John Aselage, a Missouri native, received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from The University of Missouri and his Masters of Science in Horticulture from The Michigan State University. Intentionally settling in the Ozarks, John bought the orchard in 1979, dividing his time between A&A and Gerber Products Company from 1981 to 2008.
For much of his career as an Agricultural Research Specialist, John designed and implemented Gerber’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy for the southeastern and western United States. Together with entomologists, plant pathologists, and plant breeders, John helped to construct successful and sustainable farming methods, reducing and even eliminating the need for certain pesticides. Ultimately, this research determined the crop production systems John managed as the Organic Purchaser for Gerber’s organic line. An advocate for organic baby food, John not only established purchasing programs for organic commodities, but he also developed IPM for an assortment of fruits and vegetables, transitioning conventional farming operations into organic.
Excited by the organic agricultural momentum, John signed on with Amy’s Kitchen in 2008, where he worked with a diverse and global community of organic farmers. As Organic Agricultural Manager, John assisted in organizing the supply chain for Amy’s UK plant and helped build the supplier base for Amy’s future East Coast plant.
An orchard and travel enthusiast, John volunteered for roughly 15 years with Winrock International’s Farmer-to-Farmer program in the fruit growing regions of Kazakhstan, Nepal, and India. Based largely in remote and rural areas, John’s assignments focused on practical education, training fellow fruit growers in IPM basics and fruit production methods. In Nepal’s Annapurna Range, John demonstrated safe pest management practices to reduce indiscriminate use of pesticides, and in the India Himalaya, John collaborated with a local orchard, sharing rootstock to start a nursery for apple tree varieties.
John’s long involvement with IPM lead to selection as a panel member in 2006 and 2007 with the USDA’s Pest Management Alternatives Program (PMAP) in Washington D. C., and in 2008 and 2009, John served as the PMAP Panel Manager. Composed of scientists and agricultural professionals, the group was charged with providing U. S. farmers with economical and science-based IPM tactics. After careful review, the committee awarded grants to worthy research proposals, producing innovative and wide-ranging IPM endeavors.
John’s career span in organics the last 20 years and in conventional farming a prior 14 years deepens and broadens his agricultural viewpoint. This life spent in the field, as a research and purchasing professional and as a pomologist, gives John unique qualifications to create appropriate agricultural management strategies. John’s laboratory is A&A, both a small orchard business and a useful resource for fruit farming in the region.* Thirty-six years later, John’s engagement with A&A and with agriculture reflects a true commitment to farm and land.
Aselage JM. 1994. IPM and the midsouth processor. Food Reviews International. 2 (10).
Aselage JM, Zehnder G. June 2005. Industry perspective on research priorities for IPM in organic crops for processing. Paper presented at: CAB International. Proceedings of the International Congress of Entomology; Wallingford, Oxon, UK.
Aselage JM, Johnson DT. 2009. From IPM to organic and sustainable agriculture. In: Radcliffe EB, Hutchison WD, Cancelado RE, editors. Integrated pest management: concepts, tactics, strategies and case studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 489-505.
*A&A Orchard has cooperated with The University of Arkansas Fruit Entomologist Donn Johnson and Research Assistant Barbara Lewis on integrated and organic pest management projects for 30 plus years.