( Courtesy Bridges Produce )

Hood River, Ore.-based Columbia Gorge Organic is celebrating 30 years of growing organically.

Cheryl and Ron Stewart purchased 100 acres of apple and pear orchards in 1975, and transitioned the farm to organic in 1989, according to a news release. The family farm is now run by Cheryl and her two sons Jimmy and Ronny.

When their oldest son graduated from college, he returned to the farm with ideas of transitioning to organic, according to the release.

Ron found that limited resources and techniques were available for organic fruit production and developed his own methods, according to the release.

He focused on developing spray techniques for apple scab and russeting, which are now used in organic orchards worldwide, according to the release.

“Ron and one other grower pretty much invented the idea of brewing and using compost tea,” Tom Lively of Organically Grown Company, said in the release. “He loved innovation and the idea of being on the cutting edge of a new way of growing clean food.” 

The Stewarts also made their own compost from organic materials from the orchard and pulp from their juice business, according to the release. They now grow 40 varieties of organic tree fruit and produce more than 30 organic beverages.

“They have shown integrity, commitment, and creativity in every phase of their development as a family farm, and later when they established their fresh, organic juice company,” Bu Nygrens, of Veritable Vegetables, said in the release. “The Stewarts have always shown care and pride in what they do — you can taste it in their fruit.” 


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