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Extension agent focuses on fruits, vegetables

March 06, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A multi-county extension agent specializing in the commercial vegetable and small fruit industry has been hired by the Penn State Cooperative Extension Agency in Franklin County.

Eric Vorodi, a native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., will work in Franklin, Adams and Cumberland counties.

The specialized position is the first of its kind in the three counties.

"This season, my goal is to get to know as many growers as possible and to understand the needs of the people - a needs assessment," Vorodi said.

The area' commercial vegetable and fruit industry has blossomed in the last five to 10 years, Vorodi said.

Several farmers who have the land and want to supplement their incomes are breaking into the vegetable and fruit market, he said.

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"It's still in a transitional phase here," he said.

A demand for locally grown vegetables and fruit is slowly developing in the area as more large grocery store chains buy local produce at auctions for their stores, according to Vorodi.

The challenge in the future will have the supply to meet the demand, he said.

In his first year, Vorodi said, he'll visit farms and meet with produce growers one-on-one to make sure they're updated on the latest technology and information.

"Through the first season I'll be responding to inquiries," Vorodi said. "I'll be looking to see who's up to speed with the current practices and introduce new things to them."

Vorodi received his bachelor of science degree in biology and his master's degree in horticulture from Penn State University.

His career with cooperative extension began in 1989 when he became the horticultural agent in Lehigh and Northampton counties. He subsequently returned to Cumberland Valley to work as a representative for Bartlett Tree Experts in Harrisburg.

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