Diversification Makes Cents

Although her parents had long moved away, on a drive to check out her old childhood home on the ridge above Newberg, Ranee Solmonsson passed a parcel of land that was for sale. It turned out to be 9 acres with wineries on two sides. Most of the land was covered with old cherry trees that had been neglected for quite a while but Ranee and her husband Jody saw the possibilities and got to work building Sunshower Hill Farm.DSC_0001

They rejected the concept of growing grapes, even though their neighbors were successful. They preferred to develop Sunshower Hill Farm to be diversified, to offer plenty of food variety right there for their family as well as permitting them to sell excess to the public.

DSC_0006The large grove of old cherry trees that they cleared soon became pasture for grass-fed beef cattle.  They had up to five at a time, selling shares easily, as Newberg is the edge of the Portland suburbs and people who live in the city and want healthy food choices are willing to drive out a little.  The farm is going to diversify soon by raising heritage hogs. This will enable them to offer meat at a lower cost and within a shorter time than raising cattle. The farm also has a variety of chickens, a horse, and a companion goat.DSC_0007a

stella dark cherriesMeanwhile, twenty cherry trees remain and produce Stella dark red sweet cherries that are very enjoyable for eating. They usually are ripe in July.

Another fruit  crop that is well loved is the raspberries, which are highly popular and available for about six weeks typically from the end of June. Ranee is planning to diversify with another variety to extend the enjoyment but that will take a year or so to mature.

There are also blueberries and consideration is being given to plant some black caps, a local name for what is called black raspberries outside of Oregon. The berry is smaller than a blackberry and is used to make jams and jellies but also used as the “ink” colorant for stamping sides of beef and other edible products.  The Willamette Valley is the main area of black cap production in the United States.DSC_0018

Other products for sale from Sunshower Hill Farm include vegetables in season, eggs, and wood chips that can be very successfully used for smoking. Those old cherry trees still provide some income, even if they themselves are gone! Some old apples trees that have been pruned and are being grafted with new branches also provided some wood for the chips.woodchips

Sunshower Hill Farm markets their products by word of mouth for the meat, at the farm and through Yamhill Valley Grown. Once again, Yamhill Valley Grown proves to be an excellent resource for interested consumers who care about the kind of food they want to eat. Instead of driving to Sunshower Hill Farm for these products, you order them online and they will be delivered to your door!

                 Sunshower Hill Farm   32300 NE Old Parrett Mt. Rd.  Newberg, OR 97132                   (503) 537-8385    Ranee and Jody Solmonsson    cascaderanee@gmail.com

About creationsbybg

Beth and Graham met online almost 20 years ago and married in 2007. Planning for retirement has included finding more time to play again and creativity is blooming. Now that we have moved to Oregon our time is split between exploring and creative endeavors. What fun! Following several years enmeshed in the local food movement in West Virginia and active involvement in the establishment and running of a year-round indoor local food market, visiting farms and telling consumers about them is a work of joy.
This entry was posted in beef, berries, cherries, chicken, eggs, farm, fruit, heritage breed, land use, Local food, marketing, pork and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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