Grower Highlight: The Chambers Family
Rod Chambers knows agriculture; over the last 60 years he has spent his whole life growing nearly every signature Oregon crop—vegetables, vegetable seeds, grass seed and now hazelnuts. In the early 2010s, he was looking for a spark, a new challenge in the farming world, and he found it in hazelnuts.
Fortunately, the Chambers family has called the lush Willamette Valley home for several generations, and they were surrounded by knowledgeable farmers. They began investigating and learning from their neighbors. In 2012 they finally took the plunge and planted their first 12 acres of Yamhill/Sacajawea hazelnuts. Rod admits they made several mistakes in this first year, but that is par for the course for any farmer. They learned from this trial and error and expanded ambitiously over the next six years.
During the expansion, Rod’s son, Justin, joined the farm as a full-time partner. Together, along with the support of their spouses, they steadily developed the acreage. Being a family farm has always been integral to the Chambers family, and even in his mid-80s, Rod’s father, Dee, still loves to jump on a tractor and help. He was the original founder of the farm in 1952.
Typically, hazelnut trees begin producing sizable quantities of nuts in their fifth year, and the Chambers family has only recently begun seeing the fruits of their labor; they are scratching the surface of a promising enterprise. As of 2020, the hazelnut acres stand at 140, along with many acres of other crops, including grass seed and vegetable seed production.
In addition to the daily activities in the field, the Chambers stay busy with other projects tied to the farm. Rod helps manage the operations of Cascade Foods—a hazelnut processor near Albany, Oregon. Justin operates his own YouTube channel—Rainfall Projects—that, among other things, gives visitors a peak behind the curtain at their farm.