Honors abound for two men devoted to vegetable production in Pa.

By ANDY ANDREWS

HERSHEY, Pa. — Nobody thought of Herbert Pollock as simply a seed salesman.

In fact, when he made his rounds in many parts of western Pennsylvania, the longtime Agway (formerly Eastern States) sales representative was considered a crop consultant. Farmers would seek him out for his advice on the best ways to plant, care for, and manage the harvest on a variety of vegetable and other crops.

While Herbert’s younger brother assumed management of the family’s dairy and potato farm in Indiana, Pa., Herbert chose another direction. Pollock put his energies and talents toward finding ways to improve the bounty of growers throughout western Pennsylvania. His devotion to his trade had a major impact on the livelihood of many farmers.

For his work, Pollock was honored Feb. 1 with a lifetime achievement and membership award by the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA) at the annual Fruit and Vegetable Growers Banquet at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa.

Accepting award

Herbert’s son, Bob, accepted the award on behalf of his father.

“Dad sold lots of things,” said Pollock. “He worked with the service end of it, more like a crop consultant.”

Farmers would call upon Pollock’s advice regarding insect and disease pressure and what strategies — and what seeds — could best be productive.

“It’s what Agway did,” said Bob Pollock. “They supported the grower and wanted the people who were sold the seed and other materials to do well.”

Retirement

In 1990, Herbert Pollock retired after 34 years with the company, but continued to work as an independent crop consultant with larger growers. He served for almost a decade as director of PVGA in the 1990s.

Since 1975, Pollock Strawberries Farm has been operating with the help of the extended Pollock family, caring for about four acres of land.

Annual award. The association also presented the PVGA Annual Award to Dr. Mike Orzolek, vegetable crop specialist at Penn State.

Orzolek earned a doctorate in horticulture at the University of Maryland and served as extension vegetable specialist with the University of Delaware. In 1981, he joined Penn State and then moved up the academic ranks to his present position as professor of horticulture at Penn State.

Plastics

Orzolek has been heavily involved with the use of plastics in horticultural crop production for many years, with his latest efforts being in the use of plastics in high tunnels and recently taking to moving the high tunnels around. He has worked with all phases of the plasticulture system and even had Martha Stewart come down and do a piece on colored mulches for designer fields, said King.

Orzolek has worked on and supported the Pennsylvania Growers Association and the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference since he arrived at Penn State.

Grower award. Also at the banquet, Brad Hollabaugh, business manager at Hollabaugh Brothers Inc. Fruit Farm and Market, Biglerville, Pa., was presented with the 2010 Outstanding Grower Award. Wife Kay is retail market manager for the market.

Firsts

The banquet also marked a number of “firsts.” That included the presence, for his first public ag appearance, of the new Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, George Greig. Also for the first time ever, the state’s lieutenant governor, Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley, appeared at the awards banquet.

Cawley said every 1 in 7 jobs in Pennsylvania is either directly or indirectly associated with agriculture. That should demand the attention of every public official in the state, said Cawley, and certainly “has the attention of the governor and lieutenant governor.”

Cawley noted Pennsylvania has seen the attention on ag shrink and funding cut considerably, while the Department of Public Welfare grew from a funding level of $2 billion to $8.5 billion.

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