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Giving Back - Asparagus Style

Ashley Narvaiz - Saturday, June 17, 2017

Over the course of this asparagus season, Owyhee Produce has donated more than 30,000 lbs of Ida-Spears to senior centers and food banks in both Idaho and Oregon. It’s just our way to say “thank-you” to all of YOU. 

It wasn’t that long ago that our family farm was at a crossroads – we’d been growing asparagus and shipping it to Syneca, WA to be canned for years. When the cannery closed we had to decide whether to stop growing our Ida-Spears – and lose acres and acres of crops just about to come into maturity – or to take the risk to start fresh packing our own asparagus. We decided to take the plunge.


Fast forward to the last three years. We’ve experienced incredible growth when it comes to our Ida-Spear operations. Our crops are settling into their full maturity (and we’ve expanded the acreage), we’ve installed an automated packing line, and we’re scrambling to find enough hands to keep up with the number of spears coming in.


For our family farm – this success is overwhelming. We know that it has come directly from the support we’ve received from the industry, and from our awesome community. We have so many people in the Eastern Oregon/Idaho area encouraging and supporting us to keep reaching new heights. And that is why our family farm makes a point to give back to the community that has given so much to us.


  



Recipe: Bloody Mary Pickled Asparagus

Ashley Narvaiz - Wednesday, June 07, 2017

We are always looking for delicious ways to prepare our homegrown produce. With the fresh asparagus season being so quick, what better way to enjoy our Ida-Spears than to can and preserve them for months of enjoyment! We tried this recipe for Bloody Mary Pickled Asparagus and couldn't wait to share it with you!



Ingredients:


2 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon canning and pickling salt

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 teaspoons celery seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon pepper

2 pounds thick asparagus, trimmed to measure 6 inches long

2 (1/4 inch thick) round lemon slices



Directions:


1. Bring vinegar, water, tomato juice, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, horseradish, celery seeds, pepper flakes, and pepper to boil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Carefully add asparagus to vinegar mixture with tips facing same direction. Return to brief boil, then immediately remove from heat. 


2. Meanwhile, place two 1-quart jars in bowl and place under hot running water until heated through.  1 to 2 minutes; shake dry. 


3. Using tongs, carefully pack asparagus into hot jars, tips facing up. Using funnel and ladle, pour hot brine over asparagus to cover, and gently press lemon slice into each jar until just submerged. 



4. Let jars cool to room temperature, cover with lids, and refrigerate for at least 5 days before serving. (Asparagus can be refrigerated for up to 1 month; flavor will continue to mature over time.)


**From our friends at Foolproof Preserving. There are some awesome #onion and #mint recipes in their book too! Check it out: http://foolproofpreserving.com/



Where the Asparagus Ends

Gabrielle Nelson - Wednesday, July 08, 2015

This year Froerer Farms had their longest growing season on record for asparagus. The Froerer family started growing asparagus in the 1990’s. During the past two decades the usual season had an average of 40 packing days, but this year Owyhee Produce fresh packed for 57 days. Farm Manager Craig Froerer said, “The crop started earlier because of warmer weather. The youngest fields are in their fourth year, and were heavily picked this year. In three years they will be in full production. Over the next three years [the asparagus’s] health and maturity will improve.” In other words there is an upward trend in asparagus which doesn’t show signs of slowing.

“All I equate [asparagus] to is a lot of hard work,” Packing Manager Robin Froerer explained. About 100 pickers harvested over 140 acres twice a day. For the first time ever Froerer Farms had to deal with a shortage of labor on the packaging side of business. Despite this set back the Owyhee Produce and IDA Spear merger has flourished. Since the January 2015 merger Owyhee Produce’s ability to provide benefits to their joined customers has increased. More employees are available to take customer calls and questions. Also, there are more employees to help with the logistics of shipping.

              This year Froerer Farms’ asparagus was enjoyed country wide: from Seattle to Florida. Some shipments traveled as far as Canada, but some produce always stays close to home. Local sales make any season better. “We’ve had great community and local support” Robin said. Because Froerer Farms sells to locals they reduce product waste. Also, Froerer Farms extensively gives back to the community that supports them.   “We have donated to every foodbank in the Treasure Valley,” Robin said, Froerer Farms has also donated to Meals on Wheels and nearby foodbanks in Star, Payette, Ontario, Nysa, Vale, and Parma. Some of the donated produce will also go to Portland Steve Morningstar from Western Idaho Community Action Partnership Incorporated (WICAP), said [Froerer Farms] has donated the most fresh produce of any local farm so far this summer. He is hopeful for more donations later. The asparagus, “helps families eat healthier and is a nice treat,” he said. WICAP has received asparagus from Froerer Farms since May. In June alone WICAP compiled 302 food boxes for 283 families. In addition to the food boxes Froerer Farms’ donations helped provided fresh produce to 405 adults, 220 children, and 95 seniors. Remarking on the end of this year’s asparagus season Craig Froerer said, “Production for the future looks very promising.” 

 

 

 

US (OR): Unusually early start green asparagus season

Shay Myers - Friday, April 10, 2015
“Our asparagus season is off to the earliest start in 25 years,” said Robin Froerer with Owyhee Produce. “We’ve experienced unseasonably warm weather and already started picking in March,” Froerer added. In an average season, picking starts between April 15 and April 20. “Although we’ve been picking for a few weeks, volumes are still light. This is mainly caused by last week’s cold spell when we lost some of our production to frost.” As the weather warms up again, volumes will become heavier. 



High prices
“Prices are fantastic for the growers,” commented Froerer. At the moment, they are about $50 - $56 for a 28 lb. box. The same time last year, prices were not bad, but came out quite a bit lower with $46 - $48 per 28 lb. box. “Once more volume comes on, prices will start to come down. We are in the same production window as Washington State and as soon as they come into full production, we will notice a drop in prices,” said Froerer. Asparagus is a labour-intensive crop and getting it picked is an issue. “It is a 12-20 year crop and because of its labor intensity many growers throughout the US are not replacing it and have taken it out in recent years.“



Owyhee Produce ships its asparagus all over the United States to mainstream retailers like Albertson’s, Winco’s and Walmart. Additionally, the company also is a supplier to the foodservice industry.

For more information:
Robin Froerer
Owyhee Produce
Tel: (+1) 541-610-0410

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