Erika DeBrouwer brings an understanding of both production and business side of growing tree fruit to the new role
By Jackie Clark
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) recently welcomed Erika DeBrouwer to their Simcoe office as the new tree fruit specialist. She has production, business and research experience with crops such as pears, peaches and apples.
“I have been fortunate enough to have grown up on a fruit tree farm, which provided me with hands on experience as to how a fruit tree farm operates,” DeBrouwer told Farms.com. This breadth of experience includes understanding “equipment needs, maintenance procedures, weather mitigation strategies, production requirements, storage solutions, packing and processing systems, and marketing plans.”
DeBrouwer also completed a Master of Science degree in the crop science department at the University of Guelph.
Her research focused on “the postharvest physiology of ‘Honeycrisp’ apples, where I was further exposed to fruit tree production, research setup, data collection, project planning and more technical skill development,” she explained.
In her new role she plans “to focus on both research and extension work,” she added. “I want to continue to provide Ontario growers with new strategies and implementations to drive industry success.”
DeBrouwer looks forward to continual learning at OMAFRA “but most of all - working directly with growers. I really want to help them succeed and hope that I can provide consistent advancement of information and expansion in knowledge transfer,” she added.
Labour efficiency is one of the most prominent challenges facing tree fruit growers in the province today, DeBrouwer said.
“We have come a long way to develop practices and technologies that continue to improve labour efficiency within the apple sector,” she explained. “At OMAFRA we will continue to develop approaches, materials and technologies to further advance the sectors resilience and adaptability regarding labour.”
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