Rice Fruit Company, a producer of Eastern apples, has announced the retirement of Lee Showalter, a long-time industry advocate and fruit grower. Showalter has been a pivotal member of the Rice Fruit team for over 13 years.
In 1969, the Showalter Family purchased Five Forks Orchards in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Their son Lee had just graduated from Penn State with a degree in AG Business Management, which was the beginning of Lee Showalter’s career in agriculture. Five Forks specialized in growing apples, fresh stone fruit, and even tomatoes and spinach for processing. As the business grew and evolved, the orchards transitioned to fresh market apples. Lee Showalter’s expertise in fruit was honed and perfected. His dedication and passion were evident as he became an integral part of the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program for 15 years, in addition to serving on the SHAP research committee and as a director on the boards of Knouse Foods Cooperative and the USApple Association.
Showalter worked tirelessly operating his farm and managing his storage and packing operations until he joined Rice Fruit Company in 2010. With an arsenal of orcharding under his belt, he began his next chapter in food safety when programs were in their infancy. He established himself as the bridge to all apple communities near and far and became the go-to person for aiding other growers in establishing their own food safety programs and embracing his role as a grower liaison and peer mentor. In 2015, he was named Apple Person of the Year. His dedication to educating and counseling his colleagues has been a gift to the apple industry. He is proof that any time spent in an orchard is time well spent.
Everyone at Rice Fruit Company and beyond expresses their sincerest thanks to Showalter for his dedication to the apple industry and wishes him the very best in his next adventures.