Sunrise Orchards

Growing Practices

We are passionate about growing apples.  Our mission is to grow the amazing! apple, one which puts a proclamation into the eater’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth.  We are committed to the quality of our fruit, integrated pest management (IPM), continually educating ourselves about growing methods that have less impact on the environment, our employees and our responsibility to the community as producers of food.  We are part of a group of growers from around the New England region who adhere to strict growing practices that emphasize the health of our soils, waterways and workers, and encourages beneficial insect species in the control of pests.  The program we follow is called the Eco-Apple protocol and it was developed by Red Tomato, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to connect farmers and consumers through marketing, trade and education, and through a passionate belief that a family-farm, locally-based, ecological, fair trade food system is the way to a better tomato” (or a better apple).  We began working with Red Tomato, 6 other apple growers in the Northeast region and scientists from Cornell University and the University of Massachusetts in 2000 to develop and implement a program that not only involved removing the most toxic chemicals from our growing, but also involved research into ecological growing practices that could lower the frequency of application of the chemicals we did use.

When we say we “adhere to strict growing practices” or “integrated pest management (IPM)”, what does that really mean?  Growing apples that are acceptable to consumers is a difficult job.  For the most part, people want a blemish free fruit that has superior sweetness, good size and color and is grown with the fewest “inputs”.  There are many fungi and insects that prey on our apples and there are many things we can do to lessen the likelihood that any of these things will take hold in our orchard.  Sometimes we must treat the orchard with a chemical because we have exhausted all other options.  But before we do that there are many steps to take.  For example, in the case of the various insect pests that live in our orchard, we monitor their populations and take specific counts on many traps to determine if the pressure from a particular pest is high enough to warrant treatment, and then if we do decide populations are too high, we only use chemicals that are not detrimental to our beneficial insect species.  We also try to eliminate hosts in the form of wild fruit trees in our hedgerows in an effort to keep pest populations down.  In the case of fungi, such as apple scab, we practice sanitation of our orchard, which means mowing the leaves that have fallen after harvest to chop up the scab spores that are on the dead leaves, and pruning the trees all winter to encourage air flow, light and healthy growth.  We also closely monitor precipitation and temperature during the growing season to determine if a fungus infection period has occurred.  If it is too cold or very dry, spores won’t be released and we do not need to treat.  Our way of growing is really a philosophy that involves gathering information about our trees, the insects and disease that live in the trees and how the weather interacts with these things.  Every growing season is different, and although there are many practices involved in IPM, it is not just a list of approved practices.  Rather, a farm that follows IPM agrees to treat every season as a new opportunity to research the biology that exists on the land and how it interacts with climate change, distinct weather events and chemical use. 

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The land

Our farm is divided up into "blocks" that range from 5 to 18 acres.  Their names reflect the geographic features of the land.  

  • Front Field
  • Quanset
  • North Field
  • Nine Block
  • Airport
  • Horseshoe
  • Sperry
  • Knoll
  • Pond Field
  • West Field
  • Corn Field
  • Elmwood
  • Wheat Field
  • Oak Field
  • New South
  • Old South
  • Trellis 


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Sunrise Orchards


Eco Apples

Copyright © Sunrise Orchards. All Rights Reserved.