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Orchard View celebrates a century of the sweetest cherries

Orchard View brings sweetest cherry crop to stores in 100th year
Orchard View Cherries at sunset (CNW Group/Orchard View Cherries)

THE DALLES, Ore., June 19, 2023 – Good things come with time, and this year’s cherry season is no exception, especially for Orchard View BB #:302562 Cherries whose centennial crop is in local stores now.

“Since we began picking last week, our trees are showing potential for a very nice crop with excellent quality,” said Brenda Thomas, Orchard View Cherries’ president. “We are excited that our 100th anniversary season shows so much promise, with peak availability for July 4 festivities.”

Orchard View was established by Thomas’ great-grandparents in 1923. Over the years the operation evolved to specialize in the true craftsmanship of cherries — and only cherries. Thomas’ team now manages over 3,500 rain-shadowed acres along the Columbia River, with cherries planted in microclimates suited to each variety. Growing both red and blush cherries, each is carefully staged to assure the best cherry available at any given time is the one delivered to stores.

Thomas credits the enduring success of the farm to the efforts of the families who have worked alongside her own to bring cherries to the market each year.

“Our cherry family includes many in our community who join us as we grow, harvest and pack,” she said. “A lot of expertise and a lot of heart goes into producing what we believe are the world’s best cherries. We are grateful for everyone who contributes, from our neighbors in The Dalles to those who travel to work with us each season for the eight-week harvest.”

But there’s one person in particular whose passion for cherries and commitment to education has shaped not only his own life but the lives of those around him. J. Carmen Gamez Garcia, known by friends far and wide as Carmelo, and known for his signature wide-brimmed hat, is a self-made cherry grower, community advocate and Orchard View’s own field manager. “Carmelo is an exceptional representative for the mid-Columbia cherry community,” shared Thomas.

Born and raised in Mexico, Gamez moved to Oregon with a third-grade education when he began picking cherries in the mid-1970s. There he met Mel Omeg and Bob Bailey, Thomas’ father, whose families have been farming adjacent properties for nearly 60 years. The Omeg family partnered with Orchard View in 2018 to bring the best of The Dalles’ cherries from its multi-generation growers. Gamez’s dedication to learning and the invaluable guidance of these two mentors paved the way for his deep understanding of cherries and their cultivation.

His expertise and willingness to share his own knowledge have made Gamez a respected figure in the community, “If someone is looking for advice, I always do my best to help them out. It’s what my parents taught me,” he shared. His father, bearing his same name, and mother, Maria Martha Garcia Luna, engrained the power of education into his being. Not only in his professional life, but personally too, participating in various school board and education initiatives. Gamez believes in the positive impact it can have on individuals and communities. He has always been committed to sharing his knowledge and experiences, serving as a mentor and advisor to aspiring cherry growers and community members seeking guidance.

Gamez’s commitment to cherries and his community manifested in the purchase of his own orchard in 2010. The Dalles holds a special place in his heart, as he believes it offers one of the most conducive climates for cherries. From the optimal chill hours to the fluctuating temperatures of hot nights and cold days, every element aligns harmoniously, resulting in the best cherries nature has to offer. Since its inception, Gamez’s crop has been packed in the Orchard View brand.

As Orchard View celebrates its 100th anniversary and Gamez reflects on his extraordinary journey, their stories intertwine, representing the legacy and passion of cherry growing in Oregon. Both exemplify the dedication, hard work, and commitment required to produce the finest cherries and contribute to the flourishing cherry industry.

The celebration of a century of cherries and the invaluable contributions of those who have shaped the industry will be savored by all who indulge in the fruit of their labor.

You can find delectably sweet Orchard View Cherries locally at Fred Meyer and Zupan’s Markets.