The seasons are changing – that’s what the calendar says – but this week, Grant shows us another sign of fall: harvest of Oregon’s abundant and locally-produced fruits and vegetables at family markets that are distinctive Oregon Century Farms.
You can meet some of the friendliest folks – people like Gerry Frank – down on the farm. “People come from all over to E.Z. Orchards because they know that this is a place that offers the freshest food. We’re really lucky; we’re in eating heaven here in Oregon country,” he says. Gerry Frank’s knowledge of Oregon’s people and places may be surpassed only by his appetite for locally-grown products like the fresh corn and peaches he enjoys at E-Z Orchards, a family-owned farm and market near Salem that’s been in business for more than a century.
Few can boast of a love quite like the one that Gerry Frank has for his home state. His passion comes through clearly when you thumb past the cover of his new book, “Gerry Frank’s Oregon.” “It’s Oregon’s stores, restaurants and hotels, attractions and interesting lore about various communities,” he said. “The book also includes places for kids to go and a lot of my family history – all of that stuff.”
The sort of stuff that’s been Frank’s bread and butter in his Sunday Oregonian travel column and his radio and TV reports through the decades. He is an Oregon man for all seasons whose roots reach back seven generations, linked by birth and profession to the famed Meier and Frank family retail business. But Gerry insists that it was his 26 years on Senator Mark Hatfield’s staff that really put him in touch with the people and places of Oregon. “We hit every nook and cranny in the state and I got to know Oregon very well,” he said with a smile.
So you should not be surprised to learn that some of Gerry’s favorite places to visit are Oregon’s unchanged and timeless regions.“I love to drive along the southern Oregon coast that stretches from Bandon to Gold Beach. It is my favorite part of the state for the uniqueness of the geography, the natural beauty and so many friendly people – there’s nothing in the world like that.”
Gerry Frank has been the sole judge of the chocolate cakes competition at the Oregon State Fair for the past 53 years. In addition, his popular restaurant in Salem, Konditorei, is where pastries, pies and cakes rule the counters. These days, book signings often rule the dining area as well.
That takes us to the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program, a program that honors farm and ranch families with century-long connections to the land and Oregon’s rich agricultural heritage. In addition to E-Z Orchards, he likes to encourage folks to visit Bauman Farms near Gervais. It’s a working farm and market and it provides a glimpse into an Oregon lifestyle that should be prized and encouraged.
“The Bauman farm has operated by the same family for more than a hundred years,” says OPRD Heritage Conservation spokesperson, Kyle Jansson. “When Century Farms like the Baumans’ invite you to come out, they are sharing some of the strong values that come with the tradition of being close to the land. It’s a special opportunity and should be enjoyed.”
Brian Bauman is a fourth-generation member of the family that began farming the fertile land in 1895. Today, Brian operates the business end of the marketplace, where visitors purchase fresh produce that’s grown on the land. “People come in and want practical information. For example, they want to know ‘was the corn picked this morning?’ Yes, I tell them – this morning, and it’s great.”
Bauman’s grows scores of different fruits and vegetables across hundreds of acres, and all of the produce is sold in the family’s full service market shortly after the daily harvest. Brian said that he is proud of the fact that the family farm is part of the Century Farm program. He credits the family’s blending of tradition and an entrepreneurial spirit that has allowed their operation to endure. “We must be doing something right for a hundred years to continue doing business,” Bauman says. “My name is on the products and I want to make sure that it’s good.”
Gerry Frank couldn’t agree more. Century Farms represent something lasting and solid, and prove that the Oregon spirit and family tradition is alive and well.
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.