Editorial: Farms -- The source and reflection of vitality

March 23, 2011


The source and reflection of vitality

The buds are on the trees.

This is a simple, yet vital, statement about life in Hood River.

Currently the size of peas and looking like dusty pink sequins, the buds on the pear, apple and cherry trees remind us of the cycle of life and the importance of agriculture to the Gorge economy and to our environment.

Agricultural producers in Oregon's mid-Columbia region (Hood River and Wasco counties) earned a total of $177.3 million in gross sales of farm commodities in 2010, a welcome jump up from the $149.4 million the two counties earned the prior year.

In Hood River County, farm gate sales of all crops and livestock totaled $87.6 million, up from $83.4 million in 2009 - a 5 percent increase.

Winter pears, Bartlett pears, sweet cherries and apples accounted for 95 percent of the 2010 agricultural commodity sales in Hood River County. Winter pears are a major crop in the county, generating $54 million in sales last year.

Oregon agriculture has generally been a constant and stable economic engine, increasing in production value 21 of the past 24 years, with more than a thousand Oregon farms having been operated by the same families for at least a century.

American society is seeing a rising interest in "locally grown," and individuals and families are starting small with gardens, or turning things they grow into value-added products that provide income and jobs.

Often those goods are available at farmers markets, of which there are many throughout the mid-Columbia. One good way for consumers to learn about agriculture is to support those markets and visit face-to-face with the local people who grow the food. Supporting local agriculture can also happen at the neighborhood grocery store, or a favorite restaurant.

Local agriculture is not confined to fresh seasonal produce. Locally grown foods are often processed or used as ingredients for other products. With more than 220 different commodities produced in Oregon, the state's agricultural diversity is far greater than most states.

Now, with the buds emerging on the fruit trees, is a good time to consider the role of the more than 38,000 Oregon producers and two million agricultural operators in the U.S.

As U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack put it, "We owe a debt of gratitude to the hard working men and women who provide us - and much of the world - with a safe, reliable, affordable, and abundant food supply."

E-mail from Japan

'Please pray from the

United States by all means'

Many people in Hood River enjoy long and loving connections to the people of Japan. These include Althea Hukari, who sent along this message Thursday:

My family has been in contact with Jun Homma in Tokyo, who has many friends here in the valley. He and his family are safe. I hope you will reprint his entire e-mail. Jun's English is certainly better then my Japanese, and while the language may not read fluently, the heart does.

(The Rob he mentions is my father, Rob Hukari, with whom he was very close.) Please join me in continuing to send loving thoughts for all those suffering in Japan.

"Thank you for an immediate visit. Toshiko and my brothers family are safe in the favor and relieve, please. There was no big trouble though the company and the house shook widely. The Pacific Ocean side of Japan is really a decaying state due to the severe earthquake.

We also (travel) a lot also to a friend in the place visited many times, and are worried. It thinks what kind of support is possible in the future. There is no story easily, and it is very cold, and is worried of victims. This year's Japan that thinks give support big with the visit from the president in the United States.

It is only prayed that damage not extend. Please pray from the United States by all means. It thinks the United States to be want a visit this year. Your family also ripens and thinks that it paves it of the appearance of vigor. In the future, let's do happily by the mind of sympathy as a child who lives in the United States and Japan of our Rob parents whom we loved most. Thank you for a heart-warming letter. Please tell sisters and Hukari families that Jun is energetic.

Love, Jun and Toshiko Homma"

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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