Q: How did your family get started in the pear business?
A: In the 1920s my great-grandpa and his brother moved from the Midwest to Oregon to work on a 40-acre ranch in the Hood River Valley, located on the eastern side of the Hood River Valley, with the Columbia River to the north, the foothills of Mt. Hood to the south, and the crest of the Cascades to the west. The valley is best known for its volcanic soils, mild climate, and growing conditions that are perfectly suited for apples, pears, berries, and other crops.
My family purchased the home ranch they worked on, and Moore Orchards was founded in 1939. Today, our family’s fourth generation—me, my two brothers, and our cousin—own and operate the ranch. And our fifth generation is getting started!
Q: What does your family grow today?
A: Over time our family purchased more land in the Hood River Valley. Now we grow 280 acres of pears, 10 acres of apples, and 18 acres of blueberries. Our pear acreage includes 20% Bartlett pears for canning. For the fresh market, we grow 60% Anjou pears, and the remaining 20% of our pear trees are specialty varieties like Red Anjou and Starkrimson. We sell our fresh fruit under our brand, Hood River Hills, across the U.S.
Q: How do you, your brothers, and cousin manage the business today?
A: I manage the orchards, and everyone else has a role in running our packing plant. We packed fruit in a barn until the early 1970’s when my great-grandpa built a packing and storage company, and it took some convincing to get the bank to understand the value it would add before they agreed to loan him the money. Another advantage of having our own facility is being able to store our Bartlett pears after harvest until the cannery is ready to process them vs paying the cannery to hold them. In addition to our own fruit, we handle fruit from five other area growers, and that helps us keep a year-round workforce of about 50 employees.