Family is and always will be the foundation of Owyhee Produce. This July, Country Folk Grower featured a story on Owyhee Produce and the many generations that have graced this farm. We are grateful to be featured in this awesome publication and are excited to share with you another glimpse into our family and our farm.
Family legacy continues at Owyhee Produce - By Sally Colby
When a young soldier returned from the Korean War in 1954, he decided to start farming on the side with his family. By the mid 1960s, that farmer, Owen Froerer, was farming on his own. Today, his grandson Shay Myers has taken the helm as general manager of Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR.
“We started with about 30 to 50 acres and today we farm about 4,000 acres,” said Myers, comparing the farm’s start to the operation today. “What gave my grandfather a leg up in the early 1970s was mint. He put in a mint distillery and starting distilling mint for pure mint oil.” Myers says his grandfather has always looked for opportunity, and stepped forward to take advantage of the precise geographic area required to grow mint commercially.
Through the 1980s, the facility was the largest mint distillery in Oregon. Although they are no longer the largest mint grower, Owyhee Produce harvests 800 acres of mint and supplies mint oil for a wide variety of mint-flavored products including chewing gum and toothpaste. “It’s really a specialty crop,” said Myers. “Mint is harvested twice a year, similar to the way hay is harvested. It’s cut in windrows, chopped and blown into sealable trucks that have an external heat source. The mint is taken to the Owyhee distillery for the steam extraction process that results in mint oil.”