Berry Patch pioneers new technique to combat pests
Stephentown, N.Y. — The Berry Patch has pioneered an innovative solution to a serious and growing problem: infestation from spotted wing drosophila, an invasive fruit fly that has been devastating American berry crops since 2008. Since arriving in the U.S., SWD has made growing commercially acceptable, pesticide-free raspberries and blueberries virtually impossible.
Native to Southeast Asia, SWD first appeared in California in 2008 and spread to Florida the following year. By 2010 it had migrated to the Carolinas, Louisiana, Utah, Michigan and Wisconsin. Northeastern fruit growers first went to battle with the insect in 2012, when an average of 80 percent of raspberry and 30 percent of blueberry crops–and approximately $4.3 million in revenue in New York state alone–were lost due to infestation of the fruit during its early ripening stages.
In 2012, Berry Patch co-owner Dale-Ila Riggs lost about 40 percent of her blueberry crop to SWD. After observing some early research on the use of exclusion netting at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, she obtained a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to test the use of the netting on her half-acre blueberry planting. Riggs adapted her existing bird-netting support system into a support system for the exclusion netting, with extra protections and anchoring to withstand thunderstorms, hail and winds up to 60 mph. She then compared the fruit from the covered plot to the fruit grown in a control plot protected only with bird netting and documented an infestation rate of 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent in 2014 and 2015 and, last year, had a zero percent infestation rate. Other farms around the country have started to duplicate the Berry Patch’s successful system.
Riggs will set up her blueberry exclusion netting again in early July, prior to SWD’s summer activity. She also plans to experiment with the same exclusion netting for her high-tunnel raspberry planting this year for the first time. “With SWD, no one has been able to grow pesticide-free berries that are free from infestation,” Riggs notes. “The netting makes it possible. This is a highly effective method that brings new hope for growers.”
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Mahaiwe hires new director of advancement
Great Barrington — The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center has announced the appointment of Janis Martinson as its director of advancement. Martinson will assume her new position at the theater on Saturday, July 1, where she will work with Mahaiwe senior leadership to develop and articulate long-term organizational strategies and vision; supervise development staff to achieve all major gift, special event and contributed income goals; and help establish new campaign initiatives for the Mahaiwe’s strength and sustainability.
A longtime Egremont resident, Martinson is currently vice president of institutional advancement at Lesley University in Cambridge, where she has led university fundraising and alumni and donor relations for three years. She spent 17 years as chief advancement officer at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, leading two capital campaigns, developing volunteer cohorts, and overseeing events and communications. She is a graduate of Princeton University in New Jersey and UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management.
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Wheeler & Taylor honored at appreciation event
Lenox — The Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce held its annual member appreciation event held at the Hilton Garden Inn on June 7. Special recognition during the event was given to Wheeler & Taylor Inc. for its advocacy of SCC’s commitment to the support of businesses and the overall well being of the town of Stockbridge.
According to SCC President Michael Duffy, Wheeler & Taylor staff have been involved in the town of Stockbridge and the SCC for many years via volunteering for events, sitting on SCC’s board of directors and various committees, and financially sponsoring the chamber. Duffy recognized a few of the employees for their dedication, including Jessi Meagher, a realty sales associate who sits on SCC’s board of directors and membership committee; Mike Diaz, an account executive managing Dalton who sat on the board of directors and membership committee for three years before resigning in 2015; insurance operations manager Kim TenBroeck, who was recognized for her volunteer support when she worked in the Stockbridge office; and Douglas Goudey, president of Wheeler & Taylor Realty and chief financial officer of the insurance division, who sat on the board of directors for 10 years, assisted in implementing the build-out of SCC’s permanent home office, acquired the information booth on Main Street, and organizes some of SCC’s annual events.
Duffy said that Wheeler & Taylor’s passion for business and the community is what made the company this year’s business of the year honoree. An award was presented to Wheeler & Taylor’s president George Ryan, who has worked with Wheeler & Taylor for 37 years, serving as president for the past six years and working in Stockbridge for more than 20 years.
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Architect Pamela Sandler completes 10,000 Small Businesses program
Stockbridge — Architect Pamela Sandler has completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which helps entrepreneurs develop jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. Sandler fine-tuned her firm’s business growth plan, which extends the firm’s reach by teaming with groups that develop appropriate housing for Autism Spectrum Disorder and special needs adults in the northeast.
As the mother of two ASD adults, Sandler understands professionally as well as personally the residential requirements for special-needs adults. “When designing full-time living spaces and communities, there are considerations most firms would not naturally consider, such as creating visually calm living areas, soundproof rooms, spacious hallways as well as common areas that promote physical activity. The design should include appropriate ventilation and use all-green, nontoxic products. And of course, we need to create a sense of familiarity and security,” she said.
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Berkshire County Arc gains director of day and family enrichment services
Pittsfield — Berkshire County Arc has made Cybèle Kilby its new director of day and family enrichment services. Kilby has been with BCArc since 2006 and has worked as residential site manager and a case manager at BCArc’s Center for Development day program. Most recently, she worked as a case manager and family advocate in the advocacy and family Support department. Kilby holds a bachelor’s degree from Smith College in Northampton and a master’s degree from Simmons College in Boston.