Jan 31, 2024Pennsylvania recognizes specialty crop growers
Pennsylvania fruit and vegetable groups honored notable leaders in their industries at the Annual Fruit & Vegetable Growers Banquet.
The event was on the first day of the Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable Convention, Jan. 30-Feb. 1, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) recognized longtime executive director Bill Troxell, whose 40-year career at the association began in 1983. Although Troxell officially retired in December, it wasn’t surprising to association members that he was busy in a familiar role at the convention registration desk the first morning of the convention.
When he introduced Troxell, association first vice president Pete Flynn noted Troxell’s 40 years of service to the group, with the last 35 years as its executive director.
“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.,” Flynn said. “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.”
The association also awarded a lifetime membership 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 in 1978 and built a farm stand in 1980. He joined the PVGA and began attending the annual convention, field days and the Pennsylvania Farm Show to learn about farming.
Flynn said Sample of Sample’s Vegetable Farm was instrumental in setting up and tearing down the association’s booths at the Pennsylvania Farm Show every year and volunteering his time to help people stopping by the booth.
The association also bestowed Distinguished Service Awards posthumously to Sinclair Adam, who died in April 2023, and Thomas Ford, who died in December.
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.
Andrew Schwalm, the outgoing president of the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania, introduced the group’s new president Corey McCleaf, who started his two-year term during the annual convention.
Schwalm introduced Chris Baugher of Adams County Nursery Inc. as the SHAP 2023 Outstanding Grower, an award for outstanding contributions to the tree fruit industry and the association.
The annual cider award competition was Jan. 30.
The first place winner is Metrick’s Harvest View Farm, Butler, Pennsylvania. Second place is Scholl Orchards, Bethlehem. Third place is Hands on the Earth Orchards, Lititz.