Teeple chairs USApple

John Teeple of Teeple Farms, Inc., Wolcott, New York, chairs the U.S. Apple Association for 2009-2010. He succeeds Bruce Grim, Entiat, Washington.

Teeple, a third-generation grower, grows more than 15 varieties of apples on his 400 acres of orchard in upstate New York. He’s a member of the Lake County Storage Cooperative and the Empire Fruit Growers Cooperative.

Teeple, a former chair of the New York Apple Association, expects the number-one issue that USApple will be working on this year will be immigration. “We hope to get some form of the AgJOBS Bill from Congress this year,” he said.

Other USApple officers elected during the association’s annual meeting are: Julia Rothwell of Belding Fruit Storage, Belding, Michigan, vice chair; Dale Foreman of Foreman Fruit and Land Company, Wenatchee, Washington, secretary; and John Graden of Dovex, Inc., Wenatchee, treasurer.

Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, was named to a board position reserved for state executives.

Three new members have joined the board: Ken Johnson of Farmington Fresh, Stockton, California; Fred Leitz with Leitz Farms, Sodus, Michigan; and Mark Nicholson of Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, New York.

Remaining on the board are: George Allan of Allan Bros., Inc., Naches, Washington; Dave Benner of El Vista Orchards, Fairfield, Pennsylvania; Dan Boyer, Ridgetop Orchards, Fishertown, Pennsylvania; Chris Britton of BK Partners in Modesto, California; Bill Dodd of the Fruit Growers Marketing Association in Newcomerstown, Ohio; Kelly Henggeler of Henggeler Packing Compay, Inc., Fruitland, Idaho; Joe Klein of Royal J. Klein & Sons LLC, Sparta, Michigan; Ned O’Neill of Joseph P. Sullivan in Ayer, Massachusetts; Lee Peters of Fowler Brothers, Inc., Wolcott, New York; Bob Price of Price Cold Storage in Yakima, Washington; Tom Stokes of Tree Top, Inc., Selah, Washington; Mike Wade of Columbia Fruit Packers, Inc., Wenatchee, Washington; Jaime Williams of Bowman Fruit Sales LLC, Timberville, Virginia; John Wyss of Gebbers Farms, Brewster, Washington; and Bill Zirkle, Rainier Fruit Company, Selah.

Brothers launch winery

Grandview, Washington, growers Bill and Andy den Hoed have partnered with Long Shadows founder Allen Shoup and winemaker Rob Newsom to create Den Hoed Wine Estates.

Two new winesnamed for their Dutch immigrant parents, Andreas and Mariewere released this fall, with small amounts made of the 2005 Den Hoed Marie’s View, a red blend (134 cases), and the 2006 Den Hoed Andreas Cabernet Sauvignon (187 cases). The partners have worked on this project since a joint venture was established in 2005.

More than a decade ago, the brothers had a vision for what has become a showcase vineyard overlooking the Columbia River near Wallula Gap. Andy and Bill began developing Wallula Vineyard in 1997, carving a unique vineyard out of the benches of a steep, south-facing bluff. Though they had considered winemaking for years, it wasn’t until they worked closely with Shoup and his Long Shadows winemaking partners beginning in 2002 that the idea for Den Hoed Wine Estates took hold, Andy said in a news release.

In 2007, the den Hoeds sold about 700 acres of vineyards in the Yakima Valley to California-based Vintage Wine Trust. In 2008, Shoup and other investors formed a partnership that purchased 80 percent of the 750-acre Wallula Vineyard from the den Hoeds, who kept 20 percent and a management contract. Shoup has renamed the property “The Benches” and saved the Wallula Vineyard name for the earliest planted vines and the large biodynamic vineyard planted for Randall Graham’s Pacific Rim Winery in West Richland.

Advanced viticulture offered

An advanced level of the Latino Agricultural Education Program for Viticulture is now offered for vineyard supervisors, announced the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers. Level 2 of the program available through Yakima Valley Community College begins in November when grape harvest is wrapped up. The advanced level will follow the sustainable viticulture curriculum developed by WAWGG as part of its Vinewise program, discussing topics from business and marketing plans to soil and water management, vineyard establishment, and pest management, to human resources. Tuition for the vineyard program is free, but a $250 fee per student is required to cover books, field trip travel, and other costs. To register, contact andrea@wawgg.org or call (509) 782-8234.

Top apple artist

Kelsey Kane, 15, of Poulsbo, Washington, is the grand prize winner in the Washington Apple Education Foundation’s 2009 Year of the Apple Art Contest. She received a $1,000 savings bond for her pastel picture entitled “Apple.” The picture will be featured on the 2010 Dow AgroSciences wall calendar.

Kelsey was one of 15 students who shared $4,750 in prize money.

Full contest results, pictures of other winning entries, and notecards featuring students’ artwork can be found on the foundation’s Web site at www.waef.org.

Sustainability grant

SureHarvest, a California-based company that provides farm management software, consulting services, and third-party sustainability certification, has received a $630,000 grant on behalf of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to test metrics for sustainability performance of specialty crop production.

The Stewardship Index for Specialty crops (www.stewardshipindex.org) was founded a year ago to develop a system for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain and involves 200 stakeholders from all sectors of the supply chain.

The metrics relate to air quality, biodiversity and habitat, community, energy, greenhouse gas emissions, human resources, plant nutrients, packaging, pesticides, soil quality, waste, water quality, and water use. The company will test the metrics with growers, shippers, distributors, food processors, and retailers. They will then be pilot tested to demonstrate how using the metrics can improve conservation performance and provide value to supply chain participants by communicating meaningful data to buyers.

No minimum wage increase

For the first time since the minimum wage initiative was passed by Washington State voters in 1998, the state minimum wage will not increase on January 1, 2010. It will remain at $8.55 an hour—still the highest in the nation—because the Consumer Price Index for the 12-month period ending in August did not rise.

The law requires that the state minimum wage be increased for inflation each year according to the change in the federal Consumer Price Index during the 12 months ending August 31. This year, the index decreased during the 12-month period by 1.9 percent compared to the previous year’s increase of 5.9 percent. Washington’s minimum wage applies to workers in both agricultural and nonagricultural jobs, although 14- and 15-year-olds may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage.

Local food studies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated $230,000 for studies to assess the capacity of the northeastern United States to produce enough food locally to meet market demands of the burgeoning East Coast population, rather than relying on food transported long distances. The studies are part of the USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.

The Agricultural Research Service will provide $200,000 in additional funding for its laboratories in Orono, Maine, and Beltsville, Maryland, to hire two scientists to determine the suitability of East Coast soils for agricultural production and the availability of land in the Northeast for local production of fruits and vegetables.

ARS is also providing $30,000 to Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, to assess marketing and processing options for local food production and determine how land-use policies could encourage such production.