Farmers dispute about use of Apple Hill name

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APPLE HILL, Calif. (KTXL) -- Dozens of farms and wineries draw crowds to Apple Hill every fall. But some of the growers on the hill said one orchard is trying to take over the Apple Hill name and keep the profit for themselves.

The issue centers on social media.

When you type Apple Hill on Facebook or Instagram it takes you to a page that may look like it represents all of Apple Hill. The grower’s association said it’s misleading and worries it’s drawing customers away from the dozens of other farms in the area.

Marketing Director for the Apple Hill Grower’s Association Christine Delfino Noonan said a local farm is trying to use the Apple Hill name for its own benefit, rather than marketing the whole area.

“The only threat is we want to be able to market all of ourselves versus just one or two farms,” Noonan said.

Noonan said the grower’s association wants to represent all 50 farms.

The Apple Hill handles on Facebook and Instagram are run by Boa Vista Orchards, forcing the grower’s association to use the name Apple Hill Official.

“Having the two is just a little confusing,” Noonan said.

Customers have taken to Reddit to warn others about the different accounts and many seem surprised.

“It’s a little sneaky because I thought they were like a group of farmers,” customer Abby Williams said.

Mason Visman, whose family owns Boa Vista, said they’re not trying to deceive anyone.

He declined an on-camera interview but sent FOX40 a statement, that can be read in full at the bottom, saying in part:

"After discussing my dreams with a trademark attorney and being informed no one person or agency can have sole rights to promote a geographic location such as Apple Hill, I embarked on my journey! As the years progressed, I was met with hostility and anger from the Apple Hill Growers Association who wrongly think they have sole ownership of the words ‘Apple Hill’…"

Visman said he's trying to promote the entire area and his marketing venture has been great for all the farmers.

Some customers see his point.

“There’s an apple farm like every ten feet. So, people may come up here for that one specific one and see so much more,” customer Sandi Scheiber said.

The grower’s association disagrees and is suing the Visman family over trademark infringement.

The lawsuit, filed in 2017, is still pending.

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