ROSEBURG, Ore. — Kruse Farms, a family-owned business for almost 100 years, is on the verge of major changes and downsizing.
The change is coming because co-owners, brother Jeff Kruse, 70, and sister Karen Corpron, 64, want to retire. Jeff Kruse has been farming since he was a youth. Corpron has managed the farm’s produce market and bakery for the past 13 years.
Co-owner Evan Kruse, 42, a nephew and the family’s fourth generation on the farm, plans to continue to farm, but on a smaller scale.
The three owners have decided to put the farm market, greenhouses, cold storage building, office and 93 acres of farm ground just west of Roseburg up for sale. The listed price is $2.49 million.
“We’re going to be open to the end of the season, typically that’s early in the new year,” Corpron said. “We hope that could be a condition if there’s a potential sale before then.”
Evan Kruse plans to continue to farm 200 acres. That acreage includes the original 15 acres that his great-grandfather, Bert Kruse, first farmed in 1923. The younger Kruse, who returned to the farm in 2009 after working in technology, will concentrate on growing hay and some fruit crops, the latter for U-pick customers.
Evan Kruse and his wife, Andrea, have three young children who are the family’s fifth generation on the farm.
“We want to give them (kids) the opportunity to be involved on the farm,” Evan Kruse said. “I feel real lucky to be able to give them that.”
Corpron said the time is right for a sale, but she admitted she is worried that in her dreams, her father, Don Kruse, will question the decision to sell. Don Kruse farmed the ground for about 70 years before health issues limited his mobility. He died in 2018 at age 87.
“There’s a feeling of disappointing our customers as well as my dad,” said Corpron. “After our decision to sell was announced, there were many people who expressed an understanding, but a sadness at the same time.”
Jeff Kruse said he’s spent the majority of his life farming and is ready to have the time to travel and see different landmarks.
“At some point you have to cut the cord,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out the best time and the best way to do it, but eventually you have to.”
Bert Kruse started farming at the south end of Garden Valley in 1923, turning logged-over land into a produce farm.
“It was a real shoestring operation,” Jeff Kruse said of his grandfather’s start on 15 acres.
Bert Kruse’s son, Don, became a partner in the farm in 1949, a year after his Roseburg High School graduation. The two gradually increased their farm to 600 acres. They added a couple more crops and got into hay and grain production.
The farm didn’t have its own produce stand in those decades of production. The produce was marketed to Southwest Oregon and Portland area wholesale houses. A shift in the wholesale market in the 1980s to contracts with large California corporate farms forced the Kruse family to make a change.
In 1987, the family purchased the current site of the market. A pole structure was renovated into the market. Greenhouses were built and a cold storage building was upgraded. The farming operation was expanded from about six crops to 60 crops to fill the market with a variety of fruits and vegetables. The bakery and gift shop were built onto the back of the produce market in 1992.
“We have a lot of pride in growing good products for the market,” Jeff Kruse said. “We are very good at what we do. We take pride in having done that over a long period of time.”