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Local farmer named Apple Grower of the Year in Eastern U.S.

Kenny Barnwell accepts the United Community Bank Apple Grower of the Year Award in 2016. Kenny Barnwell accepts the United Community Bank Apple Grower of the Year Award in 2016.

Kenny Barnwell, a fifth generation apple grower and one of the most vocal and committed advocates for his industry, has been honored as this year’s Apple Grower of the Year for the East Region by American Fruit Grower, a leading trade magazine covering the industry.

The article chronicles Barnwell's innovative techniques in growing 25 apple varieties on 1,200 acres, his membership on more than a half dozen farm advocacy boards and his dedication as a watchdog and advocate for the apple industry in Raleigh and Washington.

“You’ve got a group of politicians out of this area that are willing to listen to agriculture," he told the magazine. "You don’t have that in a lot of areas. But you have to make sure they understand your needs. Don’t ask for the moon — because you’re not going to get it. But try to be relevant."

Barnwell took over the family orchard in 1989, replaced older orchards with new trellised trees and expanded in the apple country. Mark Williams, the executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County (AgHC), nominated Barnwell for the award. The Edneyville grower was recently reappointed as chair of AgHC, which advocates for the farming industry.

“I’ve personally known him for over 30 years and have sat in at least a thousand ag-related meetings with him during that time,” says Mark Williams,  “He voluntarily contributes countless hours as one of the strongest advocates for the apple industry and ag-related operations. Kenny has the respect, admiration, and appreciation of all who know him.”