Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County (CCE Oswego County) and Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest NY (CCE Harvest NY), will be hosting a state-wide conference on a native fruit called pawpaw ( Asimina triloba), at the historic Kallet Theater in Pulaski, NY. Pawpaw is the largest edible fruit native to North America. It looks tropical and has a flavor most commonly associated with mango and banana. Its natural habitat extends from Michigan and New York to as far south as northern Florida, and as far west as Oklahoma and Kansas. While the fruit looks and tastes tropical, it can withstand cold temperatures down to USDA hardiness zone 5 and can be grown alongside other fruits right here in upstate New York. There are even historical records dating back to the nineteenth century showing that pawpaw was discovered in southern Oswego County near the Three Rivers Area. Today, however, most of the wild pawpaws are in the western portion of the state. While pawpaws were grown by Indigenous Peoples in the past, sadly they became North America’s forgotten fruit.
Recently, new cultivars have allowed for a niche industry to form and there is a lot of interest in seeing this native fruit return. Pawpaws are a wonderful crop with a lot of potential. In New York, the fruit begins to ripen in late September and continues through the first two weeks of October. One of the advantages of growing pawpaws is they are relatively pest free, making them attractive to small-scale agricultural producers. Beyond eating the fresh fruit, there are value-added products that can be made from pawpaw pulp, including pawpaw ice cream, jams, and even alcoholic beverages. However, one of the key challenges of creating a niche industry in New York is the lack of education and awareness. Most nursery managers, fruit growers, value-added producers and consumers are simply unfamiliar with this unique fruit. Therefore, the goal of the conference is to help bring the North American pawpaw out of the shadows. Conference organizers want to help fill in some important gaps in knowledge about this amazing fruit and to lay out a vision for the future.
This conference will cover pawpaw history, best fruit production practices, nutrition, processing, value-added products, and marketing. Some of our guest speakers are recognized growers and researchers from across the country. The cost to attend this all-day event is $40 per person. Registration (link below) is required and seating is limited. Attendees will also be able to develop professional relationships and help build a network across New York. Registration includes entry into the conference and an opportunity to try fresh pawpaw fruit provided by the Cornell Orchard. Attendees will also be able to taste some value-added products including pawpaw jam and pawpaw ice cream. Registration fees do not include lunch, or the after-hour pawpaw alcoholic samplings led by Kallet Theater. Once attendees have registered online, they will receive a follow up email with the conference agenda and a list of restaurant locations within walking distance of Kallet Theater. There are numerous hotel accommodations in the area for those wishing to stay overnight.
Option to pay online will be available soon. Currently, to confirm your seat at this educational event, please mail a check or cash to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County located at 3288 Main Street, Mexico, NY 13114. All checks should be made out to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County.
For more information about the New York State Pawpaw Conference, please contact Joshua Vrooman, Agriculture Educator for CCE Oswego County at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-963-7286 ext. 200 or Anya Osatuke, Small Fruits Specialist for CCE Harvest NY at email@example.com or 607-752-2793.
Roger Ort, retired Cornell Cooperative Extension educator, Nursery manager, and owner of Ort Family Farm (in person), will provide a broad overview of the North American pawpaw to attendees. This will include some of the following topics, 1) its natural habitat and fruit characteristics, 2) its native distribution across North America, 3) cultural and agricultural history of pawpaw, 4) insights on why pawpaw became North America’s forgotten fruit, and 6) key individuals and organizations over the past few decades that are trying to revive this fruit.
Dr. Stephen Tulowiecki, Associate Professor of Geography SUNY Geneseo (in person), has published on the native distribution of wild pawpaw’s in New York State (NYS). He will provide a presentation looking at 1) where native pawpaws are located in NYS, 2) what conditions allowed them to thrive, 3) how he believes they arrived in this region, and 4) discuss how climate change might affect the long-term viability of pawpaw production in NYS
Blake Cothron, Pawpaw grower, nursery owner, author, speaker (virtual), will provide a virtual presentation on identifying key considerations that should be factored when designing a pawpaw orchard for small agricultural fruit production. This includes site assessments, pre-planting/site preparation, working with pawpaw nurseries, choosing the right varieties, transplanting, and irrigation systems. His presentation will also highlight other important practices and methods of how to care for young pawpaw trees during those first initial years. Cothron is the author of the 2021 book, “Pawpaws: The Complete Growing and Marketing Guide.”
Sheri Crabtree, Horticulture Research and Extension Association from Kentucky State University’s (KSU) Pawpaw Research Program (in person), will discuss key pawpaw production practices and marketing considerations for established pawpaw orchards based on KSU’s pawpaw research program. Among other things, she will highlight best production practices, harvesting techniques, post-harvesting processing, and identifying the best direct-to-consumer & wholesale markets for selling pawpaw fruit.
CCE staff will provide an opportunity for attendees to try fresh pawpaw fruit at their tables. The pawpaw fruit comes from the Cornell Orchard in Lansing, NY.
Attendees will break for lunch. There are a variety of food options within walking distance and conference organizers will provide a list of restaurants during the event. There will also be an option to purchase boxed lunches prepared by Kallet Theater.
* A serving size of pawpaw ice cream will be served for dessert during session three. The pawpaw puree is donated by the KSU pawpaw research program. The CiTi BOCES culinary department located in Mexico, NY is partnering with CCE Oswego and CCE Harvest NY to make the fresh pawpaw ice cream for the event.
Emily Anderson, Registered Dietary Nutritionist and coauthor of pawpaw nutritional studies completed at Ohio University (in person), will provide a presentation going over some of updated pawpaw nutritional analysis that was completed through Ohio University. She will also touch on some the successes and failures of preserving pawpaw pulp and will go over some pawpaw consumer taste surveys.
Chris Chmiel, owner of Integration Acres and founder of the Ohio Pawpaw Festival in Albany, Ohio (virtual), is the founder of Integration Acres, the largest pawpaw pulp processor in the world. Chris will provide a virtual presentation that tells how he got into pawpaws. He will also share practical methods related to pawpaw processing and highlight some of the different ways pawpaw pulp can be used to create secondary, value-added products.
Michael Judd, pawpaw grower, author, and founder of Pawpaw Fest located in Fredrick, Maryland (virtual), will discuss the importance of consumer education and why he started a pawpaw festival. He is the founder of the successful Pawpaw Fest located on his Long Creek Homestead property in Maryland, which is currently on its 7 th season. He is also the author of the 2019 book, “For the Love of Pawpaws: A Mini Manual for Growing and Caring for Pawpaws from Seed to Table.”
Chris Chmiel, owner of Integration Acres and founder of the Ohio Pawpaw Festival (virtual), will provide a second presentation discussing the importance of consumer education, including why he started the Ohio Pawpaw Festival and how pawpaw festivals can be a great way of creating public awareness. The Ohio Pawpaw Festival is on its 24 th season and it is the largest pawpaw festival in the world with an average gathering 5 to 10 thousand attendees every year.
Anya Osatuke, Small Fruits Specialists for CCE Harvest NY (in person), will discuss Cornell University’s prior pawpaw research trials and what we learned about growing pawpaws in New York State. She will also provide an update on a new pawpaw planting taking place in Ithica near Cornell University.
Griffin Erich, a student at Cornell University (in person), will assist by giving an overview of the current landscape of pawpaw production across NY (and the Northeast) based on his 2022 summer internship through Cornell University.
Joshua Vrooman, Agriculture Educator for CCE Oswego (in person), will provide some closing remarks, including a discussion about how we might move forward in building a niche pawpaw industry in New York.
Attendees will have an opportunity for roundtable discussions to review the day, including next steps and future priorities. They will also be invited to complete some evaluation surveys as the conference comes to a close.
Attendees will have the opportunity to mingle, network, and build professional relationships. The tentative plan includes Kallet Theater staff providing attendees the option to try some pawpaw alcoholic beverage taste samplings.
The cost to attend this all-day event is $40 per person. Registration is required and seating is limited.
4842 Jefferson Street
Pulaski, NY 13142
Last updated September 1, 2022