Gardners, PA – Rice Fruit Company, a leading producer of high-quality Eastern apples, has announced the retirement of Lee Showalter, a long-time industry advocate and fruit grower. Lee has been a pivotal member of the Rice Fruit team for over thirteen years, with an unwavering passion for the apple industry.
In 1969, the Showalter Family purchased Five Forks Orchards in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Their son Lee had just graduated from Penn State with a degree in AG Business Management, which was the beginning of Lee Showalter’s career in agriculture. Five Forks specialized in growing apples, fresh stone fruit, and even tomatoes and spinach for processing. As the business grew and evolved, the orchards transitioned to fresh market apples. Lee’s expertise in fruit was honed and perfected. His dedication and passion were evident as he became an integral part of the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program for 15 years, in addition to serving on the SHAP research committee and as a director on the boards of Knouse Foods Cooperative and the USApple Association.
Lee worked tirelessly operating his farm and managing his storage and packing operations until he joined Rice Fruit Company in 2010. With an arsenal of orcharding under his belt, Lee began his next chapter in Food Safety when programs were in their infancy. Lee established himself as the bridge to all Apple communities near and far. He has become the go-to person for aiding many other growers in establishing their own food safety programs and embracing his role as a grower liaison and peer mentor. In 2015, he was named Apple Person of the Year. His unwavering dedication to educating and counseling his colleagues has been a gift to the apple industry. He is proof that any time spent in an orchard is time well spent.
From everyone at Rice Fruit Company and beyond, we would like to express our sincerest thanks to Lee for his dedication to the apple industry and wish him the very best in his next adventures.
About Rice Fruit Company
Rice Fruit Company, a family-run fruit packing business in the heart of Pennsylvania’s apple country, is dedicated to growing, packing, and shipping sweet-natured fruit to consumers near and far. A leader in innovative packinghouse technology, Rice Fruit is situated on the easternmost ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, whose peaks and valleys create a microclimate ideal for growing apples and many other delicious fruits. Rice Fruit is committed to delivering fruit at the height of freshness. Our proximity to buyer customers also ensures a reduced carbon footprint, moving our sweet-natured fruit sustainably to market, preserving the freshness of the fruit, and our heritage of delivering quality and consistency to our customers with each and every apple.