The Rhode Island Fruit Growers’ Association (RIFGA) honored Extension Fruit Specialist Heather Faubert at the University of Rhode Island (URI) for her Integrated Pest Management (IPM) work with fruit growers. Sandie Barden, co-owner of Barden Family Orchard, presented Faubert with an award and a lifetime membership to the RIFGA. The organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Faubert has been working with URI and fruit growers on pest control since 1982. She routinely travels the state, setting up and monitoring pest traps. Faubert expands grower’s knowledge of apple and other fruit diseases and teaches insect biology. Her greatest success has been helping reduce orchard chemical use by 30 percent in the past 30 years.
Rhode Island fruit growers shared stories of how Faubert offered strategies for coping with apple scab, European Red Mite, winter moth and other problems. These diseases and pests can cause extensive crop damage if not fully controlled at the right time. Faubert’s guidance translates directly to growers’ crop quality, crop volume and the farm’s bottom line.
Barden reminisced about Faubert recording pest messages on an old answering machine before the internet, email and podcasts. Messages would list degree-days, when an insect was going to hatch and how many apple scab ascospores had been released. Barden paraphrased Faubert, “With no rain in sight you may be able to save a spray for apple scab over the next week.”
In recent years, Faubert’s involvement with the RIFGA went beyond pest control. She became an invaluable leader in the organization, providing initiative, organizational skills and unending enthusiasm. Faubert works closely with the RIFGA’s executive board and the Massachusetts Fruit Growers’ Association, arranging regular Twilight Meetings at member farms and providing up-to-date information on many aspects of fruit growing. She oversaw web development and now manages the RIFGA website.
Together with RIFGA President Kerri Stenovitch, Faubert helped develop the successful RI Farm Scavenger Hunt program. The winner of the 2012 Scavenger Hunt’s grand prize was drawn by Governor Chafee at Rhode Island Agriculture Day.
Faubert studied the oldest Rhode Island fruit growers’ records, gathering artifacts for a display at the Museum of Work and Culture. She inadvertently rescued these historic records from a fire when the building that housed them burned to the ground.
Faubert also planted the seed for a documentary on Rhode Island Orchards called Vanishing Orchards. Learn more about the film at vanishingorchards.com or Vanishing Orchard’s Facebook page. The film includes video footage of current and past growers and tracks the enormous changes in this industry and debuted at the Jane Pickens Theater in Newport, RI on May 23, 2013.
Barden finished her presentation with a quote from Kristen Castrataro, formerly of URI Extension. “It is for her genuine love of Rhode Island’s Fruit Growers, her selfless dedication to the work of our Association and her commitment to our technical development as agrarians that we bestow on Heather Faubert the first ever title of Honorary Lifelong Member of the Rhode Island Fruit Growers’ Association. With it, we extend our love and appreciation.”