Fred Wescott of Honeybear Brands Introduces TruEarth™ Environmental Growing Practices
ELGIN, MN - In extended efforts to promote and offer consumers a more sustainable fruit, 11 leading apple orchards in the Minnesota and Wisconsin growing regions have announced their commitment to TruEarth™.
TruEarth is a new grower protocol and certification program developed by Fred Wescott of Honeybear Brands, together with the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America.
“As growers and apple producers we’ve had a decades-long tradition of doing the right thing when it comes to our land, produce and farming communities,” says Fred Wescott, President of Honeybear Brands, and Owner of Wescott Orchards. “TruEarth and the commitment of our growing partners is a continuation of this environmental focus and we hope it will help to play one small part in Minnesota’s efforts to reduce pesticide use across the agricultural sector.”
Through its guidelines, the program does the following, according to a press release:
- Safeguards the land
- Protects biodiversity in orchards
- Creates a sustainable and local farming economy for Midwest apple growers
The program was in development for seven years, prior to reaching 100 percent grower participation this year. TruEart speculated that this commitment is due in part to a growing attention in Minnesota on protective measures for the state’s honeybee population, including a recent executive order by Governor Mark Dayton to limit the use of certain pesticides.
“TruEarth goes far beyond protecting just our native wild bees and honeybees. It’s intended as a roadmap and a grower community commitment to producing the best possible fruit to put on grocery store shelves with the most care and the least impact on our environment,” continued Wescott.
Growers participating in the TruEarth program include members of the Mississippi Valley Fruit Company. Participation includes a comprehensive-farming assessment to determine areas of improvement in the growers’ operation, as well as identifying sustainable practices used to manage pests.
“This is a true leadership initiative making a real difference,” says Dr. Tom Green, President of the IPM Institute. “We’re delighted to collaborate with Honeybear Brands to help create a meaningful program which protects our resources for future generations by using advanced practices for fruit production which benefit consumers, farmworkers and the environment.”
TruEarth also reviews the land management practices of its participating growers, enhancing their protections for pollinators and wildlife. TruEarth’s guidelines help orchardists develop the most advanced and sustainable farming practices through the following:
- Comprehensive monitoring protocols help identify pests and time specific treatments only when they exceed research-based thresholds
- Identify strategies to manage pests without the use of highly toxic pesticides
- Bee pollinator surveys conducted annually at each growing location to assess bee health and identify actions items to improve native bee habitat
- Prohibition of the most highly toxicity pesticides used in apple production
- Protection of biodiversity including beneficial insects and wildlife
- Cleaner water by reducing soil erosion
- Apples free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
- Energy and water conservation in orchards and packing facilities
- Ongoing recycling of waste
To make sure that all of its participating orchards are in compliance with its protocol, TruEarth provides annual audits of growers. Likewise, the program holds an annual meeting so its participants can share information on new advances in sustainable farming practices and learn from one another.
For more information on the program and its opportunities, click here.
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