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Each summer, in an effort to educate produce managers about stone fruit and Family Tree Farms’s commitment to producing the most ­flavorful fruit, Family Tree Farms conducts Flavor Tech University.

The two-day program is a comprehensive, hands-on training course for store-level produce personnel. Up to 20 personnel participate at a time, getting a crash course in tree fruit farming. Field study includes learning about production issues like pruning, thinning, girdling, grafting, and pest management, proper ripening and handling, and packing house issues, while the classroom study focuses on consumer behavior.

The new research and development facility and farm of Family Tree Farms will play a key role in the education process, providing participants with ready access to different stone fruit selections grown at the research farm, as well as an opportunity to evaluate fruit on display in the R & D building.
"The produce manager is the one that’s selling our fruit," said David Jackson, president of Family Tree Farms.

They started the Flavor Tech program to teach produce managers about what is involved in tree fruit production and how to better store and handle the fruit. They’ve seen a dramatic increase in their fruit sales in the stores that participate in their program, with increases of up to 200 percent after participation.

Last year, about 250 produce personnel participated in the university, according to Jackson. This year, they expect to host 450 produce personnel and retail executives through the two-day program.