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NSFGA celebrates its sesquicentennial

November 18, 2013  By Dan Woolley

Dela Erith talks at the NSFGA sesquicentennial Dan Woolley

The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association’s 150th anniversary celebration evoked an end-of-an-era feeling. The event was held at Blair House on the Atlantic Food and Horticulture Research Centre campus in Kentville, N.S., this past summer.

The NSFGA used its sesquicentennial celebration to pay special tribute to three people who have many years
of service to the NSFGA and the tree fruit industry.

After 50 years as a provincial tree fruit specialist and a tree fruit scientist, Charles Embree retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada last November.


Bill Craig, a provincial tree fruit specialist for 35 years, will retire early in 2014 from Nova Scotia’s agricultural extension and consulting agency, Perrenia.

Dela Erith also resigned after 15 years as NSFGA’s executive-director.

These three departures represent a collective loss of 100 years of institutional memory, technical expertise and administrative experience to the Nova Scotia tree fruit industry.

Charles Embree
In presenting Embree with an NSFGA thank-you gift and certificate of appreciation, the NSFGA’s Doug Nichols – a former research associate of Embree – noted that during Embree’s 50 years in the tree fruit industry, he wrote 60 peer-reviewed scientific research papers and 125 technical bulletins.

Embree began his career in 1963 with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture as a tree fruit specialist, becoming NSDA’s horticulture and biology branch director in 1978, then joining AAFC as a tree fruit research scientist in 1982.

In the 30 years since, Embree served as a reference co-ordinator for the United States regional research committee in North Central Regional Research, and as a member of the U.S. Germplasm Committee and the North East Plant Growth Regulator Working Group, said Nichols.

Embree also has mentored graduate and undergraduate students as an adjunct professor at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College since 1988 and as a guest speaker at the annual meetings of apple grower groups in Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, he said.

Embree, observed Nichols, is a past-president and director of the Nova Scotia Institute of Agrologists as well as a former director of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Society of Horticultural Science and the NSFGA.

Nichols also cited the numerous awards and distinctions Embree has earned over the years: the International Society for Horticultural Science’s medal of recognition for organizing its first symposium on organic apples and pears, the NSIA’s Distinguished Life Member’s award, the NSFGA’s Honorary Life Membership, and, more recently, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Dalhousie University in 2010 and the NSAC Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Bill Craig
“He has been a huge asset to our association,” said NSFGA vice-president Stephen Van Meekeren as he presented Bill Craig with a commemorative gift and certificate. “I am amazed at his memory of all aspects of our industry from rootstock to pests. We were really blessed as an association to have him with us for the past 35 years.”

In reply, Craig commented to the growers that he started working with their fathers and he is now working with their grandchildren.

A lot has changed in the past 35 years, he added, but he has found growers to be open-minded.

“Now, that I am about to retire, thank you very much and all the best in the next 150 years,” he said.

Dela Erith
Craig presented Dela Erith with her farewell gift of appreciation and certificate.

“It takes a big machine to move an industry like this forward,” said Erith. “I want to thank all the many people who have contributed to the success of the industry.”

As part of its sesquicentennial celebration, the NSFGA prepared for distribution certificates of appreciation to 62 individuals who were either long-serving NSFGA members or significant contributors to the health of the tree fruit industry.

The NSFGA 150th anniversary tea also heard from several dignitaries full of praise for the grower organization.

Dr. Christine DeLauriers praised the NSFGA for “a tremendous job representing the industry’s interests in various negotiations.”

The NSFGA also has been very important, she stated, in providing direction on what cultivars to plant and what research should be done. While there are fewer growers today, they have higher productivity because of technology and information sharing among NSFGA members who have been early adapters of new technology.

“The Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association has a heritage of 150 years of development and growth that is truly amazing,” said Linda MacDonald, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture’s director of corporate services and policy.

Dennis Boudreau, Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture president, praised the NSFA for 150 years of leadership in Nova Scotia Agriculture in developing new varieties, new technology and the expansion of export markets.

Scott Brison, the MP for Annapolis Valley-Hants, reflected on the 150 years of change in Valley fruit growing and stressed the importance of localized and regional research in light of the fact the Annapolis Valley has different demands and needs than other growing regions.

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