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Photojournalist/Digital Producer TJ Mullinax and Editor Shannon Dininny on the coast in New Zealand. (Good Fruit Grower)

A few years ago, when I heard the International Fruit Tree Association was holding its next big study tour and conference in New Zealand, I gulped. I knew sending just one person across the ocean for 12 days would be costly for our grower-owned magazine. But knowing the extraordinary value of those tours and benefits to our readers, I decided to send two people.

Starting in our April 1 issue, you can see the return on the substantial investment we made to send Editor Shannon Dininny and Digital Producer/Photojournalist TJ Mullinax. You may have seen bits of their reporting on our Facebook or Twitter accounts, but today we unveil what happens when you send an excellent writer and photographer to cover an important topic, expertly organized by our friends at IFTA.

Shannon kicks off the first of her in-depth reports in this issue with a look at the exceptional work being done in New Zealand by growers and researchers. She provides insights into why that small country has such an outsize impact on the global tree fruit industry.

TJ, known for his gorgeous photography, delivers again with spectacular images from the South Island of New Zealand, plus in our Young Grower feature, TJ introduces us to Yvette Jones of Nelson, New Zealand. (Be sure to visit goodfruit.com for more shots, including special 360-degree images of different fruit systems and overhead images by TJ, who brought a drone to New Zealand. Up, down or all around, we got you covered.)

Good Fruit Grower has attended IFTA tours in the past, of course. But this year’s package of reporting and visuals, both in print and online, represents significant improvements our staff has made to the magazine over the past five years. You’ll see more from IFTA in future issues as well.

Thanks to support from advertisers and subscribers, we’ve made investments to significantly improve how we present educational information to the grower community. That’s our mission. We’ve updated our website, launched social media platforms, improved our eFlash electronic newsletter and, last year, launched a Spanish language website (goodfruit.com/es). Our primary showcase for editorial content and advertising, of course, remains print; and we’ve made big improvements there as well.

In the April 1 issue, you can see how the different parts of modern journalism come together, presented with elegance by designer Jared Johnson. Just as our editors deliver week after week, our New Zealand reports will provide information on good growing practices in more depth, detail and clarity than can be found in any other publication.

We often hear praise for improvements to the magazine, but I like to think we simply reflect the excellence and innovation of growers. The best growers, packers, marketers and others in our industry know what they must do to survive and thrive: Grow high quality fruit. Listen to customers. Today’s success is no guarantee of success tomorrow. We see a relentless push for innovation by growers every day, and that inspires us in our own work. We’re constantly trying to raise the bar in service to growers.

 


Gator Giveaway winner Leah Eddie, with, from left, Sarah, Matt and Logan. (O. Casey Corr/Good Fruit Grower)

We have a winner! And she’s used to it. Leah Eddie of Grandview, Washington, is the winner of the Gator Giveaway drawing sponsored by Good Fruit Grower, Wilbur-Ellis and Washington Tractor. Leah is pictured with her husband, Matt, and children, Sarah and Logan.

Leah entered the drawing last December at the annual meeting of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association. Asked if she had won drawings before, she said many times, winning an iPad from an earlier contest by Good Fruit Grower, plus a barbecue and guns at other events. Plus, there’s “my smoking-hot husband,” as she put it.

The Eddies run a 500-acre ranch where they grow apples and cherries. Leah appeared earlier in Good Fruit Grower in March 2015 in our Young Grower series.

Quincy Manning of Wilbur-Ellis joined me in congratulating her on winning the Gator.

 


 

A huge thanks to Northwest Farm Credit Services for becoming the newest sponsor of our Spanish language content. We also are grateful for the continuing support of premier sponsor, G.S. Long, and supporting sponsors, Washington State Tree Fruit Association and Simplot Grower Solutions, and for a multi-year grant from the Washington State Department of Agriculture. This support helps us expand the articles, translations, photographs and videos we provide as educational information for Spanish speakers in our community. •

-by O. Casey Corr is managing editor of Good Fruit Grower. He can be reached at casey.corr@goodfruit.com.