Barb and Fritz purchased their 60-acre hazelnut orchard in 1998, initiating a move from the cowboy country of Eastern Washington where they’d spent the last 12 years, to the orchard located in the Willamette Valley of Western Oregon. They had no prior nut farming experience but had always lived close to the land. They’ve always been a little nutty, and “hazelnut farmers” was a title that just seemed to fit.
As fresh farmers, they were lucky to have support from their extended family while learning the nut farming process. Uncle Ray, an experienced farmer, helped them through their first harvest. This kind of family support continues today. Grandpa Newton is an occasional tractor driver, Grandpa Foulke helps prune, and both grandmothers provide food during the madness of the annual hazelnut harvest.
By packaging their hazelnuts themselves and selling them directly to consumers, they eliminate the middle man in the process of getting the nuts from the orchard to your fork. This results in both a better price for the consumer and a better share of the profit for the farmer, not to mention freshness and flavor that is unmatched.
Their orchard is managed according to integrated production guidelines developed at Oregon State University. They consult with a horticultural extension agent and conscientiously practice earth-friendly farming.