Cornell puts on fruit tour for Spanish-speaking farm employees
Article courtesy of Cornell’s Lake Ontario Fruit Program
GAINES – Over the past five years or so, many fruit farm operations have undergone significant growth. Orchards that used to employ only a handful of people with low-skill horticultural talent now look for more help to meet this demand.
Growers are now searching for horticultural talent to support their recent plantings and new investments. A committed, reliable, skillful Spanish-speaking horticultural team will help growers to fuel potential growth in the next 5 to 10 years, said Mario Miranda Sazo, a fruit specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Lake Ontario Fruit Program.
For this reason the CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program recently organized the first fruit summer tour for Spanish-speaking employees – the first one of this type in the entire Northeast. It was held in Orleans County on Aug. 1.
The five-stop tour was well attended with approximately 105 participants. The majority of farm employees came from Orleans and Niagara farms, and a few from Wayne County. Participants were hosted by a Spanish-speaking employee who is the owner and/or has acquired significant field experience by managing an orchard and/or a nursery operation.
Viliulfo “Vilo” Rosario, an orchard manager and a co-owner of an apple orchard with Kast Farms, talked about his experience dealing with fire blight pressure while pursuing his dream to become a successful apple grower.
Jose Perez of Perez Farms shared his experience with drainage issues, clearing of his new property, deer fence installation, and overall management of his new high-density orchards planted since 2013.
Jose Iniguez of Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport hosted three of the five stops and explained tree nursery production, training, trellis support, mechanical summer pruner, and use of a reflective groundcover fabric to improve light within tree fruit.
Iniguez, considered one of the most talented Spanish-speaking orchard managers in New York today, encouraged participants to work smarter not harder, to be curious, honest, and walk the orchard regularly to look for problems and solve them quickly.
At the end of the tour, a very special and generous group of Orleans fruit growers prepared and served a nice barbeque chicken dinner to all attendees at Lamont Fruit Farm.