MALOTT — Dave Morgan uses drip irrigation on his 40-acre organic farm near Malott and keeps a wide berth between his orchard trees and the Okanogan River.
The drip irrigation saves water, leaving more in the river for fish. The large buffer of grass, shrubs and trees between his crops and the river means fewer pesticides make their way into the water.
Still, when Morgan’s marketing cooperative talked to its members last year about getting the Salmon Safe label — which tells consumers that the farmer uses environmentally sound practices — he initially thought that even a few more requirements might just be too onerous.
Methow Valley Ciderhouse, Winthrop
Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards, Manson
Bluebird Grain Farms, Winthrop
River Willow Farm, Tonasket
Old Barn Farm, Leavenworth
Willowbrook Farm, Carlton
Applecart Fruits, Tonasket
Bunny Laine Fruit, Malott
Filaree Farm, Okanogan
Yonder Farm, Okanogan
Bartella Farm, Omak
But after a little investigation, Morgan learned that without a lot of work, or too much cost, he could certify his Bunny Laine Fruit farm as Salmon Safe. He figured customers at some of the natural food stores that he sells to might recognize it, and convince them to buy his product over someone else’s. So, Morgan decided to try out the program to help him sell more of his crops directly, instead of sending them to a warehouse to be marketed.
Many farmers, by nature, are environmentally conscious, said Jeri Timm, Salmon Safe coordinator for Trout Unlimited. “A lot of them would be surprised at how close they come” to qualifying for the Salmon Safe label.
Morgan said the biggest change he had to make was to move his pigs and pony away from the Okanogan River.
He and his wife, Karen Beller, grow about 30 different crops on their farm, including 16 acres of apples, 10 acres of pears, and 2 acres of stone fruit. The rest are in berries, corn and other garden vegetables.
He sells about 80 percent of his fruits and vegetables directly to stores or consumers, with the other 20 percent going to warehouses to sell.
His direct markets include U-Pick sales, selling to natural food stores in Wenatchee and Western Washington, and selling directly to customers through CSAs — community-supported agriculture markets — where customers sign up for weekly baskets.
He also does a lot of on-farm processing, including his own Bunny brand butters — as in pear butter — and jams.
Morgan said getting involved with Salmon Safe was mostly a marketing tool for him.
“Hopefully, Salmon Safe will mean something to some of the people we sell to on the coast,” he said.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512