Durant at Red Ridge Farms
The Durants moved to this property in the late 1960’s and soon after began growing wine grapes. In 2005, the Durants planted a 17 acre olive grove and the area that was once used to raise sheep and grow garlic is now home to an olive mill, plant nursery, and gift shop. Today, they now have over 65 acres of wine grapes including several different varieties, 17 acres of olive groves including 8 different varieties, and several other acres of natural spaces including gardens. They are currently the largest olive grove in the state and have the only commercial olive mill in the state.
Wine grapes, lavender, olives, and plant nursery
Wholesale and direct sale
Ken and Penny Durant plus Paul Durant
WHAT ARE THEY DOING FOR BEES?
While olive trees are wind pollinated and do not need bees to bear fruit, they also have no natural insect pests in Oregon. This means there is no need to spray them with insecticides or herbicides, which helps to reduce stressors on pollinators. Any fungal issues which may occur require only a limited amount of certified organic copper control methods. The Durants also emphasize preventative measures - for example by starting their vines and olives with healthy plant stock. They currently grow 8 varieties of olives, with about 4 being experimental and in trials. “It’s a constant ongoing experiment with growing olives here in Oregon” states Alanna, the farm’s Nursery Specialist.
Beyond the olive grove, the farm uses natural methods such as insecticidal soap and insect bio-controls (parasitic wasps, lacewings, ladybugs, praying mantises, etc.) to manage pests inside their greenhouse and vineyard. The Durants are currently working to get their Food Alliance certification which confirms to consumers that they use sustainable growing practices.
Their farm also has a plethora of raised beds all around, with flowers that bloom year-round. This reduces stressors on pollinators by providing much needed forage during the early and late growing season. The Durants have left bare ground for ground-nesting bees and placed bee hotels around the farm for cavity-nesting bees. Their attention to native bee nesting habitat promotes bee diversity by reducing the distance between bee forage and bee habitat.
meet the farmers
Ken and Penny, along with their son Paul, are the owners. Olivia and Ava are Paul's daughters, and Ken and Penny's granddaughters. Penny is the driving force of Red Ridge Farms Nursery and Gift Shop. She is a master gardener and the one behind all the beautiful plants and gardens here on the property. “Her love of plants and providing habitat for wildlife has really made this property grow.” The Nursery Specialist, Alanna, has been in charge of collecting specimens for the Oregon Bee Project. Alanna also took some classes this year to study what plants the bees are really after. “We wanted to learn what plants to grow that really would draw the pollinators onto our farm,” she says.