Family Trees

Once a month, starting April 1, we will be highlighting a nominated Powered by Orange business. What does it mean to be a Powered by Orange business? It could be that it’s owned by an Oregon State alum, has many OSU alums working there, or is just friends of OSU. A Powered by Orange Business also drives innovation, supports economic growth and serves in the community.

This month, Orange Spotlight chose Orchard View Farms in The Dalles, Oregon. Orchard View has been owned by four generations of Beavers for nearly 90 years.

Orchard View Farms sits among the sweeping hilltops just outside The Dalles, the area of the Columbia Gorge where the landscape starts to stretch and roll, and melt from forest green into Eastern Oregon’s golden brown.

The Bailey family, the proprietors of Orchard View, a large-scale cherry growing and packing operation, have an intense attachment to this land. They’ve been living on it and working it for years – from the old homestead to the northeast, across the Columbia in Washington, to the farm itself, which Orchard View Chairman Bob Bailey’s paternal grandfather and his wife, Mable, established in 1923.

Orchard View ships more than 10,000 tons of sweet cherries a year throughout the U.S. and to more than 25 countries worldwide. They use a patented packaging method called View Fresh that was developed by Bob Bailey’s father, Don, and keeps cherries fresh for up to a month after picking – View Fresh is also licensed by farms worldwide, particularly in Chile.

Despite Orchard View’s size, its 80 full time employees and hundreds of seasonal staff, the Baileys still run it as an environmentally responsible family business. They don’t apply chemicals to their trees unless they need to. They monitor their use of water and plant cover crops on their land to prevent soil erosion.

They are also active members of their communities in different ways, from school boards, commodity commissions to business associations, and offer programs to their employees that help them purchase homes. “We help full-time employees with down payments. So most of them are homeowners,” says Bailey.

The Bailey family’s connection to Oregon State University is as strong as their roots in the land and the community. “Since I went to school there and my dad Don was a graduate there in ’38 or ’39, Oregon State has been our place,“ Bailey says. Bailey graduated from Oregon State in 1963 with a degree in business and a minor in horticulture.

“The reason I got into the business is that I was born into it,” Bailey says. “I went back East to graduate school for one year when I decided I wanted to go back to the small town and the farm, and that was in 1964, and I’m still here,” he says.

Bob Bailey’s brother Ken, Vice President, graduated from Oregon State in horticulture in 1962. When he returned to Orchard View in 1966, he was mainly involved in orchard establishment and management. Ken, along with Bob and brothers Tom and Jon, helped grow Orchard View from 250 acres to 2,000, making it the largest sweet cherry growing operation in the country.

Throughout that time, Orchard View has been involved with Oregon State’s Extension Service and Hood River’s Experiment Station, as well as the Austin Family Business Program. And Bob Bailey hopes those connections will continue in the future.

“We want to participate and work together on issues dealing with the business – everything from fruit quality to dealing with new insects, so we can solve problems that show up for us and the industry,” Bailey says.

Now, Bob and Ken are handing off the business to the next generation of family members. Their nephew, David Ortega, a 2000 graduate of Oregon State in food science and technology, is the production manager in the packing house. And Bob’s daughter, Brenda Thomas, a 1991 graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine, recently sold her practice to take over as President and General Manager at Orchard View. “My best hope is to create an economically viable business and to create a positive experience for everyone involved in our business,” Thomas says. “It’s definitely a learning process, which is why it’s important to be around people who support you, like your family.”

One Response to “Family Trees”

  1. C Joanne Grabinski says:

    What a nice treat to find the photo of Bob Bailey and the nice story about the Bailey family’s orchard business at The Dalles. I’m honored to claim Bob as both a high school classmate (The Dalles High School, Class of 195959) and an Oregon State classmate, as I am also OSU, Class of 1963.