Keeping it Green: Grow it, and they will come
(Editor’s Note: This article is the seventh in a series exploring professional opportunities for Penn State Extension agricultural educators during the 2019 summer.)
By TOM BUTZLER
Day 2 in our horticulture tours of Oregon’s Willamette Valley started off at Oregon State University’s North Willamette Research and Extension Center. After a couple hours, the group headed to Bauman’s Farm Market to see how research has worked its way into the private sector over the decades.
Bauman Farm started back in 1895 and has evolved over the past century from field production centered around agronomic crops to heavy emphasis on fruit and vegetables. But their business goes well beyond field work.
The farm has become one of Oregon’s largest agritourism spots where visitors come to partake in local agriculture. Over the years they created a farm market, built several greenhouses for their hanging baskets (create over 10,000), and put up a bakery to feed the masses (gives them a chance to use a lot of their farm product for the menu).
A portion of their agritourism effort is education and they open their farm to several thousand school kids every year for field trips. But they attract more than just school kids as their fall festival — chock full of activities and food — brings in over 100,000 visitors in several weekends.
Over the generations, their family members are encouraged to bring ideas to the farm to enhance the market and build new attractions. It was this constant youthful invigoration that allowed Christine Walter (Bauman family member) to create her niche on the farm.
Christine, like most farm kids, wanted an experience away from the farm (what kid gets excited about waking up before the sun rises to start picking berries?) and enrolled in a biochemistry program at Lewis & Clark University. While some farm kids never return, others cannot resist the draw. But what was she to do?
Christine walked our group through her discovery process. She had started to dabble with hard cider making on the laundry room floor. At the same time, family research showed that her great-grandfather used leftover apples on the farm to make batches of hard cider in the early1900s. Armed with her newfound hobby, biochemistry background, and family history the farm launched Bauman’s Cider.
And maybe she really didn’t resent those early morning berry harvests as a kid. Several of the ciders are produced with farm berries. Their loganberry cider has won several awards and marionberries are utilized in the “All the Berries” cider. Those two berries are not readily grown in Pennsylvania; loganberries are a cross between raspberries and blackberries while the marionberry is a blackberry developed by the USDA breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University.
Their effort has gained traction and a following. In fact, they now hold a hard cider festival at the farm where 20 cideries converge to offer testing to a curious public.
This will be a nice transition into our final stop on Day 2 as we continue the theme of alcohol production with a visit to Crosby Hop Farm.
Tom Butzler is a horticulture educator with the Pennsylvania State University Cooperative Extension Service and may be reached at 570-726-0022.