Profile #2: Dave Cooper

Hear this program by clicking on the podcast button below.

08 28 13 Dave Cooper 150 Oregon Cherry GrowersBio: Dave Cooper is a fourth generational farmer — his grandfather and father both were part of early cooperatives that formed Oregon Cherry Growers — with 300 acres of sweet cherries and 25 acres of pears in the Columbia Basin. One of Dave’s first jobs in the orchard at age 12, was to record the weight of cherry boxes for his father. Those weight records were used to determine every pickers earnings for the season. Now his daughter Stacey manages the day-to-day operation of the farm, and Dave acts as an advisor. As the current Oregon Cherry Growers board chairman, he supports the co-op’s efforts to invest in new ways to steward the land, test new techniques with cherry varieties, expand markets and support growers.

Oregon Cherry Growers Extra: Cherry Garcia from Ben & Jerry’s

 

Just a few of the people lined up to get free Cherry Garcia ice cream with cherries from Oregon Cherry Growers Wednesday at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Chamber Manager Lisa Farquharson.

Just a few of the people lined up to get free Cherry Garcia ice cream with cherries from Oregon Cherry Growers Wednesday at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Chamber Manager Lisa Farquharson.

Tiffany of the Ben & Jerry's crew hands out a Cherry Garcia sample to a happy customer. Rodger Nichols photo.

Tiffany of the Ben & Jerry’s crew hands out a Cherry Garcia sample to a happy customer. Rodger Nichols photo.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream truck stopped at The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce Wednesday to dispense free samples of Cherry Garcia Ice Cream. Ben & Jerry’s officials said Cherry Garcia is their best-selling flavor and that a stop in The Dalles is like a homecoming, since the grower-owned cooperative Oregon Cherry Growers have been supplying the cherries for Ben & Jerry’s for nearly a decade. Oregon Cherry Growers President and CEO Tim Ramsey was on hand for the event and was kind enough to consent to a short interview for our Business Beat program sponsored by The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Goldendale Chamber o
f Commerce. Listen by clicking on the grey podcast bar below.

Update #10: Kay Ericksen


Kay Ericksen croppedKay Ericksen is a local cherry farmer and serves on the Culture Trust Board in The Dalles for Wasco County. Together with her husband, Dan Ericksen, they manage more than 90 acres of cherry orchards, including early market varieties like Bings and Chelans. While Dan tends to the orchards, Kay oversees the office side of the business, including payroll, recordkeeping and regulatory requirements. When she’s not handling the administrative side of cherry-growing, she enjoys spending time with her granddaughters, scrapbooking and traveling.


You can hear our interview with her by clicking on the podcast bar below.

Update #9: Dan Ericksen

Dan Ericksen in orchard for cherry growersDan Ericksen is a third generation farmer who has been growing cherries in The Dalles for more than 40 years. After graduating from Oregon State University in 1974, Dan married his high school sweetheart – KayEricksen – and they established their own orchards. Today, they manage 70 acres featuring mostly early market varieties like Bings and Chelans. Dan also serves as one of the eastern representatives on the Oregon Cherry Growers board and the Columbia River Gorge Commission. When he’s not tending to cherries, he enjoys spending time with his two daughters and four grandchildren as well as golfing and traveling.

You can hear our interview with him by clicking on the grey podcast bar below.

Profile #8: John H. Byers

John H Byers, Byers OrchardsJohn H. Byers of Byers Orchards has been farming cherries with his family for more than 40 years in The Dalles. His parents started Byers Orchards in the Mill Creek Valley with 20 acres in 1970, and today John and his wife Sandy run the now 205-acre orchard. They produce 17 varieties of cherries including Chelan, Bing and Skeena. For John, cherry harvest continues to be a family affair, some years recruiting the help of more than 17 family members to work the orchards, which he says teaches invaluable life skills.

Profile #7: Pete Vareberg

Pete Vareberg 300 vertPete Vareberg is the downtown plant manager for Oregon Cherry Growers in The Dalles. He came to work for Oregon Cherry Growers in 1975, and has remained with the grower-owned cooperative for 39 years, which he credits to the community culture of the company. Starting as a laborer on the production floor, Pete has held a variety of positions – from union member to management. Among his duties, he’s responsible for overseeing the sizing, pitting and packaging of fruit for the maraschino and ingredient markets.

Profile #6: Brenda Thomas

Brenda Thomas, President

Brenda Thomas for Spotlight on Cherry GrowersBrenda Bailey Thomas establishes fourth generation stewardship and management of the family owned Orchard View Farms.  She was born and raised in The Dalles on the family cherry farm.  She is a graduate of Tufts University and a graduate of Oregon State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.  With her husband, they established, operated, and eventually sold a successful veterinary practice of 15 years in The Dalles, Oregon.  Returning to the family business and named President in 2009, Brenda developed and streamlined the management team and developed the business strategic plan for the next decade.  She has been instrumental in expanding packing house capabilities.  Brenda is entering her eighth harvest with Orchard View Farms.

To hear the interview, click on the grey podcast bar below