Orchardists pitch 'Grab Apples'


October 8, 2006

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and his cabinet munched on apple slices and sipped cider at Katherine and Doug Whitesell’s house on Tuesday.

Rain kept the group inside the partially renovated colonial home and out of the surrounding apple orchards.

"We have been struggling in the Virginia apple industry for a number of years," Katherine Whitesell, a part owner of Fruit Hill Orchard Inc., told those gathered in her home.

Kaine and his cabinet toured Winchester and Frederick and Warren counties on Tuesday as part of their third Cabinet Community Day.

"We are really focused on health initiatives right now," Kaine said about his reason for visiting the area.

Phil Glaize, president of Fred L. Glaize, a local orchardist, said he partnered with Katherine Whitesell and Jerry Dygert of Champlain Valley Specialty Co. to create Fruit Hill Slices LLC. That company has been bagging and marketing “Grab Apples” — presliced, ready-to-eat apples as a way to reach into a new market.

"We are up against Chiquita and Dole with this product," Glaize said about other companies that provide sliced apples.

The packets, which sell for between 50 cents and $1, have been marketed to schools as an alternative to unhealthy snacks, Glaize said.

The governor said he didn’t know much about the apple industry, but he thought the state might be able to help by purchasing apples to use in state institutions that serve food.

"Perhaps those are opportunities for us to be more in partnership," Kaine said.

Whitesell brought some packets with her when the cabinet traveled to Robert E. Aylor Middle School in Frederick County. She passed out a few to students in a Family and Consumer Science class while Kaine chatted with the students about healthy habits.

"Hopefully you’ll have them for part of your lunch," he said before he went to visit with a gym class.

In the gym, he told marathoner Katie Kerr-Hobert and her female students about his half-hour morning routine on an elliptical machine.

"If I run I have to take people with me," he said about his security detail, while a group of boys played a game nosily behind him.

"Kaine met with the boys and encouraged them to stay active before he walked into the school’s kitchen. There he sat down with Peggy Ramey, the cafeteria manager, while she showed him the NutriKids program that allows her to create a menu full of healthy meals.

On his way out he met with teacher Jack Rudolph, who has lost 47 pounds. Most of the weight came off during a weight loss contest held last year dubbed The Biggest Loser to recognize the television show it was modeled after.

Frederick County Schools Superintendent Patricia Taylor highlighted the district’s Winning with Wellness program that was started two years ago. Nearly 800 employees participated in cholesterol screenings last year, she said.


Contact Sarah A. Reid at sreid@winchesterstar.com

Original Article