Growing Good Fruit

Posted in Apples on Monday, August 08, 2022

Growing Good Fruit

Diamondback Acres is a gorgeous fruit farm located on a beautiful high point overlooking Lake Chelan with the Cascades in the distance. When Bill and Angel Clark first started in 1991, they primarily grew apples, but as the farm grew in acreage, they began growing cherries and blueberries. 


While the farm is special in its own right, a partnership with Cascadia Conservation District has helped it to become noteworthy for another reason: Diamondback Acres is leading the way in implementing conservation techniques for farmers. They use intensive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to reduce the use of pesticides wherever possible. Herbicide use has been eliminated from the farm, and irrigation probes allow them to save water while keeping the soil and trees at their optimum level of water saturation for bountiful production.


Planting pollinator habitats has bolstered the local bee population and helped to incorporate more native bee populations. During cold spring months, when honeybees may not leave their hives as frequently, these additional hives help keep the orchards pollinated. 


"Cascadia Conservation District has helped us find supplies to achieve our conservation goals, such as local native plant nurseries and irrigation designers," said Phil Simmons, horticulturist for Diamondback Acres. "They have also kept us updated on the most recent funding sources from grants and state programs that could cost-share for large conservation projects on the farm, like a composting site or efficient irrigation systems."  


Recently, Diamondback Acres also partnered with Salmon-Safe.

"Salmon-Safe is a leading PNW-based nonprofit that works to inspire water quality protection and habitat conservation on agricultural and urban lands and recognizes environmentally innovative producers in the marketplace," said Brian Muegge, farm certification specialist for Salmon-Safe. "Salmon-Safe works side by side with growers across the Columbia Basin, focusing on helping growers transition to more watershed-friendly farming, bolstering practices that enhance soil and riparian health, along with water quality and conservation."


These practices save water, avoid fertilizer runoff and soil erosion, and keep trees at their healthiest. 


"Salmon-Safe has helped us break into new markets, acquire grants to implement conservation measures, and set us apart from other growers for the community," said Simmons. "They have been a great source of information and contacts for conservation supplies and practices, as well as helped with marketing for our wholesale packing operation and online retail operation."


Thanks to special contributors Amanda Newell and Elizabeth 
 Jackson for compiling this story.