I was raised on a farm. At first I didn’t want to come back, but I realized I knew a lot and was kind of good at it.
Q: Looking ahead, what do you think will be your biggest challenges as a grower?
Labor and regulations are the among the biggest problems we have. We try to get as many certifications as possible, and we design our orchards to be labor friendly.
For the last eight to ten years, we’ve only grown pedestrian orchards, which are less labor intensive for pruning and picking. We don’t let a tree get over ten feet tall. We want pickers to think of our orchard as the most desirable because that’s where they can make the most money. The orchard is designed so people can go through like wildfire and make a ton of money.
Q: How does your experience as a Marine help you run a farm?
I like to manage things with the same type of a chain of command. It’s good to have very clear roles at different levels so everyone knows exactly what to do and you know who to talk to when there’s a problem.
Q: What’s good about farming?
Unlike a lot of jobs, you can look back and see what you did. You can look around and find everything that you built. You can get emotionally invested in the orchard, especially if it’s a family business. You can take a lot of pride in it. It’s the type of business where the hardest workers succeed.
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