Eco Apple is an ecological certification program in the Northeast. ( Screenshot and graphic by Amy Sowder )

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A network of Northeast farmers is marking 15 years of the Eco Apple program.

Twelve orchards from six states have earned certification for the 2020 season; six are also certified for stone fruit, including peaches and cherries, according to a news release.

The Eco Apple and Eco Stone Fruit program is a third-party growing and certification program, a partnership between farmers and science advisors to advance environmentally responsible growing practices for tree fruit in the Northeast. 

The IPM Institute of North America and the nonprofit Red Tomato organization helped launched the program in 2005 and have certified 30 orchards, according to the release. The groups audit and re-certify growing operations annually.

Eco-certified orchards use bio-intensive practices that support pollinator health, minimize risk to humans and wildlife, and nurture a healthy environment, according to the release. 

The orchards supply large retailers, as well as attract thousands of you-pick visitors during harvest. 

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