Good Fruit Grower

October 2016

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Page 45 of 47

46 OCTOBER 2016 GOOD FRUIT GROWER LAST BITE More Young Growers at Monica Libbey grower / Manson, Washington age / 33 crops / Apples, cherries and pears business / Rocky and Christy Orchard family background / Both sides of Monica's family have long histories farming in the Chelan Valley, in Manson and long ago in Stehekin, Washington. Her parents are Rocky Libbey and Christy (Buckner) Libbey. " " " " How did you get your start? I grew up in Manson, living on orchard property my entire life. I went off to college at Western Washington University. Growing up, I never thought I'd want to be an orchardist. I worked all the summer jobs helping out in the orchard and I thought it was terribly boring, so I got my environmental policy degree and started working for the City of Wenatchee. At that point I decided I didn't like the offi ce. I wanted to be doing something in agriculture. Eventually it fi nally clicked — "Why not just come back home and work in the orchard?" Why return to the farm? There were a lot of different factors. One, I really love being outside. It's good that I don't mind being on a computer because nowadays there's a lot of computer work required of orcharding. Two, I think agriculture is incredibly important and provides a value to society. Three, I loved growing up in Manson and Lake Chelan, and I've been a little saddened by what I see as a trend happening here. A lot of the orchards are getting pulled out and getting turned into 5-acre houses, second homes. So, I kept thinking, how can this trend change? What better way to try to put my effort into stopping this trend than by diving into my heritage? The only way I could do that was by coming back to farm. If the generations to come can come in and buy the orchards and continue farming, that'll make me very happy. What are your current challenges? One of the more intriguing things I've been learning is our chemical thinning program. It's a science; however, there's an art to it, too. Every block is different. Dad knows the differences, be- cause he's been farming them for so long. Right now, the chemical thinning is one program that I'm still trying to glean information about. The how, when and what he decides to do is so full of variables. Do you have any tips for young growers? I try to keep a daily journal of what we're doing, or when we've calibrated something, or when we do certain things through the season. Those notes are going to help me going forward. " Looking back at my �irst year... I'm not having to reinvent the wheel each season. PLAY scan to watch the interview SPONSORED BY by TJ Mullinax More from this interview and other Young Growers at

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