Tuesday, 23 October 2012


From Fresno in California, I had to drive to Madras in Oregon. It is an eleven or so hour drive, and as I didn't leave Fresno until around 3:30 in the afternoon, Redding was about as far as I was going to get in one day. The journey through the sunset north of Sacramento will stay with me for a long time, golden rays filtered through the irrigation spray as the scenery changed and the light faded. The dusk was met in the middle of a huge rice production area, and darkness as farming gave way to forest and the promise of hills and ranges.
A full stomach and full tank of gas the next morning made for a timely start to the next six hours of discovery. A gain in altitude and reduction in population was a welcome change, some passes are over 5000 feet, before breaking onto small irrigated plains, south of the city of Bend.
Arriving at Marty and Nancy Richards property, Fox Hollow Ranch, it was a delight to stand and stretch, and although we had not met before, I was able to relax.
A full farm tour and associated conversation with a specialised, very particular, and highly successful seed, peppermint and Lucerne (alfalfa ) producer was the perfect tonic for the long drive.
The irrigation scheme, developed in the 1930s, covering around 60,000 acres, has seen many changes. Lack of farm scale has driven the need for innovation and the need to seek out specialised markets. Seed production fits the area well, onions, at one time garlic, and now hybrid carrot production is very important. I was also fortunate enough to visit a producer growing and storing 6 varieties of seed potatoes. Richard Macy grew processing potatoes, then fresh market, and now seed, looking for a higher margin and less volatility with each step.
A flight in a Cessna was the perfect way to get the full picture of the district, the day was clear and still, perfect to see the agriculture and a lap around Mt Jefferson and the foothills.

No comments:

Post a Comment