SweeTango Apple Giveaway and an Interview with Rod Farrow of Lamont Fruit Farm – Waterport, NY

recipe blog, food blog, farmers, culinary travel

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. ~ Martin Luther

When most people go to the grocery store to shop for their food, they don’t often think about the story behind their purchase.  A bag of apples is just that and other than choosing the preferred variety, there’s not too much more thought that goes into it.

We are very different when we go to the store to shop for our food.  Working in the culinary world and being a lifelong home cook, knowing where our food comes from is one of the most important things to us.  The choices we make at the grocery store and the dishes we choose to eat while dining out are often based on who raised or grew the product and how it was handled in the process.  It matters to us and we know that those ingredients grown and raised with care just taste better.

When I was asked to work with the SweeTango folks to help promote their new variety of apple, I was curious about more than how the apple was developed.  I wanted to chat with one of the farmers who grows the SweeTango apple and get their perspective on growing a managed variety apple.


The SweeTango apple is grown in five states in the U.S. (Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York) and in two Canadian provinces (Quebec and Nova Scotia) by a cooperative of 45 members, called the Next Big Thing.  First introduced in 2009, this apple was developed by apple breeders at the University of Minnesota.  They used natural methods to cross two varieties, the Honeycrisp and Zestar!, which resulted in the development of the apple tree that produces SweeTango, the Minneiska cultivar.

One of the SweeTango apple growers, Rod Farrow, owner of Lamont Fruit Farm in Waterport, New York, was kind enough to take some time out from his busy harvest season to answer some of our questions about growing the SweeTango apple.

recipe blog, farmers. artisans, food blog, culinary travel

* Rod Farrow of Lamont Fruit Farm – Waterport, NY

Lamont Fruit Farm was Incorporated in 1966 by sixth generation farmers in Albion, New York, brothers George and Roger Lamont.  Farrow came over from England to work for the Lamont brothers in 1980 to learn about fruit production as their protégé.  He returned to England after a period of time, but came back in 1986 to work for Lamont again.

Farrow eventually began to buy in to the farm as a partner and today, he and his wife, Karyn, are the owners of Lamont Fruit Farm.  They grow 27 varieties of apples on 480 acres of land, of which 28 acres are SweeTango and apples are the only thing grown on their farm.  This year they will produce over 400,000 bushels of apples, of which 10,000 bushels will be SweeTango.

Since SweeTango is a cultivated and managed variety, we were interested in understanding why a farmer would choose to to grow this particular apple.  There is a substantial financial commitment and investment for the farmer as well as additional work that goes into successfully developing and growing a new variety.  Rod Farrow answered some of these questions for us.

SweeTango apple at Larmont Fruit Farms

* SweeTango apple at Lamont Fruit Farms

Q – What is the advantage to growing SweeTango over other varieties?
Rod:  A managed variety like SweeTango means only select grower partners are producing the best fruit to the highest standards, ensuring a great experience for the consumer every time. That consistent quality and managed supply allows us to maintain a price that keeps the variety profitable for us as growers. It provides a great foundation for the future of our business since out of control price fluctuations have dramatic impacts on our income from one year to the next.

Q – Is it worth the investment to switch over to growing this variety?  Was it a large investment?
Rod:   All new apple plantings are a significant investment. The costs for developing all new orchards, whatever the variety, are significant and very similar but are an essential investment in our future. With SweeTango, it is absolutely worth investing in such a high-quality, well-managed variety.  It was certainly an easy decision for all of us in NBT to invest in such a great apple!!

Q – What was your biggest surprise in growing the SweeTango apple – good and bad?
Rod:  As with all new varieties, there is a learning curve that’s going to trip you up along the way. We were really pleased at how friendly the tree is to grow — it just naturally forms a well-branched fruitful tree that gives us large apples pretty much by itself. We have had some problems with skin blemishes, especially on the really young trees but experience is teaching us how to overcome that. The good news it it doesn’t have any effect on the eating quality.

Q – How do you feel about the product being controlled and not available to be grown by others?  How does this impact competition and pricing?
Rod:  Being one of the members of the grower cooperative allows us to set specific, enforceable grade standards that ensure we deliver great fruit to the consumer every time.  This is obviously important in driving the repeat sales that keep us in business. Having the ability to match the supply to the demand also maintains a competitive price that helps both the consumer and the grower.

Rod with Mark Russell of Whittier Farms

* Rod with Mark Russell of Whittier Fruit Farm

Rod’s message rings true in many ways.  Have you noticed the taste and quality of certain fruits and vegetables has changed over the years?  A good example is the Honeycrisp apple.  I remember the first time I ate a Honeycrisp.  It lived up to its name.  It was very sweet and crispy, more than any apple I had ever tasted.  Over the years, the sweetness and crispness changed and the overall quality of the apple became inconsistent.  Today, the Honeycrisp can be disappointing based on where it’s from and how it is grown.  The growing standards put in place on SweeTango will help control the future quality of the product.

We personally have really enjoyed the SweeTango apple this fall.  Before seeing it in the markets in the Atlanta area, we purchased several while we were in Arizona last month.  It truly does have a unique taste which is crisp, bright, sweet, yet a bit tangy on the finish.  I’m not one to generally snack on apples, but I have found myself doing so with these.  In addition, they have been great to work with in recipes, as I mentioned in the first post about the SweeTango apple.  These apples have become a new favorite.

This soup was fabulous

This Sweet Potato and SweeTango Apple Soup was fabulous

Be sure to check your local markets to see if SweeTango apples are still available, although they do have a short season.  If your markets did not carry them this year, then be sure to ask the store manager about securing them for next fall.

SweeTango is sponsoring a giveaway for one of my readers.  This includes a dozen apples shipped to your home (lower 48 states only), and a swag bag with a SweeTango t-shirt and a few other goodies.  Directions on how to enter are below.

BTW – Don’t forget to enter the online SweeTango Sweepstakes where one lucky winner and their guest will be flown to Los Angeles to dine at Animal Restaurant.  Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo created several recipes specifically for this apple.

culinary travel, chef interviews

* Chefs Shook and Dotolo of Animal Restaurant in L.A.

Here’s how you enter to win the SweeTango Apple Giveway: 

– Leave a comment telling me what your favorite fall dish or dessert is that’s made with apples.

* Regretfully, due to the contents (produce), this package can only be shipped to a winner in the Continental U.S.  I apologize to my readers that live outside of that area.

Extra Entries:
Here are four additional ways that you can enter.

1. Like @SweeTango on Facebook. Leave a comment here indicating that you liked the page. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

2. Follow SweeTango on Twitter.  Leave a comment here indicating that you are now a follower. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

3. Like Bunkycooks on Facebook. Leave a comment here indicating you liked the page. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

4. Follow @Bunkycooks on Twitter.  Leave a comment here indicating that you are now a follower. If you are already a follower, you can leave a comment saying you are.

5. Subscribe to Bunkycooks by RSS feed or email. Leave a comment saying you are now a subscriber. If you are already a subscriber, you can leave a comment saying you are.

** You can have a total of 6 entries, however, each comment needs to be left separately to count as one entry each. **

This giveaway ends at 5 pm EST on Monday November 4, 2013.

I will notify the winner by email. Please get back to me with your shipping information within 48 hours or I will have to choose another winner.

Good luck!!


* Photos courtesy of SweeTango.

Disclosure – I was contacted by SweeTango to help promote their brief apple season in the Atlanta area.  While this post was compensated, as always, the opinions expressed on this site are my own.

This content is protected under International Copyright Laws.  Bunkycooks provides this content to its readers for their personal use.  No part (text or images) may be copied or reproduced, in whole or in part, without the express written permission of bunkycooks.com.  All rights reserved.

38 Responses to “SweeTango Apple Giveaway and an Interview with Rod Farrow of Lamont Fruit Farm – Waterport, NY”

  1. 1

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    I live for the apple pie.
    It’s so simple, so basic, but when done right, there is nothing that is more soul-satisfying.
    And when people have my apple pie, they purr.

  2. 2

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    I have liked Sweet Tango on Facebook.

  3. 3

    Priscilla - ShesCookin — October 30, 2013 @ 12:38 pm

    I’ve been reading a lot about SweeTango apples lately and am on the lookout for them! The idea of maintaining consistency and quality through managed cooperatives is an interesting concept. I visited Idaho for the potato harvest and learned about the time and expense that goes into introducing new varieties – I wonder if they have managed varieties. Thanks for this informative post – I like apples just as they are (if they’re good ones!) sweet and crispy in salads or with cheese.

  4. 4

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

    I am now following Sweet Tango on Twitter.
    I am @thatSusanW

  5. 5

    Priscilla - ShesCookin — October 30, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    I already follow you everywhere and have followed SweeTango and entered their sweepstakes or a trio to LA – they’ll save on airfare if I win 😉

  6. 6

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:41 pm

    I like you on Facebook, dear Bunkycooks.

  7. 7

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

    I follow you on Twitter, where I am @thatSusanW

  8. 8

    Susan Williams — October 30, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

    I subscribed to your RSS feed.

  9. 9

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    apple crisp

  10. 10

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

    Like @SweeTango on Facebook.

  11. 11

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:10 pm

    Follow SweeTango on Twitter.

  12. 12

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

    Like Bunkycooks on Facebook.

  13. 13

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    Follow @Bunkycooks on Twitte

  14. 14

    Christopher Sorel — October 30, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

    email subscriber

  15. 15

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

    I love apple cobbler!

  16. 16

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

    Like sweet tango on Facebook as Wendy Wallach zephier

  17. 17

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

    Like bunny cooks on Facebook as Wendy Wallach zephier

  18. 18

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    Follow sweet tango on twitter as @madamerkf

  19. 19

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

    Follow bunny cooks on twitter as @madamerkf

  20. 20

    Wendy Wallach — October 30, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    Subscribe to bunny cooks as madamerkf at aol dot com

  21. 21

    Jamie — October 30, 2013 @ 1:58 pm

    I can’t win this, obviously, but I am so with you on this. Last time I was in an American supermarket I noticed a sign in the produce section listing the fruits and vegetables that were sprayed or coated with wax. Apples. This scared me! In France, we buy apples from the apple people – they only sell apples and pears from the orchards. Real fruit. And what a difference! Wonderful interview, Gwen, and cheers to the Sweetango people!

  22. 22

    Kate kluetmeier — October 30, 2013 @ 2:07 pm

    Julia child’s tarte tatin…a challenge but such a treat!

  23. 23

    Carole Martin — October 30, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    I am a fool for apple crisp! The sweet and tangy apple paired with the nuts, brown sugar and oats in the crisp is divine!

  24. 24

    ronnie campbell — October 30, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    Nice story! I actually saw these at Manhasset Whole Foods last week, but didn’t buy because I wasn’t familiar. Now I am, so will definitely check them out. Thanks for the giveaway opp, too. I’ve liked SweeTango, and of course already like Bunkycooks all-around :-) – !

  25. 25

    rachel — October 30, 2013 @ 6:49 pm

    Apple pie or homemade applesauce :)

  26. 26

    Meghan Finley — October 31, 2013 @ 12:22 am

    I love huckleberry apple pie

  27. 27

    Meghan Finley — October 31, 2013 @ 12:23 am

    I Like @SweeTango on Facebook.

  28. 28

    Meghan Finley — October 31, 2013 @ 12:24 am

    I Follow SweeTango on Twitter @immortalb4

  29. 29

    Pamela — November 2, 2013 @ 9:44 am

    Whiskey Apple Pie. Hands down favorite. :-)

  30. 30

    Pietra Cruz — November 3, 2013 @ 1:53 am

    I liked SweeTango on Facebook. Thanks!

  31. 31

    Pietra Cruz — November 3, 2013 @ 1:55 am

    I liked Bunkycooks on Facebook. Thank you!

  32. 32

    Lisa Woods — November 3, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    I am a fan of SweeTango on Facebook! Also, my favorite apple dish is: Slow Cooker Fall Harvest Pork Stew

  33. 33

    Gertrude Stone — November 3, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

    My son graduated from the Univ. of Minn. He told me about Sweet Tango, and I have been enjoying them ever since. I just like to eat them raw. They are the best apple I have ever eaten.

  34. 34

    James Humble — November 3, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

    I love apple crunchie (or crisp as some may call it) It is the perfect combination of crunchy oats and delicious tart apples. I have never tried them with sweetangos, but having eaten them separately I can say that they would make a fantastic contribution to the cause.

  35. 35

    James Humble — November 3, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

    I liked @sweetango on facebook. Thanks!

  36. 36

    James Humble — November 3, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

    I liked bunnycooks on facebook. Thanks again!

  37. 37

    Gina Mahalek — November 4, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    I followed SweeTango on Twitter. And bought a dozen yesterday!

  38. 38

    Gina Mahalek — November 4, 2013 @ 4:39 pm

    I liked SweeTango on Facebook.

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