Our Growing Practices

Red Apple Farm practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and is proud to be a University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Mentor Farm.

IPM is a holistic and sustainable approach to best farming practices. This low spray program focuses on a natural approach to ensure all management decisions are good for the environment, our health, and our future. Keeping our fruit trees healthy, while protecting you and the environment, is our top priority. Healthy trees mean healthy fruit for the next generation!

A Holistic Approach.

Crop Diversification.

In 2019 we planted our first field of sunflowers. Not only are they beautiful and perfect for pick-your-own, they’re also good for honeybees, birds, and pest management!

Sunflowers provide pollen and nectar for the all-important honeybee. Some studies even suggest that bees who pollinate sunflowers are more resistant to disease! Recent research also shows that sunflowers attract pollinators, beneficial insects, and even pest-eating birds! This is a great example of how we can minimize our need to use insecticide while also improving our ecosystem. A win-win!

Farming for the Next Generation.

Green is the new Red! Red Apple Farm is proud to be powered by sun and wind. Our 15 kw turbine and 10 kw solar panels provide green energy to all our farm buildings.

We also use three ponds throughout the farm for irrigation water, and continue to incorporate new technologies as they become available for making the farm more energy efficient. We were recently approved to start using geothermal energy on the farm!

The UMass Fruit program is working collaboratively with apple growers to develop new IPM strategies that could potentially reducing pesticide use while balancing the ecological, social, and economic aspects of farming to move toward sustainability.

Cover crops like sorghum add nutrients to the soil while also providing advantages like attracting beneficial insects.

Another up-and-coming strategy involves grafting trees around the perimeters of the orchard with cultivars that naturally attract pests. Thus, we can eradicate these pests using a small amount of insecticide on these trees only, eliminating the need to spray the trees inside the perimeter.

 In many cases, we can control some of the most damaging insect pests of apples with no spray whatsoever. For example, we use pheromones to interfere with the reproduction of a destructive moth, limiting their population growth, thus preventing damage!