Kiyokawa Orchards sits at the base of Mt. Hood, with 187 acres stewarded by Randy Kiyokawa, a third-generation orchardist the operation has been running since 1911 and growing over 100 different varieties of apples and pears, including 15 varieties of Asian Pears.
The Middle Fork Irrigation District supplies water to orchards and other crops in this region of the Upper Hood River Valley. Along the way, glacier water from Mt. Hood is routed through three hydroelectric plants, which, with turbines running at capacity, can produce the average energy used by 880 all electric homes.
A Holistic Approach
Kiyokawa takes a holistic approach to orchard management, combining water, air quality and wildlife habitat conservation practices to produce high-quality pears, apples and other fruits. More than 75 percent of the orchard grounds utilize a micro or drip irrigation system with estimated savings of up to 30 percent, a win-win solution of water usage reductions without sacrificing yields. Bringing his trees’ lifecycle full circle, pruned organic material is chopped or chipped and incorporated back into the soil instead of being burned.
With orchard lands situated along Evans Creek, Kiyokawa has invested in maintaining a generous riparian boundary, with substantial habitat providing food and cover for local animal populations. In an innovative take on pest control, the orchards host American Kestral nesting boxes, encouraging the birds as management for insects and small mammals. A flower garden featuring native plants draws natural pollinators including bees, hummingbirds and butterflies.
Kiyokawa Orchards’ holistic practice of orchard care and water management allows them to reduce chemical and fertilizer use, and to conserve water resources at the base of Mt. Hood. With a mission of reliable and economical delivery of water in a manner that promotes conservation within the broad goal of watershed health and stewardship of the natural resources, the Middle Fork Irrigation District works with local growers to promote conservation efforts, provide strategies to reduce water use in orchard operations, and redirect additional water to stream through-flow. Creative, holistic agricultural management like that at Kiyokawa Orchards is the ideal partnership, realizing conservation benefits along with economic savings.