Like most great endeavors, Subarashii Kudamono – Japanese for “wonderful fruit” – has unique beginnings. “We’ve been growing Asian Pears for over 30 years; we started as a vision of an electronics inventor, Joel Spira” says Holly Harter, Director of Marketing for SK. In 1973, Spira, an American inventor and business man was fascinated by the Asian pear after a trip to Japan. He returned home to Pennsylvania where he and his wife, Ruth Rodale Spira began their own orchard in the Lehigh Valley. Together, Joel’s knowledge of engineering along with Ruth’s botany background and Rodale family connection to agriculture, “was the ideal combination” in starting Subarashii Kudamono.
Today the orchards sprawl over hundreds of acres in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania, just south of Allentown. “We believe the carbon emission reduction impact of our trees is equivalent to 800 tons annually. All those green leaves scrubbing the air!” says Harter about the environmental impact of the orchard. The thousands of trees and their fruit are also the host to a variety of bee colonies, working hard to pollinate the fruit trees. “Subarashii has owned its own bees for years; the original colony is made up of Japanese Horn-Faced Bees. They love the nectar of Asian Pear Blossoms so they are effective pollinators. However they don’t make honey and (we love this!) they don’t sting!” They expanded their bee population a few years ago to keep up with the company’s growth and worked with a local apiarist to establish honeybee colonies on their orchard. “The nice thing about the honey bee colony is that they have been very healthy – no colony collapse (disease); in fact the colony nearly tripled just this past Spring – we believe this is due to not moving the hives.” These healthy honey bees produce Subarashii Kudamono’s amber colored and lightly sweet, Asian Pear Blossom Honey. “At Subarashii, we believe that sustainability is part and parcel with farming – waste not, want not and we strive to make use of everything we grow — including the sweet nectar from our trees!” Want to know more about honey bees? Visit our blog post about local beekeeper, The Honeybee Shoppe.
Subarashii Kudamono has always been committed to using innovative solutions to avoid sprays by practicing Integrated Pest Management, an approach focusing on long-term prevention of pests or their damage by managing the ecosystem. “We live in a climate where sprays are often key to survival due to humidity and pests, unique to [the] eastern seaboard.” By using IPM techniques they can manage pests without regularly spraying.
Tom Sacks, General Manager at Subarashii Kudamono explains that practicing IPM techniques “helps us maintain a balance in our orchard so that we can grow the most amazing looking and tasting Asian Pears utilizing the good bugs in our farm environment to help us thwart the bad pests.” For example, pheromone traps are set throughout the orchards to trap a specific moth that can be damaging to the pears. They monitor when this moth is at a particular phase of its life cycle, when it is vulnerable and once the infestation is at a certain level are best informed to take action and spray what is absolutely needed. Over the past several years, the number of Stink Bugs in Pennsylvania have increased dramatically — traps are employed and Assassin Bugs are welcomed into the orchards to minimize the population.
Asian pear harvest begins in September and continues through late October, however they’ll keep in a crisper drawer, unwrapped for over a month. We’re excited to offer our customers Subarashii Kudamono fresh pears, pear spread, blossom honey and tasty dried pears, when available.