As food insecurity and hunger come to the forefront this holiday season, one local lab is doing its part to help.

The Hudson Valley Research Laboratory (HVRL) is run by Cornell University. While it's run by Cornell, which is located in Ithaca, New York, the HVRL is right here in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley Research Laboratory is in Highland and is a center for tree fruit research.

According to a press release from Cornell University, the HVRL donated 47,000 pounds of apples and pears to local food banks this fall. That's over 23 tons of food. The donations went to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley and Ulster Corps. The fruit was harvested from HVRL's 21-acre orchard. Annual fruit donations from the HVRL began in 2004.

HVRL's orchard conducts horticultural, insect, and disease management research. This research benefits farmers and growers across New York State, according to the press release. The orchard produces 20 varieties of pears and apples that are common in New York State. If the fruit isn't harvested for donation, it simply drops to the ground to feed the local wildlife. While this fruit was donated in the fall, the HVRL recently added two large cold storage units to their facilities. This will allow staff to store and distribute additional fruit in the winter.

The press release states that some of the varieties donated were apple varieties including Zestar, McIntosh, Honeycrisp, EverCrisp, Crimson Crisp, Fuji, Pink Lady, Goldrush, and RubyFrost. The RubyFrost variety was actually developed by Cornell University.

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