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Q & A Laurie Walker, Dickey Farms

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Dickey Farms in Bingen, Wash., was homesteaded in 1867 as the Henderson/Warner Farms. It became Dickey Farms in 1921 and has been in continual operation for nearly 150 years. The farm is currently managed and owned by the family’s fifth generation: Stanley Dickey, Janice Leis and Laurie Walker. John Dickey is the sixth generation working the farm.

The farm comprises approximately 72 acres, planted with rotating crops throughout the year. Crops grown and harvested include green onions, spinach, green cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, winter squash, pumpkins, cherries, peaches and apricots.

The farm is GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and Food Alliance certified. Dickey Farms produce is sold in Washington, Oregon and Alaska. Along with the produce and grocery items, a 10,000-square-foot year-round feed, grain and vegetable stand was built in 2004. The new building helps in the diversification and stability of income throughout the year.

“Close family bonds and hard work are the keys to our business success,” Walker says. The farm employs 10 full time workers and 60 to 70 part time workers throughout the year, many of whom have worked at Dickey Farms for more than 20 years.

How long have you been involved in the family business?

I started when I was a kid, picking beans. I also worked in the packing house.

The farm and the store are great companions. What made you decided to start the fruit stand?

We needed to do something else in order to stay busy in the winter. So we decided to bring in animal feed, dairy items, local wines, meats and cheeses from around the area.

What is your quick go-to meal after a long day on the farm or in the store?

Tacos.

What item does the farm grow that would be devastating if you couldn’t produce it?

Corn and tomatoes.

What Dickey’s produce do you think is underappreciated and why?

Eggplant, because a lot of people don’t know how to prepare it.

Do you make it a habit of canning or preserving your seasonal favorites?

Yes! Must-haves are dill pickles, jams and canned tomatoes.

How important do you think eating and growing locally are to our communities in the Gorge? How does Dickey Farms help?

Not everyone has the time to prepare and tend a garden, or the space to do it. That’s where we come in. We will grow it and you can eat it.

What food would people be surprised to find in your kitchen?

Sardines.

What are a few of the must-have meals when you get together with family?

A layered overnight green salad and baked nacho dip.

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