The EPC Leadership Program inductees were recognized at the Eastern Produce Council dinner meeting in Hackensack, N.J., Feb. 26. ( By Amy Sowder )

HACKENSACK, N.J. — The Eastern Produce Council’s 2019 kickoff dinner meeting had some special guests.

New members of the EPC Leadership Program visited with members of the industry at the Feb. 26 event.

Lauren Mordasky, operating partner of tomato grower-shipper Vermont Hydroponic Produce LLC, Florence, Vt., drove abuot four hours from her farm to meet almost a dozen of her fellow inductees in the program. The professional development program is for produce professionals with fewer than 10 years of experience in the industry. They’ll go on several field and classroom experiences throughout the year.

“What I’m looking to get out of it, is learning how the entire produce chain works, from grower to university to port. And, of course, the networking,” Mordasky said. “I absolutely love networking.”

The New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York Apple Association and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association sponsored the meeting.

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More than 120 people attended the Eastern Produce Council dinner meeting Feb. 26 in Hackensack, N.J. Left to right: Alisha Albinder of Hudson River Fruit Distributors; Cailin Kowaleski and Cynthia Haskins, both of New York Apple Association; Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms; Karin Reeves of Reeves Farms; Paul Ruszkiewicz of Ruszkiewicz Farms; Mark C. Henry of Henry and Sons Inc.; and Michael Inver of Procacci Bros. (By Amy Sowder)


Cynthia Haskins, president of the apple association, talked about the New York State Grown and Certified marketing program, which has been gathering awareness since it was announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2016 to help simplify labeling claims for the states’ agricultural producers.

“Already, 2,400 growers are participating, representing half a million acres of certified produce,” Haskins said.

Maureen Torrey of Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., expressed the importance of the New York metro marketplace to members of the state vegetable association.

The women also thanked the New York farmers who attended.

Marianne Santo, council president, updated the group on upcoming council events, including the John J. McAleavey Annual Gala, on April 6.