OF1219 – Organic Farmer

Soil Solarization in the Pacific Northwest

Imagine taking a math test, solving a really difficult problem, then discovering that your solution answered the next two questions as well. That’s essentially what happened to Oregon State University (OSU) plant pathologist, Jennifer Parke. She set out to solve one problem—treating a specific disease in container nurseries. When that research was successful, Parke then received a Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program grant to expand her research to new systems and solve other problems for other growers. Now, if her research keeps bearing fruit, organic vegetable growers may finally have an economical way to manage weeds other...

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Inspiring Stories of Organic Marketing Success

Meridian Orchards, in Aurora, Oregon is the longest-running certified organic hazelnut orchard in the USA. It was there that a panel of experts shared their inspiring business stories of marketing success during the lunch break of the 2019 Summer Farm Tour. The common threads binding the tales together were organic produce, organic product lines, and hazelnuts. A group of around 75 people—mostly hazelnut growers—first toured a new organic hazelnut orchard at Skydance Farm in Sherwood, Oregon. Everyone then traveled from Washington County to Marion County. A catered lunch awaited the group at Jim Birkemeier, his daughter Mary Birkemeier-Stehman and son-in-law...

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Is an Electrostatic Sprayer the Right Choice for Your Operation?

Is using an electrostatic air sprayer better for the environment than using a conventional airblast sprayer? “It’s more controlled,” which reduces drift and runoff, said Willie Hartman. Hartman is the president of On Target Spray Systems, out of Mt. Angel, Oregon. Electrostatic sprayers are also less wasteful, according to Hartman. They use less horsepower (hp)—only half as much, which cuts diesel fuel usage by half. Less spray is wasted, and it takes less tank fills, which saves labor. How does an electrostatic sprayer compare to a conventional airblast sprayer? “It uses less water. Has electrostatic wrap around. It’s still the...

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Growing Practices at the Oldest US Organic Hazelnut Orchard

In 1965, Richard Birkemeier and his family planted 40 acres of Barcelona hazelnuts—known then as filberts. In 1966, the Birkemeier family planted another 40 acres, creating Meridian Orchards in Aurora, Oregon. In 1970, the Birkemeiers bought another 40 acres. Richard managed his orchards with conventional farming methods. Richard’s son, Jim Birkemeier studied biology in college. He found it fascinating. “All the organisms are helping each other. Symbiotic relationship. It’s pretty amazing,” Jim said. When Jim took over management of the family orchards in 1995, he transitioned the operation to organic growing methods. In the mid-1990s, he went to a sustainability...

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Growing Vegetables for a Specialty Market

George Weppler is 80 now, but he still keeps a hand in Weppler Farms—a business he started in the late 1970s. The farm is situated on a 28-acre chunk of land tucked into the Cascade foothills of Brownsville, Oregon. The Calapooia River skirts the property. The land was once a walnut orchard. It’s also been a hops farm and a potato patch. And for a while before Weppler and his wife Fran bought the property in 1976, it was pasture for a Jersey milk cow. “I know the history of this land,” Weppler said. “No poison, no chemicals of any...

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Industrial Hemp—Growing, Planting, Harvesting

Marc Staunton, one of the owners of MBS Farms in Malin, Oregon, spoke at the Klamath Water Users Fall Harvest Tour. Staunton said, he and his partners aren’t experts on growing industrial hemp, and no one is, because it is such a new crop. “This is very young, budding, no pun intended, industry that is moving in the direction of modern agriculture and industrial agriculture, and we’ll say regulated agriculture,” Staunton said. There are currently 55,000 registered acres in Oregon, Staunton said, with Jackson County having the largest acreage at 13,000 and Klamath County at about 3,000 registered acres. After...

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Planting a New Organic Hazelnut Orchard

Even growers who use conventional farming methods to grow hazelnuts may find some organic methods insightful, even useful. At the Third Annual Oregon Organic Hazelnut Co-op Summer Tour, of course, it was all about growing organically. Seventy-four people signed up for the tour. West Coast Nut was a sponsor for the event, and provided black fabric bags along with a current issue of the magazine for everyone who attended. The attendees met the morning of August 14, at Skydance Farm on Old Kruger Road in Sherwood, Oregon, to tour Lori and Jerry Stole’s young organic hazelnut orchard. [caption id="attachment_569"...

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