Red Tomato - Eco Apple Working Group
Initially funded in 2006, this working group has united university researchers and extension educators with producers of Eco Apples, a trademarked product of the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Red Tomato. A key difference between Eco Apple growers and conventional growers is that they don't use organophosphates on fruit. Apples are sold in customized totes that emphasize how fresh and local the produce is. The working group has refined protocols and advised on marketing strategies, and their work has helped to boost the market for IPM-grown apples: in 2008 Eco Apple's sales were $1.9 million (87,000 cases), up from 2005 figures of $400,000 (18,000 cases). In 2008 Eco Apple received a minigrant from our Center (led by Susan Futrell) to create a marketing video.
Annual spring meetings with seasoned growers and new prospects keep this working group at the growing edge of IPM products. The grower meetings focus on marketing issues and expansion into such crops as tomatoes, peaches, and sweet corn.