Mar 27, 2024
Pennsylvania grower group says ‘farewell’ to leader

The Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention and the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) recognized industry leaders, including recently retired executive director Bill Troxell, at its Jan. 30 annual awards banquet.

Life Membership Awards

Troxell began his tenure at PVGA in 1983. At the time, he was working on Dale Whitenight’s vegetable farm in Danville. Whitenight was PVGA’s president at the time. When the group’s executive secretary resigned, Whitenight encouraged Troxell to step in.

Bill Troxell played many behind-the-scenes roles for the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association. Here, he completes paperwork at the 2017 Pennsylvania Farm Show. Photo courtesy of Bill Troxel.

In 1989, the position turned into a full-time job with the creation of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program.

“Over the next 35 years, Bill’s dedication to PVGA grew and strengthened the organization and has made the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference the premier growers convention in the Eastern U.S.,” Pete Flynn, PVGA president, said when introducing Troxell at the awards banquet. “To honor Bill for his 40 years of dedication, we thought we would give him a Life Membership Award — so he can never leave, kind of like Hotel California.”

Although Troxell officially retired in December, it wasn’t surprising that he was busy helping throughout the convention.

The association also awarded the Life Membership Award to Steve Sample, who bought a 37-acre specialty crop farm in Duncannon with his wife in the late 1970s. With no experience, they started farming at Sample’s Vegetable Farm in 1978 and built a roadside market in 1980; it’s still in use. He joined the PVGA and began attending the annual convention, field days and the Pennsylvania Farm Show to learn about farming.

Pete Flynn, (from left), president of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association, with Steve Sample, honoree at the association’s annual banquet, and his wife, Darlene. Photo courtesy of PVGA.

At the time, Sample maintained his job with the railroad, at Conrail and Amtrak, retiring in 2011. Now he devotes all of his time at the farm.

Flynn said Sample has been instrumental in setting up and tearing down the association’s booths at the Pennsylvania Farm Show and volunteering at the booth every year.

Extension honors

The association also bestowed Distinguished Service Awards posthumously to Sinclair Adam, who died in April 2023, and Thomas Ford, who died in December 2023.

Adam, a Penn State floricultural Extension educator for nine years and director of the Penn State Flower Trials at Landisville, spearheaded efforts to help plan greenhouse ornamental sessions at the convention. Flynn said his legacy can be seen during the flower trials.

Ford was a commercial horticulture educator for 41 years, including the last 31 years at Pennsylvania State University. Ford also had been county Extension directors in Maryland and North Carolina. He assisted growers in transitioning to high-value horticultural crops and worked with Central Pennsylvania’s Amish and Mennonite growers, according to Flynn.

The association also recognized the PVGA Young Grower Andrew Gadomski, who, with his wife, operates Kim and Andrew’s Farm Market. The farm stand opened in 2016 with pumpkins and has expanded to include a variety of vegetables.

— Chris Koger, managing editor 



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