Lauren Lucht, Northwest Transplants, LLC
Tucked away on 20 acres in Molalla, Oregon is one of Oregon’s most innovative nursery operations, where the end-product ends up all over the world. A Wilco member from the beginning, Northwest Transplants, LLC, was started in 1990 by Neal and Pam Lucht, at a time when vegetable green house operations were just coming online in Oregon. Neal grew up on a row crop farm and studied horticulture at OSU. His goal was to create new opportunities for farmers and help them be more productive and more successful on their land by providing the plants and transplanting service to their customer’s fields.
That mission still holds true today as the second generation, daughter Lauren Lucht, has joined the business and has visions to diversify and grow the business even more. While the Lucht’s moved away from the field transplanting business in the late 90’s, they saw an opportunity to focus on the seedling production to meet the specific needs of their customers. “We can help growers to be more successful with high value crops and offer more opportunities to growers working on smaller acreage,” Lauren said.
Known for their customer service, Northwest Transplants works with a variety of customers in the development of seed and genetics, production of processed vegetable, and direct to consumer growers of all scales. “We germinate and grow field ready plants to meet the customer’s specific out date. We save our seed producers up to a year of field time through biennial vernalization in greenhouse.” Lauren said. They grow a wide variety of starts, from vegetables and herbs to hemp and even noxious weeds, if that is what a customer needs, in105 greenhouses that equate to8acres of in door greenhouse space, resulting in 90 million seedlings annually. They have also been certified organic since 2002.
They are also passionate about growing food that stays in their local community and promoting agricultural education along the way. From July to October they have three farm stands that sells their produce 100 percent on the honor system. A fourth farm stand will be opening this summer, all which sell fresh produce from their greenhouses, in addition to melons, sweet corn, and pumpkins that they grow on land they purchased across the road from Northwest Transplants. They also have a pumpkin patch and corn maze that is growing every year. “I feel there’s a tremendous purpose in what I do, ”Lauren said. “I love working outside along my family and getting my hands dirty, but most of all I love the challenge of all of it…so many decisions to make, with so many variables,” she added.
Lauren’s grandfather, Charlie Lucht, served on one of the original committees when co-ops merged to create Wilco, so the Lucht’s have been long-standing Wilco members. Northwest Transplants utilizes the petroleum and agronomy divisions and say they enjoy the ease of market access at a competitive rate, with the tools and support available to help farmers succeed. “We respect Wilco’s commitment to grower relations and their focus on making sure ag thrives and our way of life prospers, ”Lauren said.