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Team Award

by Margaret Haining Cowles

This award stems from one cooperative effort in which the marketplace is effectively telling consumers about the good stewardship of New York's vegetable growers. The award winners are four vegetable farm operations and Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. They have worked collectively on a project that identifies IPM-grown agricultural products to the consumer.

This project began in 1995, when Wegmans began to offer IPM-grown, fresh-market sweet corn in one of its stores. This trial was so successful that Wegmans sought to expand in two ways: 1) offer the fresh-market sweet corn in all of its Rochester-area stores, and 2) work with one of its vegetable suppliers, Comstock Michigan Fruit, to provide IPM-grown processed vegetables.

The growers being honored with this team award volunteered many hours of their time to serve on a committee with Wegmans representatives and Cornell folks to set the standards for growing IPM-labeled sweet corn. This committee formulated the "elements of IPM" for sweet corn (a list of protocols for growers to follow), identified areas in which participating growers would need more education on IPM methods, set goals for the project, and established the documentation process by which growers could verify their achievement of the project goals.

Representatives from Comstock Michigan Fruit joined in the process and helped to develop elements for six processed and frozen vegetables to be sold under IPM labels: beets, cabbage for kraut, carrots, corn, peas, and snap beans. Comstock Michigan Fruit, long a proponent of IPM, was honored with an Excellence in IPM Award in 1996.

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.Wegmans

The initiation by Wegmans Food Markets of the program to document and market the use of IPM by their suppliers, led by Bill Pool, its manager of food safety and regulation, will have continuing and far-reaching effects on the practice of IPM by growers in New York and across the United States. Already Wegmans is creating among consumers a greater awareness of the wise use of IPM in agriculture.

Colleen Wegman, category manager for natural foods, has provided leadership within the company to move in the direction of IPM-labeled products. Bill Pool has provided the "hands-on" leadership in relations with Comstock Michigan Fruit, Cornell University, and the growers.

Lynn FishLynn Fish

Lynn Fish grew up on the Shortsville farm he now owns. Over half of the 200 acres of the Fish Farm Market are planted in sweet corn. The remaining acres are planted in a variety of fresh-market vegetables-tomatoes, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds, and 13 varieties of hot peppers. In addition to having sold produce to Wegmans for the past 10 years, Lynn and his wife, his mother, and his sister operate four vegetable stands on the property.

Lynn is not a newcomer when it comes to practicing IPM. The majority of his late corn acreage has been planted in a rye cover crop for the past 10 years, and he uses rotation on all of his fresh-market vegetables besides corn. He has always been interested in learning more about the need to better manage his pesticides. In 1996 Lynn hired a scout to help him monitor for European corn borer.Jim Gray

Kris and Jim Gray

Kris and Jim Gray own and manage Fresh-Ayr Farm Market-over 1,000 acres in Shortsville, New York-in partnership with Kris' father George Ayres and her brother Jeremy Ayres. They began selling vegetables to Wegmans Food Markets in 1990. The Grays have been using IPM practices for the past four or five years. The only change necessitated by their participation in the IPM project with Wegmans was an increase in record keeping-additional documentation of their scouting and pest thresholds.

Doug Mason

Doug Mason is a 6th-generation farmer from Williamson, New York. His family has farmed the same land since 1816. Mason Farms consists of 350 to 400 acres of muck, clay, sand, and upland soils on which Doug grows 30 to 40 different crops.

Doug started using IPM methods 20 years ago with the use of scouting in his fruit crops. He is a member of the Wayne County Pest Management Cooperative, which disseminates information about fruit IPM. Doug has also participated in integrated crop management practices for potatoes and peppers, using many IPM practices. He now hires a private crop consultant to help him with his pest management decisions.

Doug rotates 80 percent of his vegetable crops and sometimes plants his muck in a cover crop to give it a rest. He has been experimenting with the use of plastic covers and drip irrigation on raised beds for the past 10 years, with good results on some crops.

Alan and Jeffrey WernerAlan and Jeffrey Werner

Jeffrey and Alan Werner are brothers who formed a partnership in 1988 to farm 450 acres in Rush, New York. While fresh-market sweet corn is their largest crop, they sell several other fresh-market vegetables. One-third of their acreage is planted in small grains, used mostly for rotation. They also have 30,000 square feet in greenhouses, where they sell bedding plants.

Werner Farms was the "test farm" for Wegmans in the summer of 1995, supplying the first IPM-labeled fresh-market sweet corn to be marketed by Wegmans.

In 1996 Jeffrey and Alan supplied seven Wegmans stores with IPM-grown sweet corn every day during July, August, and September. The Werners use a crop consultant to scout their corn and appreciate his keeping them informed of weather developments as a part of his pest management recommendations.

The Werner brothers were already using several IPM methods as well as integrated crop management methods prior to their involvement in this effort. They use cover crops and rotation, and have scouted for fall armyworm at the silk stage. Sticky cards are used in their greenhouses for pest monitoring. Only one change was necessitated by Jeffrey's and Alan's participation in the IPM project: the addition of scouting for insect egg masses.