Cal-Ore Produce was founded in 1976 by a small group of family farmers in the Klamath Basin. There are currently 5 different farms growing organic potatoes for Cal-Ore Produce. These farms are Staunton Farms, Crawford Farms, Panhandle West (Jim & Jake Baley), Bob Baley Farms, and Lynman Farms. Most of these farms have been passed from generation to generation, including Staunton and Crawford, which are both fourth generation farms.
The growing region of the Klamath basin has cool nights and warm days that are perfect for growing organic potatoes. This high desert climate coupled with the high elevation, 4100’ above sea level, keeps the potatoes largely devoid of the disease and pest pressure that many other potato-growing regions experience.
Many of the Cal-Ore growers are involved in a program called the Walking Wetlands. Through this program they work closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure their farmland is beneficial to the surrounding environment and wildlife.
Wetlands not only serve as a wildlife habitat but also filter pollutants, reduce erosion and prevent flooding. Much of the wetlands in the Klamath Basin had been converted to agricultural land at the expense of the environment until the Walking Wetlands Project was created. This project involves flooding 75-100 acre blocks of private or public land for periods of 1-3 years then moving the water to a new parcel and using the previously flooded land for agriculture.
Walking Wetlands has had a very positive environmental impact on both the waterfowl populations and the agricultural land. There has been an increase of 50-75% in waterfowl populations. They have also seen better water quality in the Klamath Basin and downstream since the implementation of the program. The wetlands have also benefited the farms by improving soil conditions, and serving as a natural fertilizer, weed and pest repellent.
Staunton Farms was the first to try the Walking Wetlands Project on private land and continues to be very involved to this day. Their involvement with the project as well as other environmentally conscious upgrades and practices led to them winning the 2008 award for Environmental Stewardship from the National Potato Council.
These family farms also utilize crop rotations and winter plantings to provide nutrients for the soil and prevent wind erosion. As part of their crop rotation many grow mint, alfalfa, barley, and wheat. Winter wheat is grown in many of the potato fields after harvest to reduce soil erosion from winter winds.
Each potato coming from Cal-Ore produce begins its journey on one of these family farms where not only are the potatoes a priority, but also the environment of the Klamath Basin.
Learn more about Cal-Ore Produce.