April 30, 2012 Visit by HLF Customer Bruce Livingston
Weaver's business model consists of a pick-your- own orchard and farm, an onsite farm market, participation in local farmers markets in Reading and Elverson, Pennsylvania, and fruit and apple cider sales through distributors. HLF is pleased to have their apple cider in stock this week.
The most important crops raised at the Weaver's Orchard are apples (mainly pick-your-own but also for cider), peaches, and cherries. There are 35 varieties of apples grown in the orchard with the most popular being Honey Crisp, Gala, and Fuji. Other crops include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, plums, tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi berries, and pumpkins.
Ed Weaver noted that they work to limit the use of pesticides and practice a system known as Integrated Pest Management. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "IPM uses current information on the life cycles of pests and their interaction with the environment. This information, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to manage pest damage by the most economical means and with the least possible hazard to the environment". Reducing water usage has been another goal of Weaver's Orchard with more use of drip or trickle irrigation (water distribution through tubes running near the roots of trees and plants) and hardly any use of overhead sprinklers. The fertility of their crop land is maintained through a crop rotation system.
Weaver's Orchard employs about 30 people during the busiest times of the year with 15 full time staff in the farm market and orchard. They employ both local and migrant workers, mainly from Mexico. Several of the Mexican workers return to the orchard each year.
I asked Ed Weaver about the trends he sees in agriculture. He noted the growth of interest in buying local foods and an increase in the number of young people going into farming. He said that many farmers are trying to diversify into more kinds of crops in order to enhance income.
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