A new year brings the chance to make changes, plan ahead and reflect with New Year’s resolutions – especially a year like we just had. Joe Burnham of Burnham Orchards is doing just that.
Fresh Forward: What changes, if any, are you looking forward to in 2021? Fresh Forward sat down with Joe Burnham to chat about 2021 and what’s on tap for the year.
Joe Burnham: We are looking forward to the upcoming apple season to see what it brings to us. We think there will be enough chill hours to have a fruitful year, hopefully there won’t be a late frost like last year. We faced many challenges last year with many unknowns. It actually ended up being a great year. People were coming out to the farm more than normal as there was a change in focus to buying local and knowing where their food was coming from. Fresh Forward helped us navigate through some unknowns like packaging procurement for a changing retail environment and finding new customers.
Fresh Forward: Anything new happening agriculturally?
Joe Burnham: We are looking forward to our newest apple variety, Ludacrisp, producing more apples in the coming year so that we can spread the word about this exciting new apple variety with the tropical taste. We also plan on expanding our blackberry production with some newer varieties that have an even sweeter berry than what we are already growing.
Fresh Forward: Any New Year’s resolutions for your farm? Challenges you will address?
Joe Burnham: We challenge ourselves every year on how to do things better, be more efficient, and provide the best quality fruit that we can. A concerted effort to improve nutrition for our trees and berry plants will be a greater focus this year.
Fresh Forward: How have things been with the pandemic? Has it caused any pivots or changes? What will things look like in 2021?
Joe Burnham: This year, although challenging, has been one of our better years overall. Of course, adjustments had to be made and there was plenty of uncertainty but we were able to successfully keep our staff safe and healthy and deliver the Fresh Forward brand to many new households.
Also, a positive twist from COVID is the farm-to-families program. It helped supply families in inner city Cleveland, New York and Houston with necessary food, while also creating jobs and keeping current staff employed. It was the light in a dark tunnel, being able to provide food for families since the start of the pandemic.
Fresh Forward: What are you most excited about for 2021?
Joe Burnham: We are looking forward to better spring weather this year. Last year we had some damage from cold temperatures in early May. We learned much about our packinghouse safety requirements and will be able to implement more measures to keep our crew safe and productive. Through Fresh Forward, we are actively engaging our material suppliers to develop new consumer facing packaging for our apples, peaches, blackberries, vegetables and pumpkins. As it goes sometimes, we have our fingers crossed.
The co-op is extremely important to the viability of our farm. We grow a lot of apples and don’t have the manpower to try and sell all of them ourselves. By working with all the other growers in the co-op, we are able to supply large food retailers and the relationships we have with all the other growers working together makes it possible.
We are also looking forward to continuing to feed the community and families – helping them keep food on the table. We also are looking to create year-round jobs in Berlin Heights.
At Fresh Forward, feeding families is our passion. We work with local farmers to get the best, and freshest, produce on your family’s table. Ask your favorite grocery store, farm stand or produce market to carry Fresh Forward products. Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier?
Learn more about the Fresh Forward mission here.