Manuel Martinez Jr., a Young Grower from Royal City, Washington
TJ Mullinax // August 3, 2015
grower / Royal City, Washington age / 23 crops / apples, cherries, grapes, nectarines business / Orchard administrator at New Royal Bluff Orchard, LLC family background / Graduated four months ago from Wenatchee Valley College with a degree in agriculture and tree fruit production and decided to become a farm manager, like his father Manuel Martinez, Sr.
How did you get your start? I started working in orchards when I was 13 years old. I sorted cherries and thinned apples, then after that I did a little bit of everything, even taking soil samples. I remember helping plant a vineyard and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But all that time, I wanted to be in law enforcement.
At one point Dad asked me, “What do you really want to do? Do you want to do orchard work or do you want to become an officer?” I said to him that I needed to learn, that I needed to go to college to succeed. And they supported me, no matter if I went into orchard management or in law enforcement.
Why did you choose farming? Growing up I would see Dad return from work in the orchard all tired. I didn’t understand why he was tired because I thought he had one of the easiest jobs ever, as a farm manager.
After joining him on jobs and working with him, I realized being a farm manger is a lot harder than working as a regular employee. He’s responsible for the orchard.
If something goes wrong the blame is on you. Being a farm manger is so stressful you hardly get any sleep because you are thinking about everything that needs to get done. Even though it’s not easy, I followed in Dad’s footsteps because I really wanted to learn about the varieties and farm management.
What have you been working on since graduation? I’m learning about the administrative duties like budgeting and cost estimation. It’s not just management, but about what we earn from the fruit and what we should spend to grow it.
I’ve had to factor in problems like if a storm rolls in and wipes out the crop—what are we supposed to do? In this example, we aren’t going to have the same bins picked as we estimated, and we’re going to lose all of that money. These are things I’m learning.
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