Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, February 12, 2021, Page 2, Image 2

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Friday, February 12, 2021
People & Places
Oregon farm couple takes on
hazelnut confectionery venture
Established 1928
Capital Press Managers
Joe Beach ..................... Editor & Publisher
Capital Press
Anne Long ................Advertising Manager
Carl Sampson .................. Managing Editor
Though they’re no strang-
ers to direct-to-consumer
farm sales, Ryan and Rachel
Henderson have discovered
a new set of challenges with
their online hazelnut confec-
tionery business.
The Henderson family has
been selling fruits, vegetables,
herbs and flowers straight to
the public for four decades
from their Thistledown Farm
in Junction City, Ore.
Ryan Henderson had
worked in the family business
since he was a small child but
decided to start a side venture
with his wife, Rachel, in 2016
when they bought the Hazel-
nut Hill candy company.
The new enterprise was
a good fit with the over-
all farming operation, which
includes 400 acres of hazel-
nut orchards, but the couple
nonetheless endured a “trial
by fire.”
“There were a lot of tears
that first year,” said Rachel.
“There are a lot of things to
find out and we learned them
the hard way,” added Ryan.
‘Art and science’
Though the Hendersons
had acquired the necessary
equipment and recipes from
Hazelnut Hill’s founders —
Rob and Sally Hilles of Cor-
vallis, Ore. — they still had
to get a feel for the “art and
science” of controlling such
factors as temperature and
The company produces a
variety of candies, pancake
mixes, hazelnut butter and
other products, most of which
require that hazelnuts first be
roasted before they are further
“Once you roast them, the
clock starts ticking on their
shelf life,” Ryan said, noting
that Hazelnut Hill roasts the
hazelnuts to order.
Aside from mastering the
intricacies of processing, the
couple also had to figure out
which hazelnut varieties are
Jessica Boone ............ Production Manager
Samantha McLaren ....Circulation Manager
Occupation: Owners of
the Hazelnut Hill confec-
tionery company
Hometown: Junction
City, Ore.
Ages: Ryan is 46, Rachel
is 34
Mateusz Perkowski/Capital Press
Ryan and Rachel Henderson run the Hazelnut Hill candy company in Junction City,
best suited for particular pur-
poses. Different cultivars
have distinct flavor profiles
and other unique character-
istics, such as how easily
they’re “blanched” from their
“We’re in love with the
Sacajawea variety at the
moment,” said Rachel, refer-
ring to a cultivar resistant
to Eastern Filbert Blight
released in 2006 by Oregon
State University.
Scam warning
Hill’s website and implement-
ing an e-commerce function
for online sales took time, as
did identifying and avoiding
Unscrupulous buyers seem
to have a sixth sense about
targeting new online retail-
ers, who they try to convince
to ship large orders without
pre-payment, Ryan said.
“After year number four,
we don’t see that level of
manipulation,” he said. “I
would put that out there as a
warning to anyone starting an
online business.”
They don’t yet consider
themselves experts but have
now grown familiar enough
with operating Hazelnut Hill
to consider creating new
product lines.
Fine-tuning any new
product requires a lot of tri-
al-and-error, Rachel said.
“We’ve got a lot of equipment
so we’ll make it work.”
Direct-to-consumer farm
sales are complex but the
Henderson family has deter-
mined it’s financially worth-
while to avoid middlemen for
their crops.
“When you’re growing
a cannery crop, you’re kind
of at the mercy of what they
want to pay you,” Ryan said.
Online focus
For the same reason,
Hazelnut Hill focuses pri-
marily on its online sales, as
well as farm stores and fes-
tivals, rather than dealing
with the price and placement
constraints of mainstream
“Because we’re farmers,
I like to sell at different farm
stands, not grocery stores,”
Rachel said.
Hazelnut Hill had devel-
oped a recognized brand since
its beginning in the late 1980s,
which provided the Hender-
sons with a built-in customer
base when they bought the
“They had a good follow-
ing and a good name, and we
knew that,” Ryan said.
Rachel is active on social
media expanding that fan
base and the couple has
experimenting with innova-
tive marketing techniques,
such as providing new cus-
tomers with large plastic eggs
filled with hazelnut products
for Easter.
“We went and hid them
around their yards,” Rachel
“It can be a bit risky, if you
think about it,” Ryan said.
Though the confectionery
company uses only a fraction
of the hazelnuts grown at the
Henderson family’s farm, the
couple sees Hazelnut Hill as a
way to introduce more people
to the staple Oregon crop.
“I want to see more people
eating hazelnuts. If you live in
Oregon, you should at least
know what they taste like,”
Ryan said. “I don’t want to be
Education: Rachel grad-
uated from the University
of Oregon in 2008 with
a bachelor’s degree in
communication disor-
ders and sciences, Ryan
graduated from Oregon
State University in 1998
with a bachelor’s degree
in horticulture
Entire contents copyright © 2021
EO Media Group
dba Capital Press
An independent newspaper
published every Friday.
Capital Press (ISSN 0740-3704) is
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2870 Broadway NE, Salem OR 97303.
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the nut supplier to the world,
I just want to of a good job
doing what we’re doing.”
Carol Ryan Dumas ..............208-860-3898
Growing demand
Brad Carlson .......................208-914-8264
Small hazelnut businesses
play a crucial role in grow-
ing the broader demand for
hazelnuts, even if they serve
a niche market, said Larry
George, president of the
George Packing Co., a major
hazelnut processor.
“They are the ones doing
product development for
the industry,” George said.
“They do all kinds of things
to put hazelnuts in innovative
Larger food manufacturers
don’t want to compete directly
in the market for high-end
artisan goods, but such prod-
ucts can inspire them to incor-
porate the crop as an ingre-
dient, he said. “It gives the
R&D developers at these big
companies ideas about how
they can use hazelnuts.”
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Ranchers improve fish habitat via 25-year partnership
For the Capital Press
The Lemhi River mean-
ders for 60 miles through a
big valley in this quiet cor-
ner of Eastern Idaho before it
flows into the Salmon River.
Here, local ranchers have
been working closely with
fish experts and conserva-
tion professionals for more
than 25 years to improve
fish habitat for ESA-listed
Snake River chinook salmon
and steelhead, migrating fish
that travel more than 800
miles from here to the Pacific
Even before the fish were
protected under the Endan-
gered Species Act in the
early 1990s, Lemhi ranch-
ers wanted to do their part to
save the fish.
“I used to go down to
catch salmon all the time,”
says Don Olson, a Lemhi
rancher who’s been involved
The Nature Conservancy
Leadore, Idaho, rancher Merrill Beyeler, left, with Jeff
Diluccia of Idaho Fish and Game, plan their next project.
since the beginning. “It was
a big deal when we was
kids. We used to come down
to this pool here, and the
salmon would lodge in here,
and man you’d ride ’em and
chase ’em, and do all kinds of
fun stuff.”
Over the past 25 years,
Lemhi ranchers have teamed
up with state and federal
agencies to create primo
spawning and rearing habitat
for the fish. Major milestones
• 130 conservation proj-
ects and counting.
• Minimum stream flows
for fish passage at L-6, the
main Lemhi River diversion.
Submit upcoming ag-related events on www.cap- or by email to newsroom@capitalpress.
Society for Range Management Annual Meeting
(virtual): There will be more than 250 oral and poster
presentations, 16 symposia and 10 workshops on top-
ics like rangeland restoration, monitoring and educa-
tion, wildlife management, livestock management and
new technologies for rangeland conservation. With the
virtual platform, presentations will be recorded, made
available within minutes and can be viewed any time
after the session. Attendees can interact with present-
ers during scheduled sessions or post questions for
speakers after the presentation. Plus, those who regis-
ter for the meeting will be able to revisit presentations
years after the meeting is over. Website: http://annual-
Northwest Agricultural Show (virtual): The 51st
edition of the Northwest Ag Show will be a free digital
event featuring a daily lineup of presentations, virtual
exhibitor booths and more. The event features equip-
ment demos, networking opportunities and a sched-
ule of educational programming. Attendees have the
opportunity to live-chat and direct message with rep-
resentatives from participating companies and take
advantage of show specials. For more information, go
Idaho Hay and Forage Association Annual Confer-
ence (virtual): This is a chance for growers and others to
get an update on the industry.
USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum (virtual):
The forum includes outlooks on production, prices,
trade and trends. Website:
Making & Maintaining Healthy Pasture (vir-
tual): 6-9 p.m. Livestock nutritionist and forage special-
ist Woody Lane will join Tualatin SWCD for a three-part,
virtual workshop that will take a practical, scientific
look at grazing and pasture management. This work-
shop is appropriate for both new and experienced
managers of all types of livestock. Details and registra-
tion on the TSWCD website:
Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot
(online): National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Winter
Reboot sessions include an update on issues in Wash-
ington, D.C., and expectations with the new admin-
istration. Ten educational programs will be offered
covering topics such as sustainability, as well as a tech-
nology tool introduction. A virtual marketplace will
also be featured during the Winter Reboot to allow
attendees interaction with leading agribusinesses.
• Preserving working
lands and open space for-
ever — nearly 30,000 acres
of prime spawning areas
protected via conservation
• Over 50 miles of ripar-
ian fencing.
• Restoring water flows
to 12 tributary streams,
opening up 50-plus miles
of spawning habitat for chi-
nook salmon and 40-plus
miles of spawning habitat
for steelhead.
• Installing 110-plus fish
screens at irrigation diver-
sions to keep juvenile fish in
the river.
• Brokering 50-plus water
transactions that restored
water to tributary streams
and the main Lemhi River.
• Dozens of water effi-
ciency projects to save water
for fish, increase crop yields
and reduce labor.
• Replacing 75-plus-year-
old irrigation diversions
with fish-friendly weirs.
All this, while ensuring
that working ranches remain
working for the local tax
base and economy.
Major funding from the
Bonneville Power Admin-
istration, Pacific Coastal
Salmon Recovery Fund,
Natural Resources Conser-
vation Service, conserva-
tion organizations, Bureau
of Reclamation, Idaho Fish
and Game and many others
has been instrumental for the
conservation investments.
At least an estimated $75
million has been invested
in conservation projects
Steve Stuebner is the
writer and producer of
“Life on the Range,” a
public education proj-
ect sponsored by the Idaho
Rangeland Resources Com-
mission. To see the full story,
go to
National Dairy Board
offers college scholarship
1 year U.S. ...........................................$55
2 years U.S. ........................................$100
1 year Canada .....................................$275
1 year other countries for quote
1 year Internet only .........................$49.99
1 year 4-H, FFA students/teachers .......$30
9 months 4-H, FFA students/teachers ..$25
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The National Dairy Board
is accepting applications
for 11 college scholarships
worth $2,500 each, as well as
a $3,500 James H. Loper Jr.
Memorial Scholarship to one
outstanding recipient.
Applications are open to
undergraduate students in
their sophomore or senior
year for the 2021-2022 aca-
demic school year who are
majoring in one of the fol-
lowing fields are eligible:
communications/public rela-
tions, journalism, marketing,
business, economics, nutri-
tion, food science and agri-
culture education.
Scholarships are awarded
based on academic achieve-
ment, an interest in a career
in a dairy-related discipline,
and demonstrated leadership,
initiative and integrity.
Candidates must complete
an application form, submit
an official transcript of all
college courses, and write
a short statement describ-
ing their career aspirations,
dairy-related activities and
work experiences.
Applications can be
found at
Completed applications
must be received no later
than May 7 at 11:59 p.m.
CST. Questions about the
program can be submitted to
Markets ...................................................7
Opinion ...................................................8
Spokane Ag Show ...................................9
Water .............................................. 10-11
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