Hionis Proves Vibrant Spot for
EPC Leadership Class Tour and Seminar

Hionis Greenhouses in Whitehouse Station, NJ, provided another learning experience for the third Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class. The group toured the operation’s greenhouse facilities on October 5th and benefited from another seminar on leadership by John Eric Jacobsen, a trainer with the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education.

Tim Hionis, co-owner of Hionis, summarized the operation’s three-decade history, started by Hionis’ father and mother (Spiro and Angie) and now run by him and his three brothers (Pete, Spiro and Gerry). “My parents started with a one-acre greenhouse in 1985,” he said. “We have now grown to two locations with a total of 15 acres under cover, producing a wide variety of products year round.”

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7th Annual Joe DeLorenzo Family Apple Picking

On Saturday, October 2nd, over 100 people (including EPC members, their families, and the family of Joe DeLorenzo) enjoyed a beautiful morning at Melick Farm in Oldwick, NJ, for the 7th Annual Joe DeLorenzo Family Event. Cider and doughnuts kicked off the morning and were followed by tractor rides that took families up to the orchard to pick apples. After returning from the orchard, everyone enjoyed fresh grilled corn on the cob, hotdogs, and popcorn.

The event was named in honor of long-time board member and two-time president of the council, Joe DeLorenzo, who died in November 2014. “Joe was all about family, and this event is an opportunity for EPC families to remember Joe and spend time together out on a farm”, said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, executive director of the EPC.

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EPC’s Annual Tailgate back at MetLife Stadium!

Sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Litehouse, Inc., the Eastern Produce Council was thrilled to be back at MetLife Stadium to host its Annual Tailgate Event on Tuesday, September 21st in East Rutherford, NJ.

Those arriving early, enjoyed a tour of the stadium that included the Press Box and Museum, the Commissioner’s Lounge, and the field. Following a Cocktail Hour featuring Idaho Potato and Litehouse fare, EPC Vice President, Kelly Davis, introduced the evening’s sponsors, Camille Balfanz, Director, Brand Management for Litehouse, Inc. and Ross Johnson, Director Category Management of the Idaho Potato Commission. Both introduced their staff in attendance, remarked on the importance of the Metro NY marketplace to their businesses, and handed over the night to guest speaker, Harry Carson.

Harry is a former American football inside linebacker who played his entire professional career for the New York Giants and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Harry had a different approach to his presentation. He said that since he had the opportunity to talk to many of the EPC members during the Cocktail Hour, he was going to treat his time with the group like a Phil Donahue Talk Show and walk throughout the group answering their questions, football related or not.

Following Harry’s engaging time with the audience, the sponsors raffled off footballs signed by Harry, as well as, Idaho Potato Trucks and Spudy Buddies, and Litehouse Gift Bowls.

The crowd of loyal EPC members, happy to be gathered again at MetLife Stadium, thoroughly enjoyed the night.

Pictured from left to right are: Susan McAleavey Sarlund of EPC, Mike Krage of Idaho Potato Commission, Harry Carson, Maren Szollar of Litehouse, Ross Johnson and Seth Pemsler of Idaho Potato Commission, Camille Balfanz and Ed Klein of Litehouse and Kelly Davis of Allegiance Retail Services and EPC Vice President.

EPC Members who joined the tour prior to the Cocktail Hour saw many exciting areas around MetLife, including a visit to the field.

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EPC Leadership Class Tours
Rutgers Snyder Research Farm

The third Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class toured the Clifford E. and Melda C. Snyder Research and Extension Farm at Rutgers University located near Pittstown, NJ, on September 15, 2021. The group began the day touring the 400-acre farm. “The farm provides a variety of valuable research on soil, climate conditions, pest control and crop variety,” explained Peter Nitzsche, County Extension Department Head. “We have a mixture of projects underway including research on organic practices and weed control in sustainable organic plots to disease resistance in basil through breeding, to looking at new crop alternatives for our growers.” Participants had the opportunity to get their hands dirty by picking apples and tomatoes from the farm. “The dual-medium learning environment of our program is crucial to our goal of developing leaders,” said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC Executive Director. “It is invaluable for them to gain first-hand experience and knowledge from the field as well as the classroom. The Rutgers farm provided an opportune educational venue.” In the afternoon, the class participated in an interactive seminar on Strategies for Coaching and Team Building given by John Eric Jacobsen, a trainer with the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education. Jacobsen pointed out that the single largest factor in an organization’s long-term success is the leaders. The class discussed team nourishing and strengthening strategies as well as morale killers.

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Eastern Produce Council Hosts
46th Annual Golf Outing

It was a great day on the links for the Eastern Produce Council who hosted its 46th Annual Sal Zacchia, Phil LaRocca and Pete Piastra Memorial Golf Outing at Fox Hollow Golf Club in Branchburg, NJ on Saturday, June12th.

The winning team, with a score of 53, was Four Seasons’ Pat Powers, Wes Jones, Pat Campellone, and Jake Barwell. The second place team, with a score of 60 was Brendan Burns and Doug Johnson of Bolthouse Farms and Matt Bernat of Curation Foods.

The Longest Drive winners were Wes Jones and Dylan Dembeck and the Closest to the Pin winners were Samer Rahman, Tony Abbatemarco, Ira Greenstein, and Derek Bender. James Sears and Tony Abbatemarco split the Putting Contest Prize.

Following golf, participants enjoyed lunch and cocktails, a 50/50 raffle, Prize Raffle, and Grand Prize Drawing for a new set of Golf clubs and Bag.

EPC Executive Director, Susan McAleavey Sarlund, thanked the attendees, the Golf Committee (Alexa Conciatori, Kelly Davis, Anthony Latona, Rich Martin, Jim Mulcahy, Al Murray, Gary Roselli, Marianne Santo, and Tracy Simmonds), and all sponsors including Gold Sponsors Dole and Giorgio, and Bronze Sponsors A&J Produce, American Blueberries, Fruitco, Hapco Farms, Lancaster Foods, and Robinson Fresh.

Next on the calendar for the Eastern Produce Council is the Idaho Potato Commission and Litehouse Foods sponsored Tailgate at MetLife Stadium on Tuesday, September 21st. The Guest Speaker will be Harry Carson, NFL Hall of Famer and former New York Giant.

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NJDA Hosts Annual BBQ at Demarest Farm
EPC/Nolan Family Foundation Scholarship Awarded

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture hosted the EPC's Annual BBQ at Demarest Farm in Hillsdale, NJ, on Tuesday, May 25th. It was a beautiful spring night for NJDA staff, New Jersey farmers, and EPC members to gather again at the farm; everyone was thrilled to be together again!

Doug Fisher, New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture, was the moderator for the state's presentation which included comments from John Banscher of the NJ Vegetable Growers Assn., Annie Pape of Frank Donio Inc. and the NJ Blueberry Council, and Lew DeEugenio of the NJ Peach Council.

Following the Crop updates, EPC’s Executive Director. Susan McAleavey Sarlund, announced the EPC’s Slate of Officers for 2021/2022. Susan thanked Floyd Avillo and John Vasapoli who were stepping down after years of service to the council and welcomed new Officers Rich Martin and Anthony Latona.

On behalf of the Nolan Family Foundation and Theresa Nolan, Susan announced the winner of this year’s $5,000 Annual EPC/Nolan Family Foundation Scholarship to Andi Summer Eklund, daughter of EPC member and USDA State Statistician, Bruce Eklund. Andi will be attending University of Pittsburgh this fall. This marks the 7th year the EPC offered the scholarship together with Theresa and her Family Foundation and what makes this scholarship unique is that it is based solely on the essay that applicants write about an ethical situation they were faced with and how they responded. All essays are reviewed by the Nolan Family Foundation, not the Eastern Produce Council.

Pictured from left to right are: Susan McAleavey Sarlund, EPC Executive Director, Joe Atchison III, Director of NJDA Division of Marketing and Development, Kelly Davis, EPC Vice President and Director of Produce and Floral at Allegiance Retail Services, Marianne Santo, EPC President and Senior Category Manager Produce and Floral at Wakefern Food Corp., and Doug Fisher, New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture.

Pictured from left to right are: Susan McAleavey Sarlund, Marianne Santo, Bruce Eklund, Andi Summer Eklund, Josie Eklund, and Doug Fischer.

Pictured from left to right are: EPC Board Members Al Murray, Kelly Davis, Rich Martin, Steve Oroszlany, George Moskal, Marc Goldman, Dan Schneider, Theresa Lowden, Tracy Simmonds, Marianne Santo, and Susan McAleavey Sarlund.

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EPC Leadership Class Tours Philadelphia Market and
Port Facilities

The third Eastern Produce Council (EPC) Leadership Class experienced key aspects of the produce logistics and distribution system with a tour of the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM) and Holt Logistics on May 11, 2021. The group started the day at PWPM with a presentation on the market’s history, evolution and current technology from John Vena of John Vena Inc., a former member of the PWPM Board of Directors and current “unofficial historian.” Vena explained how the PWPM traces its roots back to the days of William Penn and noted the current modern facility will celebrate its 10th anniversary this June. Participants had the opportunity to walk the fully enclosed and refrigerated concourse and meet with various market merchants. In the afternoon, the class traveled to the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City, NJ, where they were treated to lunch and a presentation on the Philadelphia port facilities by Leo Holt, President of Holt Logistics Corp, and Sander “Sandy” Daniel, senior Tropical Marketing Manager. Daniel escorted the participants on a visit to some areas of the Gloucester City port including a tour of the DelMonte facility given by John McCann, Vice President Northeast Region for Del Monte Fresh Produce.

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South Carolina Department of Agriculture
Hosts April Meeting

On Tuesday, April 27th, the Eastern Produce Council hosted its first event of 2021 with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture on a beautiful spring night at TopGolf in Edison, NJ. This marked the Department’s 49th year sponsoring an EPC Dinner, and it is sure to be remembered!

South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Hugh Weathers, members of his staff, and representatives from the SC Peach, Watermelon and Specialty Crop councils addressed the council and mingled with the group throughout the night. “People were happy to be out, together with their colleagues from the produce industry. It was a fun event and showed us that people are ready to socialize again; it was great to see,” said Susan McAleavey Sarlund, Executive Director of the EPC.

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Pictured above L to R: Chris Yonce, SC Peach Council President, Weatherly Thomas of SC Specialty Crop Growers Assoc., Susan McAleavey, EPC Executive Director, Stevie Stills of SC Watermelon Assoc., Hugh Weathers, SC Commissioner of Agriculture, Katie Pfeiffer, SCDA Mkt. Dev. Coordinator, Kelly Davis of Allegiance Retail Svcs and EPC VP, Michelle Cantey of SCDA, Marianne Santo of Wakefern Food Corp and EPC President, Tracy Simmonds of Affinity Sales and EPC Board Member, Jack Schuler, SCDA Economic Dev. Director, and Clint Leach, SCDA Asst. Commissioner.

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The 2021 EPC Leadership Class

The EPC proudly announces the 20 up-and-coming produce professionals chosen for its 2021 Leadership Class, a professional development experience for those with less than 10 years of experience in the industry. The program provides the opportunity for those selected to gain valuable knowledge from both classroom and field experience.

Schedule of Events

April 2020 - Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) Seminar - COMPLETED.

May 11th - Visit to Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market (PWPM) in Philadelphia, PA and Holt Cargo Systems at the Port of Gloucester, NJ.

June 8th - Classroom/Field Experience at Hionis Greenhouses in Whitehouse Station, NJ.

September 14th - Classroom/Field Experience at Rutgers’ Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown, NJ.

Week of December 13th - Attend Seminar and Cocktail Reception at New York Produce Show. Certificates of Completion will be presented at the Show’s Keynote Breakfast.





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