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Apple picking on the Front Range? While the orchards are limited, so far the 2021 crop is not.

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Apple picking on the Front Range? While the orchards are limited, so far the 2021 crop is not.

A banner apple harvest like the one happening now across Northern Colorado is exactly what brought Mike Biwer and Will Perez out West.

In the summer of 2019, the new farmers purchased 15 cultivated acres in Ault that were covered in some 2,000 fruit trees and just starting to grow 149 different apple varieties, plus a handful each of pears and plums.

They bought their plot, now Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store, from Walt Rosenberg of Masonville Orchards, who had always planned for a U-pick operation onsite.

That first autumn, the trees were young and the harvest small, according to Biwer. By the next year, all of the apple trees had succumbed to a late-season freeze.

Finally, this growing season, the apples are “bountiful,” Biwer said. “Last year we had no fruit; this year the volume and turnout have been spectacular. … We’re kind of coming into our sweet spot, no pun intended. McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Jonathan; some of the more popular apples are coming in.”

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Cashel Keena, 3, carries his own bag of handpicked apples at Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store on Sept. 19, 2021, in Ault. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

And while the apples are plentiful, Front Rangers looking to pick them for snacking, baking and more should get out to harvest while they still can.

The three-year boom-to-bust apple cycle that Biwer and Perez experienced in their first few growing seasons is a near-sure thing along the Front Range, according to Sharon Perdue, an 18-year apple grower and owner of Ya Ya Farm & Orchard in Longmont.

“The problem we have here is we get the April storms, so one in three years I have like no crop, two in three, I have like half a crop,” Perdue said. “This year’s is the best crop I’ve had since 2012.”

“There’s just so many apples, but maybe we’ll have a freeze by (October).”

In 2014, Perdue experienced the kind of “freak” fall storm that “literally froze the trees in half. I lost 600 trees alone that year, 15 years (of work) in one night,” she explained. “That’s partly why people don’t have orchards out here.”

After buying her 8-acre farm and restoring the land to grow 118 apple varieties, primarily heirloom, Perdue began taking fruit to local farmers markets, where she encountered Midwest and East Coast transplants who were looking to pick fruit themselves.

“People were telling me how they used to pick apples as kids,” she said of her market customers. “And I thought, ‘Well, why am I (picking apples) then?”

Ya Ya’s apple harvests have since become a community affair, with Perdue getting more requests for picking than she can fill. Now U-pick reservations for the following season start coming in around the first of each year.

Customers send email requests for U-pick appointments that Perdue starts responding to, in order, by July.

If she has more availability, she’ll open appointments to walk-ins. This year, she expects to have enough apples to do just that. Unless a cold snap comes.

Mike Biwer, left, and Will Perez, ...

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

Mike Biwer, left, and Will Perez, pose for a portrait with baskets of their fresh apples inside the country store at Adam’s Apple Orchard & Country Store in Ault on Sept. 19, 2021. The two new-to-Colorado farmers bought what was formerly Masonville Orchards Ault operation back in June 2019.

Biwer and Perez are excited to open Adam’s Apple to anyone who makes the drive to Ault on the weekends, and by appointment Wednesdays through Fridays while the fruit lasts. So far, they’ve been amazed by the response.

“People want to come out and hang out in the country and be around trees,” Biwer said. “They’ll drive two to three hours just to pick apples … and it’s just overwhelming. It’s pretty cool.”

When they left the Midwest — and their careers in corporate sales and interior design, respectively — Biwer and Perez had no real agriculture experience, let alone experience living in a town of 2,000.

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Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse

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Apple once threatened Facebook ban over Mideast maid abuse

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Two years ago, Apple threatened to pull Facebook and Instagram from its app store over concerns about the platform being used as a tool to trade and sell maids in the Mideast.

After publicly promising to crack down, Facebook acknowledged in internal documents obtained by The Associated Press that it was “under-enforcing on confirmed abusive activity” that saw Filipina maids complaining on the social media site of being abused. Apple relented and Facebook and Instagram remained in the app store.

But Facebook’s crackdown seems to have had a limited effect. Even today, a quick search for “khadima,” or “maids” in Arabic, will bring up accounts featuring posed photographs of Africans and South Asians with ages and prices listed next to their images. That’s even as the Philippines government has a team of workers that do nothing but scour Facebook posts each day to try and protect desperate job seekers from criminal gangs and unscrupulous recruiters using the site.

While the Mideast remains a crucial source of work for women in Asia and Africa hoping to provide for their families back home, Facebook acknowledged some countries across the region have “especially egregious” human rights issues when it comes to laborers’ protection.

“In our investigation, domestic workers frequently complained to their recruitment agencies of being locked in their homes, starved, forced to extend their contracts indefinitely, unpaid, and repeatedly sold to other employers without their consent,” one Facebook document read. “In response, agencies commonly told them to be more agreeable.”

The report added: “We also found recruitment agencies dismissing more serious crimes, such as physical or sexual assault, rather than helping domestic workers.”

In a statement to the AP, Facebook said it took the problem seriously, despite the continued spread of ads exploiting foreign workers in the Mideast.

“We prohibit human exploitation in no uncertain terms,” Facebook said. “We’ve been combating human trafficking on our platform for many years and our goal remains to prevent anyone who seeks to exploit others from having a home on our platform.”

This story, along with others published Monday, is based on disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions were obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including the AP.

Taken as a whole, the trove of documents show that Facebook’s daunting size and user base around the world — a key factor in its rapid ascent and near trillion-dollar valuation — also proves to be its greatest weakness in trying to police illicit activity, such as the sale of drugs, and suspected human rights and labor abuses on its site.

Activists say Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, has both an obligation and likely the means to fully crack down on the abuses their services facilitate as it earns tens of billions of dollars a year in revenue.

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HelloFresh, EveryPlate and more now part of extended onion recall

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You may need to toss your onions as salmonella outbreak has been linked to the vegetable

If you haven’t already thrown out your onions, you should check your vegetables again.

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the onion recall, caused by a salmonella outbreak, to several more brands. The salmonella outbreak was first reported last week and initially only included fresh whole red, white or yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource.

The recall now includes onions from HelloFresh, EveryPlate, Potandon Produce LLC and Keeler Family Farms.

HelloFresh said in a statement on Saturday they recommended disposing of onions received during the specified time period

“HelloFresh has been informed by one of its ingredient suppliers that it is conducting a voluntary recall of its onions due to the potential presence of salmonella bacteria,” the company said. “Please discard all onions received from July 7, 2021, through Sept. 8, 2021.”

The CDC is still working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to the outbreak.

Officials said recently both individuals and businesses should check onions and if it is unknown where they are from, throw them away. It is also recommended to wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions.

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

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Just what are “The Facebook Papers,” anyway?

The Facebook Papers project represents a unique collaboration among 17 American news organizations, including The Associated Press. Journalists from a variety of newsrooms, large and small, worked together to gain access to thousands of pages of internal company documents obtained by Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager-turned-whistleblower.

A separate consortium of European news outlets had access to the same set of documents, and members of both groups began publishing content related to their analysis of the materials at 7 a.m. EDT on Monday, Oct. 25. That date and time was set by the partner news organizations to give everyone in the consortium an opportunity to fully analyze the documents, report out relevant details, and to give Facebook’s public relations staff ample time to respond to questions and inquiries raised by that reporting.

Each member of the consortium pursued its own independent reporting on the document contents and their significance. Every member also had the opportunity to attend group briefings to gain information and context about the documents.

The launch of The Facebook Papers project follows similar reporting by The Wall Street Journal, sourced from the same documents, as well as Haugen’s appearance on the CBS television show “60 Minutes” and her Oct. 5 Capitol Hill testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee.

The papers themselves are redacted versions of disclosures that Haugen has made over several months to the Securities and Exchange Commission, alleging Facebook was prioritizing profits over safety and hiding its own research from investors and the public.

These complaints cover a range of topics, from its efforts to continue growing its audience, to how its platforms might harm children, to its alleged role in inciting political violence. The same redacted versions of those filings are being provided to members of Congress as part of its investigation. And that process continues as Haugen’s legal team goes through the process of redacting the SEC filings by removing the names of Facebook users and lower-level employees and turns them over to Congress.

The Facebook Papers consortium will continue to report on these documents as more become available in the coming days and weeks.

“AP regularly teams up with other news organizations to bring important journalism to the world,” said Julie Pace, senior vice president and executive editor. “The Facebook Papers project is in keeping with that mission. In all collaborations, AP maintains its editorial independence.”

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