Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press
Having worked as both a grower and processor, Verne Gingerich has a fully integrated view of Northwest hazelnut production.
The industry’s relatively small size allows for effective communication, which has allowed it to thrive, Gingerich said upon accepting the 2017 Nut Grower of the Year award during the Nut Growers Society’s Jan. 18 annual meeting in Corvallis, Ore.
“We’re in a good industry and I hope we keep it that way,” said Gingerich, who farms near Canby, Ore.
Gingerich credited his father, Richard, with the foresight to begin cultivating hazelnuts, which have bestowed many blessings on the family.
Aside from growing hazelnuts, Gingerich also worked for the Northwest Hazelnut Co. and eventually became a partner in the processing company in the 1990s.
Though he’s since sold his interest to the George Packing Co., Gingerich continues to run a receiving station for hazelnuts.
While operating the processing company, Gingerich had a keen sense of where the markets were heading and how the industry should position itself, said Lisa Pascoe, office manager for Northwest Hazelnut Co., who presented him with the award.
As a farmer, Gingerich is always eager to share his knowledge with others, Pascoe said. “He is always a huge asset for those he helps.”
In the past, Gingerich served five years on the Nut Growers Society’s board, including a stint as president in 1990, in addition to his involvement with the Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board.
Gingerich also sits on a committee that advises the Oregon Department of Agriculture about shipping point inspections and is involved with local firefighting agencies.