Apple Leaf

Meet Our StaffMeet Our Staff

Our Team carries the qualifications that third party audits and growers are looking for: HACCP certified, Pesticide Licenses, Certified Entomologist and Crop Consultants, NIACC members, TSP, Master's level policy writers, pomologist, entomologist, pathologist, Organic Certification to Inspect, etc. If we don't have the certification required, we will go out and find the necessary qualifications and will receive it prior to completion of the project.

Rob Koch, Executive Director, is the founder and current president of Apple Leaf, LLC.  Begun in 2003 as an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) consulting company in Upstate New York, Apple Leaf now offers agricultural, food safety and biological assessment services to growers, developers and land-use management municipalities across the Northeast, Northwest, and Internationally.

In his head role at Apple Leaf, Rob focuses heavily on both agricultural and community-based services.  Within the agriculture realm, Rob runs his company according to site and/or commodity-specific strategies which include holistic IPM, organic, biodynamic, permaculture, and conventional practices and technologies.  Using IPM, Apple Leaf designs and implements field sampling methodologies which are specific to commodities or targeted species. Field/plant samples are currently in place for growers of pomme/stone fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants and flowers and permaculture.  Examples of community services which Rob runs through Apple Leaf include Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Global Information Systems (GIS) mapping.  He has collaborated and formed partnerships with domestic and international agriculture groups and academic institutions, as well as with domestic governments and extension offices.  Each of these connections serves as a catalyst for enhancing client services and improving technology transfer.

Outside of Apple Leaf, Rob has also worked as a Field Biologist in Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, Ohio, Iowa, and Michigan.

Rob is an avid outdoors person.  Some of his favorite activities include hiking, biking, bird watching, climbing, snowshoeing, skiing, snorkeling, and sailing.

Mike Biltonen, Technical Advisor Mike is all about growing good, safe food. Mike’s love and interest in Agriculture started early as a child on his grandfather’s farm amidst the wheat fields and cattle ranches of Kansas. He has formal, Agriculture based training with Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science horticulture degrees from Virginia Tech and Cornell University, respectively. For over 25 years Mike has been growing and tailoring his own production style, and developed an in-depth knowledge of most fruit and vegetable production methods (e.g., Biodynamic, Conventional, Certified Naturally Grown, Integrated Pest Management, Integrated Fruit Management, Organic, Precision Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture, Whole Farm Management, etc.) in many regions in the United States.

Mike brings a balance of academia, industry, eco-agriculture, and environmental ethos to Apple Leaf clients. He has formal HACCP design and implementation training from Cornell University and has facilitated several Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) based food safety audits and program.

Mike’s certified as a USDA organic grower, and has a very unique and keen perspective for markets and marketing.

Mike is currently living in Upstate New York with his wife and son.

Brian Farmer, Project Lead, joined Apple Leaf in early 2007, bringing with him a wide range of experiences and skills.  For over 15 years, Brian managed and marketed his own organic produce in New York State. Brian is a pioneer in this field and is a strong advocate for locally grown produce, the use of Heirloom seed and Sustainable Agricultural practices. Brian currently works with growers on strategies for their operations including IPM scouting, alternative pest management and cultivation strategies, niche marketing and a number of other projects.

Brian is also an experienced Food Safety consultant and auditor and is certified to audit Global GAP, BRC and several brand specific schemes.

With a vested interest in music, Brian has traveled through Africa, studying tribal rhythms and instruments.  At home, he plays in various local groups in the upstate New York area, and hosts seminars on music and cooking. Brian is married and has two children.

Randall Long, Project Lead, has been working with Apple Leaf since the Spring of 2010. Randy comes from a long line of farming; his family has been farming in the Hudson valley since 1680. After growing up on his family’s 700-acre mixed vegetable farm, Randy attended SUNY Morrisville in upstate New York where he received a degree in greenhouse management and IPM. After school he worked at the plant pathology greenhouses at Cornell before returning to the Hudson Valley to work for his uncle on the family farm. For the past three years, he has been working with more progressive farming techniques, working for two years at an organic orchard as well as an IPM scout for Apple Leaf. Randy is attaining his GlobalGap certification and is qualified to perform Red Tomato audits. He is a licensed pesticide applicator, ISO:9001 lead auditor certified, HAACP trained, and has life-long experience working closely with agriculture. This year Randy will be attending Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo to attain his bachelor’s degree in fruit science, adding to the diversity of his education.

Currently Randy lives in San Luis Obispo in California and travels for Apple Leaf projects when needed and oversees the IPM program for multiple orchards and vineyards in NY and CT.