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Enhancing the Economic Viability of the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt

Posted: November 30, 2010

Agriculture plays an important role in future efforts to build on the South Mountain’s assets and sense of place.
Bicky Redman, Adams County Department of Environmental Services

As many growers may recall, Kim Williams, Coordinator for the South Mountain Conservation Landscape Initiative (CLI) attended a fruit grower educational meeting in February to present information regarding the CLI and its potential for the Fruit Belt. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has been supporting this effort and clearly recognizes the important role agriculture plays in future efforts to build on the South Mountain’s assets and sense of place.

In early April of this year, a group of individuals representing the fruit industry, tourism, economic development, agriculture, government and conservation attended a "Balancing Nature and Commerce" workshop for the CLI. This group discussed ways to enhance the economic viability of the Pennsylvania Fruit Belt, while calling attention to the unique identity of South Mountain. And it is this unique identity that we are thinking could ―brand‖ our area, promote the Fruit Belt, attract visitors and profit our community. The group formulated a tentative timeline for working toward this goal that includes further broadening our stakeholders beginning in 2011, while also searching for funding to implement a South Mountain ―brand.‖ We anticipate working closely with Pennsylvania fruit growers, Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and other partners to develop the "brand."

One of our current partners, Arendtsville Borough, offered to become a ―Gateway‖ community for the CLI effort and expressed a desire to implement an interpretive project as part of its efforts to develop a community park at a highly visible location at the corner of Rt. 234 and the Cashtown Road. Arendtsville applied for a South Mountain mini-grant this summer and was recently informed of a grant award. Part of the proposed interpretive project for Arentdsville will focus on the importance of the fruit industry and a community Fruit Belt ―branding‖ sign will also be developed. Formal dedication of the project is slated for November 2011.

We need the help of Pennsylvania fruit growers to make this a success and ask that you please consider joining the group in working on this project to begin at a kick-off meeting in January. To obtain more information or to join the group, please contact Emma Lower, Boyer Nurseries & Orchards at 677- 8558 or at emma.boyernurseries@gmail.com or Bicky Redman, Adams County Environmental Services at 337-9827 or at bredman@adamscounty.us. We look forward to your participation