Good Fruit Grower

August 1

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22 AUGUST 2015 Good Fruit Grower J im Baird, a fruit and vegetable grower in Washington's Columbia Basin, is a big supporter of the local food movement, which encourages people to purchase food from small, local farms that produce safe, high-quality food using sustainable practices. He believes it's important that grow- ers meet their customers and consumers know how food is produced, but the chal- lenge he faces is the sparse population in eastern Washington where he farms. His Cloudview Ecofarms produce more than thirty crops, including a wide range of vegetables and heirloom and cider apples at two locations near Royal City and Ephrata. The farm is ten miles from the small town of Royal City and 40 miles from the next nearest community. "You look around here," he says, sur- veying landscape to the south, "And three people live over there, and six people there, and two thereā€¦." Then he turns north to face the Frenchman Hills where the vista as far as the eye can see is noth- ing but farms and orchards. The growers who operate those farms are not growing their own food. They're more like commodity businessmen, he observes. At the end of the day, they go to the store to buy salads and broccoli that comes from California or Mexico. So, Baird set himself the mission of growing a wide range of fresh produce for the local population. He trucks produce to farmers' markets in Wenatchee and Ellensburg, as well as in the Columbia Basin, but prefers not to drive 150 miles to Seattle markets. "The farmers' market is really the face of agriculture," he said. "That's where people are meeting the producer. Consumers want to know what's going into the food and how it's raised." Centerpiece Ecofarm raises People want to know where their food comes from and how it's grown, says Washington grower Jim Baird. by Geraldine Warner FOOD AWARENESS Apricots are among the 30 crops produced and sold locally by Cloudview Farms in Washington's Columbia Basin.

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