Three Ohio agriculture groups merge

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COLUMBUS – The Ohio Fruit and Vegetable Growers Congress and the Ohio Direct Agricultural Marketing Association recently honored several people with scholarships, Distinguished Service Awards and recognition for longevity in direct agricultural marketing.
The awards were given out during the congress held in mid-January in Columbus.
Service award. Two brothers, Louis (Bud) Rockwell and Bob Rockwell of Barnesville, Belmont County, were honored with the Distinguished Service Award for providing outstanding leadership and service to Ohio’s fruit industry.
Bud earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Cornell University in 1963, where he lived in the greenhouse to oversee insects for study.
He returned to farming in 1976 after working for Chemagro (Bayer).
He is a former Ohio Fruit Growers Society president and lifelong Grange and Farm Bureau member.
Bob is a graduate of Ohio State University and has a unique background that includes building pigpens in Italy.
He is a member of the Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors, Farm Bureau and was Ohio Fruit Growers Society president in 2000.
He has also served as president of the Ohio Federation Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
Scholarships. The Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers Association named both Ryan Edwards and Anna Leis scholarship winners because of their desire to enter the field of vegetable production.
Edwards, of Union City, Ohio, is a senior at Ohio State University majoring in crop science. He just finished an internship with Pioneer Hi-Bred working on experimental seed plots across the Indiana and Michigan region.
Leis of Germantown, Ohio, is a senior at Ohio State majoring in landscape horticulture and agricultural education.
She is consistently on the dean’s list and has earned numerous leadership awards as a student.
Direct Agricultural Marketing Association recognized Mapleside Farms in Brunswick, Ohio, for longevity and success in selling direct to consumers – individuals, families, restaurants, tour groups and commercial companies.
Mapleside Farms is a destination that offers a gift shop, a rustic country restaurant, shopping in its Apple House, a bakery and an ice cream parlor.
Major merger. At the same congress, members of the Ohio Fruit Growers Society, the Ohio Direct Agricultural Marketing Association and the Ohio Vegetable and Potato Growers Association approved a merger of the three organizations.
The new name, beginning in 2008, is the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA).
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are becoming an increasingly important part of society’s eating habits,” explained Bob Jones Jr., the new organization’s first vice president.
Also during the congress, guest speaker Chuck Mohler, known as “Sweet Corn Charlie,” taught attendees about Israeli farming practices to give them ideas on better ways to use the land and to extend growing seasons.
Mohler, an Indiana farmer, uses high tunnels and grafting techniques to produce sweet corn, watermelon and cantaloupes by the Fourth of July holiday.
Workshops. Workshops at the congress included: disease management and organic crop production; an experienced supervisors hiring workshop; labor and immigration compliance; advanced retail concepts technology; updates on preventing E. coli outbreaks; berries and their role in cancer prevention.

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