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Ask A Farmer at the Smithsonian

23 Jan

It was a LONG time ago that dad and I took off for a very quick (less than 36 hr) trip back to Washington DC to speak at the Smithsonian Museum for Ask a Farmer.  It was for the US Farmer and Rancher Alliance event, discussing food through history!  And here…finally I have the video from that day!

The panel was all about generational farming.  I was lucky to sit on the stage with a group of awesome farmers!  Check it out if you have time!  And feel free to share so more people can hear from some of us long time generational farmers!

Orchard Work Continues

9 Jan

This time of year it sure feels like we spend a whole lot of time out in our hazelnut orchards!  Last week during all the freezing weather, while we were flailing, we were also knocking trees over.  Which may seem strange, but it was time!final-18

Filbert or hazelnut trees need a certain amount of room to grow.  The sun needs to get down into the branches and those branches need to have room to stretch out in order for them to produce to their highest potential.  Our trees have been in a constant cycle of removal for about the past 8 years.  We have done it in cycles mostly because of the windows of opportunities that you get, when we have the labor, and also when we have the time to get this job

Well last week we took out the last trees that needed to be removed, and I can thankfully say, while this job isn’t over yet, it’s well on it’s way.  I’ll say here that one of the hardest things about tree removal is all mental.  When the prices are good for nuts you want to leave the trees in, knowing that for the first few years you will have a dramatic decrease in yield until the trees that remain can catch back up.  So more nuts, is more money.  But then when the prices are down you think, “Shoot I can’t take the trees out this year, we need all the nuts we can get because the price is so low.”  You see what I mean…it’s a battle.  So this year while harvesting we noticed that the yields were dropping in the areas we hadn’t thinned, the trees needed the room, it was time (no matter what the price!).  final-21

Here is a video of how the thinning was done.  We planted originally on a square grid of 18′ by 18′.  Then we thinned, or pushed over the trees on a diagonal.  Leaving a diamond pattern of 18′ by 36′.  This will give room for the tree branches to stretch, and the sun to get into the canopy.

Meanwhile we are also out pruning suckers that grow from the base of the tree, and pruning out blight.  Basically from the day we finish harvest in the fall until spring, there isn’t a day that we don’t have someone working out in those trees.

Next step will be pulling those trees out of the orchard, which is another blog post in itself. And hopefully not a too muddy of one. Who knows, maybe more freezing weather will help us get that job done with little mess too!

Which Farmer should you Believe?

4 Nov

I have many people come up to me and say, “I vote with farmers.” Which is great, with all that we do for Oregon’s economy, with all that agriculture provides, it’s no wonder that people appreciate the direction that we want legislation and political races to go.  So what happens when there are conflicting farmers out there.  Unfortunately in Oregon this happens a lot more than I care to admit.  Many times it’s not as public as campaign commercials running back to back, usually it’s done more in the halls of the legislature.

But this year, Measure 97 has once again, brought farmer vs. farmer to confuse and perhaps persuade a certain direction.  I will say here that it’s no surprise to anyone my stance on Measure 97, I’m a NO vote, and I urge you be be as well.  Below is my commercial giving a very short and very small piece of the puzzle of why I believe so strongly that this is not the right sales tax for our state.

But then, you may see another ad, one with a farmer named Don Schoen.

He appears to be a hazelnut farmer by all camera angles provided.  A good friend of mine and fellow agvocate, Anna Scharf did a little researching however and we found some interesting information.  Information that even Mr. Schoen might be interested to read…here are Anna’s findings…

Farmer Don Schoen a farmer from Hillsboro who has about 3,600 hazelnut trees is quoted on the save Helvetia website as saying “My farm is smack-dab in the middle of the proposed urban reserves….. We export about 35% of our crop – the rest is bought by local companies, such as Burgerville, for their hazelnut milkshakes and Oregon Bread, for their hazelnut bread.  I need the certainty of rural reserves in order to continue to invest in a long-term crop like hazelnuts.” (Source-

When Mr. Schoen is advocating for a Yes vote on Measure 97, maybe he should remember that it is NOT just “out of state big business (Monsanto and Wells Fargo)” that will pay; it is also Burgerville who will be TAXED on their gross sales. “All Burgerville locations are within an 80-mile (129-km) radius, mostly in the Portland metropolitan area, and the chain had annual revenue of around $75 million in 2010” (source – Wikipedia). Their “fair 2.5% TAX” would be ~$1.875M.  Oregon Bread (which is produced by Franz Bakery), which Mr. Schoen states also purchases his hazelnuts, is a fourth generation, family-owned baking company based in Portland, OR since 1906.  They are also considered a “Big business” that will be forced to pay their “fair 2.5% TAX” on their over $25M in annual sales. Where will Burgerville and Oregon Bread come up with the money? Consumers of course! Measure 97 the hidden sales tax on consumers!
Get the facts, get educated and VOTE NO on Measure 97

So there you go…farmer vs. farmer, but I’m hoping that you all will vote with this farmer and many others across the state and say NO to Measure 97!!



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