Dawson's Orchards is Picked to Receive Cultivating Change Grant
By Sierra Smith | Photographs from Dawson’s Orchards
Tucked away in rural Enon Valley, Pa., home to just over 300, Dawson’s Orchards continues to grow toward a more sustainable future. Dawson’s began as a fruit and chicken farm back when it opened in 1947, but by the 1960s, they phased the birds out and let the fruit take spotlight. Now, thanks in part to its partnership with Paragon Foods, a PRO*ACT produce distributor, you can find Dawson’s fresh fruit — including apples, peaches, plums, pears, nectarines, and berries — in more than 80 grocery stores in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Recently, Dawson’s received a Cultivating Change grant worth $3,000 from Greener Fields Together, a program that is working on implementing sustainability practices and ensuring produce safety. In order to update old infrastructure and prevent any hazards associated with harvesting and packaging produce, Dawson’s has already spent thousands of dollars, showing a willingness to change and update for a healthier future.
This step forward, along with Dawson’s passion for providing local produce to Western Pennsylvania, shows true dedication to not only food safety, but to the health and safety of our community. “We are constantly looking for ways to go above and beyond the bare minimum to ensure that our food really is clean and safe,” says Stephen Cowher of Dawson’s Orchards. “We recognize the gravity of the potential consequences of a ‘bare minimum’ approach to food safety.”
This grant will allow Dawson’s to begin transitioning from porous wooden harvesting bins, which are difficult to clean and sanitize, to new, easy-to-clean plastic bins. Plus, the plastic bins are lighter, last longer, and are 100 percent recyclable, improving the orchard’s overall safety and sustainability. According to Cowher, “It’s a win-win situation.”
Dawson’s Orchards, dawsonsorchards.com.