Planted in 1965 & 1966

In 1965 Richard Birkemeier and his family planted the first forty acres of  Meridian Orchards. Then in1966an additional 40 acres was planted making Meridian Orchards 80 acres in total. The farm was run by Richard and his family until 1995 when his son Jim took over management and certified the farm as organic.

Move to organic

In 1995 a “new” fungal disease (Eastern Filbert Blight) began moving south down the Willamette Valley. “Conventional wisdom” recommended rigorous spraying programs. The awesome array of soil microbial populations and their symbiotic relationships with plants was being overlooked. Nature was considered anadversaryto beconquered, without noticing or realizing that we are an inseparable part. Agriculture had started to become insane.

An attempt is being made in our orchard to demonstrate the feasibility of managing a commercial size orchard in a somewhat sane manner.

Firewood is cut from the annual pruning: enough to heat several homes. The rest of the brush is shredded and returned to the soil. Aged manure is added to the fallen leaves each fall, and ground covers have naturalized. Trees are foliar fed fish and kelp in the spring, attempting to increase resistance to disease. Hedge rows are planted for wildlife food and habitat, as well as for adding beauty. Pheromone traps are monitored to minimize pyrethrum use. Violent operations such as spraying or flail mowing are done only a section at a time when possible.

The nuts are mechanically harvested in the fall and washed and dried in our on-site facility. 

Always Improving

Our management practices remain far from ideal. The size and scope of operations requires fossil fuel, for instance, and the orchard is still generally considered a monoculture. Smaller, more diverse farms, can better simulate natural systems. We are dedicated to finding natural solutions to the issues we encounter and understand that there will always be room for improvement.