citizens, local garden club members, professional horticulturists, and landscape architects working in partnership with the University of Vermont.
●OrganicA Project research was presented in two seminars to the Plant & Soil Science Department at the University of Vermont in Fall 2008. Presentations attended by 20-30 faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students.
●A March 24, 2008 article by Dave Rosenberger in Scaffolds Fruit Journal on “Thinking Organic?” credits Lorraine Berkett, the PI of The OrganicA Project, for providing ideas and information for the article. Scaffolds, a weekly update on apple pest management and crop development during the growing season, is published by Cornell University- NYS Agricultural Experiment Station (Geneva) and Ithaca - with the assistance of Cornell Cooperative Extension. Link to article:
●OrganicA Project personnel responded one-on-one to grower and prospective grower inquiries on organic apple production throughout the first three years of the project.