Meet Your Farmer: Columbia Basin Growers
On the other side of Othello, Brian Andersen of Andersen Organics showed us around the packing shed where his onions, shallots, potatoes and asparagus are packed. Andersen onions, featured regularly in Full Circle boxes during their season, are finished until the new crop comes in, except for a few cippolinis. The asparagus packing line was humming and potato seed was being cut and treated with fir bark to absorb moisture before planting. Although a much larger operation than ours, the seed-cutting machine looked like something we’d have, and was momentarily shut down due to a mechanical problem. Farmers share the same woes – especially mid-size farmers who use smaller-scale equipment from decades past. Brian Andersen is a key figure in the Columbia Basin, linking farmers together in cooperative production and packing agreements which further the cause of transitioning conventional crops to organic production.
Late in the day, we found ourselves far to the south in Eltopia, where Allen Schreiber’s 100-acre research and production operation is located. Beneath intermittent showers, we drove between fields where organic eggplant and 13 varieties of specialty melons are soon to be transplanted amid the Schreiber family’s field trials and CSA crops. The asparagus line was in full swing as we visited, and when half past four rolled around, it was time for the Friday “happy half-hour”, where workers stop for pizza and a beer on the clock to exchange feedback and celebrate the week’s work. We hope to see the fruits of these and other hardworking hands in our boxes in the coming weeks and throughout the season.
What are you looking forward to this spring and summer? Let us know in the comments below. Want to read more about our farm and other farms we work with? Visit our Food Sources page.