Mt. Hood Organic Farms are seasoned in growing certified organic apples and pears picked to perfection. At their booth, you can expect to find fresh apples harvested specifically for market customers and pears that will turn sweet and juicy on your countertop.
“Pears take a certain amount of education,” explains owner Brady Jacobson. Unlike apples, pears cannot be picked when ready to eat since their thin skin bruises easily. Pears are picked for flavor, when their Brix, or sugar-content, is high to assure that they will ripen properly. Even so, pears need a certain amount of chilling time. The pears you see at market have been kept in cold storage for a couple of weeks. “Pears don’t match up with the fast food nation. The slow food movement is good for pears!” Brady adds. She also understands that customers want to taste what they are buying and will bring pre-ripened pears to market for you to sample.
For 28 years, Brady and her husband John have farmed at 2,000 feet in the upper Hood River Valley on a parcel of land bordering the National Forest. Their picturesque vista of Mt. Hood, 100-year old farmhouse and English-style plantings inspired by Brady’s landscaping days in California explain why their orchard is a popular site for summer weddings. Aesthetics are important to Brady and John, as can be seen in the way their orchard is planted. They use a high-density European-style planting system with trees close together, trellised and on dwarf root stock to maximize space.
Their farming decisions go beyond the aesthetic, however. The first Certified Organic grower in the Hood River Valley, they have been certified since 1989, adding their Demeter Biodynamic certification last year. “The Biodynamic certification takes everything to a different level,” says Brady. “It’s not just about not spraying, but about a whole farm system.” Brady and her husband are committed to having the least impact on their environment as possible and doing what they can to enhance the natural setting. Recently, they planted millions of seeds to attract beneficial insects.
Due to their high elevation, Mt. Hood Organic Farms is just getting into the bulk of their harvest and the best is yet to come. At the market this weekend, you can expect to find Gala and Jonagold apples as well as summer pears. Winter pears are on their way. The Cascade pear, a cross between a Red Bartlett and Comice, is currently in cold storage and will be ready for market soon!
Written by Daurie Mangan-Dimuzio, HFM volunteer and former staff, 2009