The Hort Society also serves as a forum for industry ad hoc committees like the Apple Variety Committee. The members of this committee are vitally interested in the development and promotion of new varieties of apples adapted to NY State. This leads to collaboration with the Apple Breeding Program at the Geneva Experiment Station of Cornell University. The NYSHS is also the leader of an effort for an improved and revitalized Cornell Cooperative Extension Program for all the major fruit regions of the State.
As more of a fruit grower’s income became determined by what happened off the farm, the Hort Society became more involved in “public affairs”. This involves working with government and legislators at both the State and National level. Much of this is done at the State level in collaboration with the New York Farm Bureau. The Hort Society is also one of the leading members of the Council of Agricultural Organizations (CAO), which is an association of 25 New York farm organizations who work together to determine and carry out programs beneficial to NY agriculture. At the national level the NYSHS works in collaboration with the US Apple Association, which represents all the apple growers of the country. It also cooperates with other organizations such as the National Grape Growers Coop., which represents the majority of juice grape growers across the country.
No one knows what the next 150 years will bring for the New York State fruit industry in this fast changing world, but the New York State Horticultural Society stands ready to serve the needs of the industry, whatever they may be.
Three Mission Goals of the Society
One hundred fifty six years ago fruit farmers in New York State collected to organize the New York State Horticultural Society. The year was 1855. The American Civil War was in full force. It would be an entire year later in a small Virginia town, Appomattox, that the war would be completed. In spite of the turbulent times, farmers realized that individually they needed to support a collective effort to accomplish three mission goals of the society.
- Supporting educational opportunities for the members.
- Promoting the industry.
- Representing the industry in matters of public policy.
Today I think it only fitting that we pause and ask ourselves have we lost our way or have the 156 years so changed the face of agriculture that we no longer need the NYSHS? Is the Society holding to these three basic mission statements?
Supporting Educational Opportunities for the Members
Education will never become obsolete. The difference today is that research and technology are advancing so fast, and not only on our farms, that it is difficult to know what to focus upon. In years past, fruit farmers learned century old and tried cultural practices to increase the quality and yields on their farms. Often there were very little operational differences between generations. Today we see shifts in almost every area of fruit production. Orchard designs and varietal selections are reshaping what an orchard looks like.
By supporting research initiatives the NYSHS has helped fund research projects that have helped us increase yields and quality at the same time. Funding for these research programs has helped to define profitable practices. Sometimes equally important, it illustrates poor production trends so we do not have to suffer economic setbacks by learning through costly trial and error. The encouragement of those dedicated to research by the NYSHS cannot be understated. Individually, as farmers, we could not afford to fund these projects. Collectively we have spread the financial costs as we moved ahead. It is often said it takes an organization to get the work done for the individual.
Promoting the Industry
In the late 1950’s progressive NYS fruit farmers worked long hours to organize to form the marketing order that today is primarily responsible for the generic promotion of our apple crop. The NYAA does a fantastic job of keeping apples in front of the consumer and in their diet. We work very closely with the NYAA to promote such programs as nutritional information, school lunch programs and increased awareness of the positive healthy benefits associated with the daily consumption of apples and other fruits.
NYS Horticultural Society