As local farmers struggle to make living off land, food advocates, some officials say Clark County can do more to ensure their survival.
Rob Baur remembers many weekends and summer breaks in the 1960s working on his family’s 30-acre pear orchard outside of Ridgefield. Much of his time there he spent pruning trees, and complaining about the chore to his father.
Decades later, he’s still pruning the same trees.
“Somewhere my father is laughing at me,” he said, holding a pair of pruning shears in the orchard.
At its peak, more than 4,000 pear trees grew in the orchard. Today, about 30 remain after the price of the fruit dropped dramatically in 2000, and Baur said his family made the call to use tractors to pull out most of the trees and burn them in bonfires.
Economic lessons like that abound in Clark County’s farming community. Long intertwined with the region’s history and identity, farming has enjoyed decades of success with the rich soil and temperate climates, but for the last 40 years agriculture has been in decline.