A commitment to volunteerism has earned Dan and JoAnn Keeley of St. Paul, Ore., the 2013 Nut Growers of the Year award.
The Nut Growers Society recognized the Keeleys with the honor at its Jan. 29 annual meeting during the Northwest Ag Show in Portland, Ore.
From the smallest duties to the larger tasks of organizing hazelnut industry events, the Keeleys are “absolutely dependable,” said Polly Owen, executive director of the Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board.
“They’re the ultimate volunteers,” she said.
The couple raises 40 acres of hazelnuts, as well as chestnuts, wheat, grass seed and clover seed, at a farm founded in 1898 by JoAnn’s grandfather, Alphonse Buyserie.
The couple began growing hazelnuts in 1990, with JoAnn serving as the farm’s day-to-day manager. Dan worked as a civil engineer until retiring last year and now devotes his full time to farming as well.
“It’s a unique industry because people work together rather than being on the competitive side,” he said. “We compete but we also try to help each other out.”