The third Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class toured the Clifford E. and Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm at Rutgers University near Pittstown, NJ, on September 15th. The 400-acre farm initiates and disseminates research applicable to the production of produce and other crops.
The day began with a tour of the farm’s various test plots. “The farm provides a variety of valuable research on soil, climate conditions, pest control and crop variety,” explained Peter Nitzsche, county extension department head. “We have a mixture of projects underway including research on organic practices and weed control in sustainable organic plots to disease resistance in basil through breeding, to looking at new crop alternatives for our growers.”
The EPC Leadership Class toured the Clifford E. and Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm at Rutgers University, a 400-acre farm initiating and disseminating research applicable to the production of produce and other crops.
Participants could get their hands dirty by picking apples and tomatoes from the farm. “The dual-medium learning environment of our program is crucial to our goal of developing leaders,” said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC executive director.
Megan Muehlbauer with the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station peaked the group’s interest by showing hazelnut tree trials currently underway. “Most of the U.S. hazelnut demand is met by overseas suppliers,” she said. “There is production in the Northwest U.S. but little to none on the East Coast. Our goal is to investigate the feasibility of establishing some type of hazelnut industry in New Jersey and the Northeast.”
The class also participated in an interactive seminar on Strategies for Coaching and Team Building given by John Eric Jacobsen, a trainer with the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education. Jacobsen pointed out that the single largest factor in an organization’s long-term success is its leaders. The class discussed team nourishing and strengthening strategies as well as morale killers.
Along with touring the farm's test plots, the group picked apples and tomatoes as part of the dual-medium learning environment.
The program chooses up to 20 up-and-coming produce professionals for each Leadership Class, a professional development experience for those with less than 10 years of experience in the industry.
Participants selected for this year’s program include Rich Arduini of FreshPro Food Distributors; Kevin Carroll of Wonderful Citrus; Frank Ciammaruconi of Wakefern Food Corp.; Dylan Dembeck of Minkus Family Farms; Phu Din of FreshPro Food Distributors; Rachel Fabrizio of Four Seasons Produce; Michael Harwood of New York Apple Sales; Andrew Hernandez of LGS Specialty Sales; Brian Kenny of Wakefern Food Corp.; Justin Kerner of Ballard Spahr LLP; Mattie Leid of Hess Brothers Fruit Co.; Michael Paolino of Wakefern Food Corp.; Annie Pape of Frank Donio Inc.; Gabrielle Procacci of Procacci Brothers Sales Corp.; and Kelsey Rose of John Vena Inc.