A Long History of Production
As one of the largest employers in Southern Oregon, Bear Creek Orchards– home to the Harry & David brand in Medford– has been growing Comice pears in its orchards since 1910. The Orchard cultivates more than 1,600 acres of Comice pears, with an additional 55 acres growing peaches and 60 acres of Bosc pears.
The Benefits of Early Adoption
In the early 1980s, the Orchard stepped up as an innovator in water use and conservation by controlling sediment runoff and moving away from flood irrigation. The conversion to a solid set sprinkler irrigation system was complete by 1995 and continues to be refined with new systems.
Putting an automated subsurface drip system in place reduced water consumption by more than 30 percent and can increase efficiency to nearly 100 percent. Drip and micro sprinklers also give the fruit trees’ root systems just the right amount of water while reducing and virtually eliminating runoff that could deposit sediment, nutrients, pesticides and herbicides into nearby Bear Creek.
Harry & David values flexibility in its water management practices. With more than 100 years in the region, they know conditions change constantly and successful growers must adapt to new water management systems. The goal is always to achieve the most efficient balance between soil, topography, root system and water resource availability.
Community Collaborations and Success
The company is an active participant in the local habitat for sustainable farming community, managing significant acreage as natural buffers that support beneficial insects and birds of prey, thereby reducing the uses of pesticides and pest controls. Harry & David also has worked with local landowners, state and federal agencies, and conservation advocates to develop salmon-rearing habitat through the restoration of Rogue River stream channel environments. Its participation in the Water for Irrigation, Streams and the Economy (WISE) Project represents a commitment to improving water reliability, quantity, quality and utilization for native salmon populations.
Harry & David’s ongoing active investment in its water management systems provides leadership and innovation throughout the region. And, as the Rogue Valley sees reduced and inconsistent water availability during drought cycles, planned and efficient water use ensures successful crop production regardless of the weather.
With what is largely a single-variety growing operation, success relies on excellence and efficiencies at all stages of the process. The fact that Harry & David has a strong commitment to environmentally conscious business and conservation efforts demonstrates that practices like efficient water management are good for both the business and the environment.