Good Fruit Grower

May 1

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Page 45 of 47

46 MAY 1, 2015 GOOD FRUIT GROWER LAST BITE More Young Growers at Chelsea Durfey grower / Sunnyside, Washington age / 27 crops / Organic cherries, pears, and juice grapes; produces compost and biofuel business / Natural Selection Farms other experience / Manages organic and GlobalGAP certifi cations for the farm. Geology degree from Whitman College. PLAY scan to watch the interview " " " Why did you return to the family farm? My path has been so crazy. Once it was time for me to enter the workforce after college, the paid geologists jobs tended to be working for the natural gas wells—and that's where I ended up working. I found that I loved the fast-paced environment and the science to work the wells, but I compared my work to all of the sustainable practices my dad was doing at home. I mean, he was making biofuels, creating compost, and farming organically, and he was able to do it on a large scale. So I thought, "Why am I doing this job, when Dad is doing this? I'm going backwards." So I returned to the family farm. When I did, I guess I fell in love with my community again. I like my town and the people that we work with. There's not a better industry to work in. What things helped you when you came back? I've had so many mentors, older and younger farmers that have taken me under their wings. They've taught me about pruning, soil biology, bees, products, and applications, and there's so much yet for me to learn. I've been reading every book I can get my hands on, whether they are about microbiology, or about plant physiology, or about busi- ness—there's so much to be explored. What challenges do you face in organic farming? Of course we don't have the quick defense mechanisms against threats that conventional growers have, but we again rely on science using monitoring systems and consultants to keep our eyes open to what's going on in and above the ground. Then we make those recommended changes gradu- ally, from adding benefi cial fl owers that attract particular insects to different soil amendments to help stimulate what's going on under the surface. We are looking at the orchard as a system and not expecting change to come quickly. It's a whole different frame of mind, a whole new way of thinking. by TJ Mullinax More from this interview and other Young Growers at " This is not a static industry — we are continuing to grow and improve. SPONSORED BY

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