Organic Network Announces Organic Orchard and Value-Added Tours June 27-28

Mineral Point, WI (May 28, 2008) – The Midwest Organic Tree Fruit Growers Network announces its first, two-day event for all tree fruit growers at Hoch Orchard and Gardens on June 27 and 28 in La Crescent, Minnesota. While most field days focus on orchard production, this unique event starts Friday afternoon with a tour of Hoch Orchard’s new fruit processing facility and speakers on markets and pricing for fresh apples and value-added products. The Friday afternoon event will be followed by an on-farm dinner that chef Monique Hooker, author of “Cooking with the Seasons”, will help organize. Saturday’s focus will be in the orchard on organic apple production. Chef Hooker is also organizing Saturday’s lunch to feature local and organic foods.
Harry Hoch of Hoch Orchard has scheduled nearly a dozen guest speakers over the two days to help him cover a diversity of topics important to ecologically minded fruit growers.
Steve Ela of Ela Family Farms in Hotchkiss, Colorado, will speak Saturday on soils, apple thinning, and codling moth control. Steve produces organic apples, peaches and pears as well as jams, fruit butters, juice, and more. Steve is president of the Organic Farming Research Foundation…

Other speakers and topics include Jim Koan, of Al-Mar Orchard, Flushing, MI, and maker of JK’s Scrumpy, on draft cider production and on organic apple thinning; Mark Shepherd of Forest Ag Products, Viola, WI, on draft ciders; David Sliwa of Sliwa Meadow Farm, Decorah, IA, along with Mr. Shepherd on renewable energy systems for on-farm processing facilities; Tom Rosenfeld of Earth First Farms, Berrien Center, MI, on the Network’s new grower-based, apple price information-sharing system; Heather Hilleren of Greenleaf Market on two new mechanisms for farmers to use to direct market products to individual consumers or institutions; John Aue of Threshold IPM Services on insect pest and disease monitoring; Maury Wills of Wills Family Farm, Adel, IA, on deer fencing; Dan Kelly of Blue Heron Orchard, Canton, MO, on apple thinning, and Monique Hooker, chef, author and teacher, on how growers can increase sales to restaurants. Ms. Hooker will also provide a cooking demonstration.
Advance registration is required by June 19. Late registration fees will apply if space permits. One can register for one, two, or all three options.
– Friday from 1:30 to 5:30 on fruit processing facilities, product options, pricing and marketing at $10 per person.
– Friday’s on-farm dinner at 6 PM at $20 per person.
– Saturday’s organic apple production tour and discussions, including lunch, from 9AM to 4 PM for $20 per person.
The registration form is available at, or by contacting Deirdre at or 608-967-2362.
This event is made possible by support from the USDA Risk Management Agency and from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Integrated Pest Management Program.
The Network was started in 2004 by growers for the purpose of sharing information and encouraging research to improve organic tree fruit production and marketing in the Midwest, and to represent growers engaged in such.