How long has your family-owned your farm?
Our farm, located in Mt Angel, was originally purchased by my grandparents Carolyn and Frank Aman almost 100 years ago, so our farm is going into the fifth generation and we are close to becoming a Century Farm.
Please offer some details about your farming history and your role.
My parents Gert and Russ Aman had six children and the three youngest, myself, Tom, and Kevin, rented the farm from my parents after our father passed away. Tom is my identical twin brother and Kevin is the youngest. We teamed up to run the farm and grew different seed crops, i.e. Foundation perennial ryegrass, sugar beet, and vegetable seed crops. We also had an ornamental dried flower business while all three of us had full-time jobs as crop consultants for Wilco Farmers. My two brothers and I have since purchased the farm from the other three children upon our mother’s passing.
How long have you farmed hazelnuts (or when did you first plant)?
Our first 10-acre Barcelona hazelnut orchard was planted in 1968. In 1980 we planted orchards of Barcelona, Ennis, and Lewis varieties. Our farm has had to produce orchards for more than 50 years! They are all still extremely healthy and producing good yields!
How many total acres of nuts and what varieties do you grow?
We farm approximately 330 acres of hazelnuts. Our home place accounts for 75 acres and we are currently leasing another 255 acres of hazelnuts. All the leased orchards are mainly new varieties that have EFB resistance. These acres of hazelnuts consist of the varieties Barcelona, Ennis, Lewis, Jefferson, Dorris, McDonald, and Wepster.
Is there anything you have done that is innovative or different?
Most of our production orchards are on drip irrigation and have seen a great response to the water. Most of our home place acreages have subterranean drip lines, which means the lines are buried 7” below the orchard floor. This makes it easy to do floor management and not have to dodge surface drip lines. We also inject liquid plant nutrients directly into our drip systems to give “IV” like shots of critical plant food at specific timings of nutlet development.
Any other comments you might have on what you like about farming hazelnuts, outlooks on the future, or struggles you have had?
I believe the future of hazelnuts in Oregon looks “Best ever!” Hazelnuts only grow well in a specific region, basically the 45th parallel, which requires mild and wet winters as they pollinate in the “dead” of winter. With several “out of state” investment companies leasing or purchasing land to plant orchards, there must be a reason for the bright future of hazelnuts. The word is getting out that nuts are healthy, nutritious, gluten-free, packed with great heart-healthy fats, and downright yummy! In the past, supply has limited demand but with all the new varieties and production ramping up, I believe this market will expand rapidly. The new state-of-the-art nut processing plant of HGOs in Donald will be a critical step in bringing small packaged nut products to US families and the world marketplace.
How long have you been a member of HGO? What are the benefits of membership or anything you would like to say about HGO?
We have been members of the coop for some 35 years! We like the idea of “farmer ownership” and the board’s decision to voice the grower’s perspective. We want to proudly see our Oregon Orchard® brands placed on grocery shelves and U.S. and foreign ingredient manufacturers using Oregon hazelnuts in their snack and health foods!
We are primed for explosive growth as we hopefully see a reduction in COVID issues and a reopening of our industries. The future looks bright for Oregon hazelnut growers and as a partner/owner in HGO, our farm and families have been blessed!