Bryan Mrachek / grower / Malaga, Washington
age / 27
family farm / Lucky Bohemian Farms, which is owned by Laura and Mike Mrachek, Bryan’s parents
crops / Cherries, apples, wine grapes and blueberries
title / Farm Manager
other experience / Viticulture technician with Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Q: What are some of your goals?
Carrying on the family name is one of the main priorities, but the way we’re going to do that is by developing an integrated model of farming.
Looking down the road is challenging… as far as long term goes. [I’m] really trying to select systems with the least amount of labor needed as well as the highest amount of yield per acre as possible.
Keeping in mind the amount of capital it takes to do these systems, especially as an independent grower.
Q: What’s your biggest challenge since joining the family farm?
Labor retention and moving people from crop to crop while keeping your base crew. It’s pretty intimidating. The amount of labor that you used to be able to get — and need — you’re going to have to get by with less. And you’re going to have to find ways to make them more efficient every day.
Hiring 100 people for 10 days and then laying all of them off, and then trying to hire them back two months later — those days are gone. Ya’ know, you need to be able to operate with a smaller crew for a longer period of time so people don’t jump off the ship and look for work elsewhere.
Keeping those people busy is one of the biggest challenges, absolutely.
Q: So what’s your plan to tackle future labor challenges?
It’s something I think of every day and I still don’t have an answer for.