Pride of the Umpqua Organic Produce
Growers: Harmon and Noreane Walker
Located in: Roseburg, Ore.
Supplying PCC since: the 1990s
Delicious options: You'll find slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash and berries from Pride of the Umpqua each summer at your local PCC. It's the voluptuous produce wearing the LADYBUG organics label.
How it all began: "We started with raspberries. Ever since he was a little kid he thought 'wouldn't it be neat to have raspberries?'" Noreane Walker said of her husband, Harmon. The Walkers branched into tomatoes after they noticed tomato trucks rumbling north from California and wondered whether they could grow them just as well in Oregon's balmy Banana Belt. The rest is history.
Take some home: "We're just a mom and pop trying to do a good thing here," Noreane says. "We think everybody should eat our tomatoes!"
Tomatoes grown with pride
The perfect tomato tastes of sunshine: juicy and exuberant, an encapsulation of all that is ripe and lovely about summer. And summertime is what’s inside each fresh, organic tomato from Pride of Umpqua Organic Produce — the family farm of Harmon and Noreane Walker in Roseburg, Ore.
Since 1974 the Walkers have specialized in “heat loving” crops, such as eggplant, squash, berries and watermelon. But tomatoes have become their passion.
"My husband was saying years ago he used to see these tomato trucks coming up from California. 'Why can't we raise tomatoes here in Oregon and see if we can take some of their market?'" Noreane Walker remembered him saying. "That planted the seed in his head."
Harmon grows his own seedlings, relying on years of experience to choose those that maximize flavor, sweetness and delectability. He even developed his own variety of slicing tomato, Umpqua Beauty, that combines all his favorite traits.
Each plant is hand-tied to stakes to keep the fruit off the ground and then handpicked all season. You’ll find his beloved slicing tomatoes and cherry tomatoes at PCC wearing the LADYBUG label.
The Walkers raise their produce on about 100 certified organic acres. They rotate crops and employ drip irrigation to preserve the fertile soils of their sun-drenched, southern Oregon farm and pay their workers above minimum wage to preserve those relationships as well.
All this effort pays off in bountiful tomatoes bursting with flavor, ready to grace a sandwich or mingle with organic greens in a special salad.