My great-grandfather was one of the early pear farmers in the upper valley. Everyone said he was crazy. That led to my father getting into farming. I started out going to do my criminal justice degree at Washington State University, but I came home and decided I want to follow my dad and do farming.
Q: What are you doing to prepare yourself to be a fieldman?
Study. Meet as many people as I can to build relationships.
Q: What challenges do you face planting your first orchard?
We’re going to be planting a high-density orchard so I have to buy a lot of trees. Being fresh in my career, it’s [significant] money. The trees won’t be in production for 4 to 5 years and not in full production till about 9 years. To make that commitment and not see any return for years, it’s going to be tough. But it’s what I want to do.
Q: What is it about farming that you love?
It sounds cheesy, but it’s the people. I grew up being around people in the industry, and I enjoy it. And having the opportunity to help people in the industry make money? It doesn’t get much better than that.
Q: Looking ahead, what will be your biggest challenges as a grower?
Experience. I’m working with guys that have anywhere from zero to 50 years experience. Being able to humble myself, knowing that they’re going to know more than me at the beginning. They’re always going to be teaching me things. I don’t want to ever let my ego get in the way.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email