Sep 28, 2023
Longtime apple leader Lee Showalter plans to retire
Lee Showalter, a longtime apple industry advocate, fruit grower and Rice Fruit Company’s grower services manager for more than 13 years, plans to retire at the end of the year.
In announcing his retirement, the Gardners, Pennsylvania-based company said Showalter has been a pivotal member of the Rice Fruit team 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 agriculture business management, and he began his long career in agriculture. Five Forks specialized in growing apples and stone fruit, and tomatoes and spinach for processing. As the business grew and evolved, the orchards transitioned to fresh market apples.
His expertise in fruit was honed and perfected, according to a statement from Rice Fruit, and Showalter’s dedication and passion were evident as he became an integral part of the Pennsylvania Apple Marketing Program for 15 years. Showalter served on the State Horticultural Association of Pennsylvania’s research committee, and was a director on the boards of Knouse Foods Cooperative and the U.S. Apple Association.
He worked tirelessly operating his farm and managing its storage and packing operations until he joined Rice Fruit Co. in 2010. With an arsenal of orcharding under his belt, Showalter began his next chapter in food safety at Rice Fruit.
Showalter established himself as the bridge to all apple communities, according to Rice Fruit, and 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. 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, according to the Rice Fruit statement.
“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,” according to the statement.