Those growing fresh fruits and vegetables in Oregon pride themselves on sustainability and being stewards of the land. This couldn’t resonate more than in the true longevity of those working here.
According to Anne Marie Moss, communications director for the Oregon Farm Bureau, the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program honored 1,227 farms and ranches for remaining operational and within the same family for at least 100 years.
Of these, 46 boast sesquicentennial status for reaching the 150-year milestone. “Now that’s sustainable by any measure,” Moss says.
Unfortunately, though, Moss points out that “as older farmers retire over the next two decades, over 10 million acres, or 64 percent of Oregon’s agricultural land, will pass to new owners. Thoughtful succession planning is more important than ever, now that the average age of Oregon farmers is 60 years—up from 55 years in 2002.”
Modern technology is key in bringing ag into the future, fueling practices to conserve water, minimize soil erosion, apply nutrients precisely, and manage crops for pest and disease pressures.
“Oregon’s lands, water, air, livestock, and wildlife all benefit from the environmental stewardship of farmers and ranchers,” says Moss, but “with changing market and environment conditions, ag producers must be able to innovate to stay viable.”
Caruso Produce, Inc., BB #:100737 already has an eye to realizing a sustainable future with construction of its new warehouse this spring in Canby and hopes to relocate operations there late this year.
“With the aid of the Oregon Energy trust, we will become the greenest, most sustainable warehouse in the Northwest,” Sam Caruso, president, says.
The new building will employ breakthroughs in refrigeration which use clean carbon dioxide systems instead of Freon. The roofing system is designed to retain temperature, thus using less energy.
“We’re looking at everything from door seals to garbage disposals to recycling. We’re challenging our architect to design a building that provides natural light without sacrificing energy,” says Caruso.
Although he admits it will be more costly up front, these details will save energy and money in the future.
This is multi-part feature adapted from the Oregon spotlight in the January/February 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.