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Froerer Farms Inc., the parent company of Owyhee Produce, has made a new land acquisition adjacent to the Snake River in Oregon’s Treasure Valley. This purchase is a landmark moment for the Froerer family and an affirmation of its commitment to provide leadership in sustainable farming practices. Dedication to sustainability empowers Froerer Farms to grow and ship safe, high quality and nutritious food, while reducing negative environmental impact, 365 days a year.
Froerer Farms will be the second owner of this land since German born immigrant and entrepreneur, Fred J. Kiesel, originally homesteaded it in 1890.
With this acquisition Froerer Farms will have just shy of 4000 acres in production. The additional 1300 acres will allow the farm to increase onion plantings to 800 acres, a 200-acre increase. It will also allow for similar increases in plantings of most other crops grown on the farm, while assuring a 5-7 year crop rotation. Froerer Farms currently raises asparagus, beans, beets, corn, mint, onions, peas, and wheat.
“By rotating our land to onions and other crops only one time every 5 years or so, we are building higher organic matter into the soil. This way we use less water, few chemicals and fertilizers and can virtually eliminate fumigation,” said Craig Froerer, CEO of Froerer Farms, Inc. “A better crop rotation means less of an environmental impact, and frankly, to us, that is just common sense.”
In addition to the environmental benefits of crop rotation, Froerer Farms will care for the soil and help immunize its carbon footprint by using the organic soil product, Terra Fresh One, which helps to lower the farms overall input costs while boosting yields and increasing the quality of its produce. The farm is also working to create a better habitat for various waterfowl on the new land. Ponds have been added to increase wetlands available to the birds and other wildlife.
“It is great to share with people how our family runs a modern agri-business by being careful how we impact Mother Nature,” stated Shay Myers, General Manager of Owyhee Produce. “We are very excited to have the opportunity to work with our farm in marketing and packing for the fresh market. It is our goal to prove that there is a difference in what you buy and who you buy it from. On the store shelf my onions may look like the next, but they all come with different consequences and impacts. Impacts to the your environments, your health, and your future”.
The Froerer family wants consumers to know that not all onions are equal. There’s a difference not only in quality and taste, but also in the farmers commitment to being a responsible steward of the earth. The acquisition of this land demonstrates how Froerer Farms and Owyhee Produce continuously seize opportunities to make their facilities and processes more sustainable: You can taste the difference.
When I was in my teens, I thought I had the best life there was. I thought that farmers were great. In fact, it wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles at the age of 20 that I realized how “un-cool” being a farmer was. I would tell people I was a farmer and they would just kind of look at me and smile, as if I didn’t have a clue or anything.
It wasn’t until I started asking people who reacted that way, WHY that was their reaction? The usual response - “so you have a few cows, chickens, and a red barn, that is… great.”
You see, for them, food came from the grocery store and what I did was more of a hobby than a way to feed people. Because of that, during college I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a farmer. And I sure wasn’t going to tell people that’s what I wanted to be.
Then after college, when I had decided to come back to the farm, I started calling myself an agri-entrepreneur so people wouldn’t look down on what I did for a living as much.
It has taken me a long time to get here, but the fact is what I do for a living is actually pretty cool. I am not sure that “farmer” really alludes to the reality of what I do for a living either, at least not to an urban dweller, but it suits me.
It suits me because the other name I could call myself is “Agri-businessman”. To the same Angeleno (that’s what we call folks from L.A.) who looked at me blankly when I called myself a farmer, now as participant in agri-business I looked like the destroyer of Mother Nature. The word agri-businessman just had a negative feel to it. My tractors may as well have been the machines in Dr. Suess’ Lorax that destroyed entire trees just to make a single toothpick. So you see, being a farmer may have it downfalls, but so do the alternatives. For now I would just like to communicate a little about what a “real farmer” does and let you help me decide what to call myself.
Today I run a business, along with other members of my family, which does 10 million dollars in gross annual sales. We employ nearly 60 full time employees and we farm over 3700 acres. We also drip irrigate a large percentage of our crops, saving 30% of Mother Nature’s Water, we rotate our 8 distinct crops on a 5-7 year rotation; this builds humus and reduces erosion, we have updated to tier 4 engines in our tractors, reducing fuel consumption by 25%. I could keep going, but I think you get the point.
I run a big business but I try and make decisions like the guy with “…a few cows, chickens, and a red barn, that’s it.” So what does that make me?
-- Shay Myers