Tag: farmer

Leadership: A Family Tradition

by Mitch Lies

From left to right: Neal, Pamela, daugther Lauren Lucht

From left to right: Neal, Pamela, daugther Lauren Lucht

For Pamela Lucht, providing leadership to community and agricultural organizations is a family tradition.

Pamela, administrative manager for the family’s business, Northwest Transplants in Molalla, has served as treasurer on several boards and committees over the years, including six years as the Molalla FFA Alumni Chapter’s treasurer.

Recently, she took over as treasurer for Oregon Aglink.

“(Oregon Aglink Executive Director) Geoff Horning asked me if I would do it, and I said yes, because there was a need and I believe in what Oregon Aglink is doing,” Pamela said.

Her commitment to Oregon Aglink adds to the Lucht family’s legacy of leadership that dates back to Charlie Lucht, father of her husband, Neal.

Neal, president of the Oregon FFA Foundation and chairman of the Molalla River School District’s Board of Directors, tells a story about how he once asked Charlie why he participated in so many boards and committees.

“He looked at me incredulously and said: ‘Who else would you have do it?’ Leadership happens,” Neal said. “If the right people don’t choose to, the wrong people will. There is never an option for no leadership.’”

In addition to serving as treasurer of Oregon Aglink, Pamela and her farm participate in the organization’s popular Adopt a Farmer program.

“The Adopt a Farmer program is relatively new to us,” Pamela said, “and we are really excited about it.”

“My favorite thing is just seeing the kids get engaged and ask questions, and seeing the lightbulb come on when they start to understand the process,” said Neal and Pamela’s daughter, Lauren, who is the marketing director for Northwest Transplants.

“It is really fun to see that lightbulb come on,” added Neal, “to see that connection that somebody actually grows everything I eat.”

“I hope we are inspiring some entrepreneurship among some of those kids, too,” Pamela said.

That spirit of entrepreneurship has long been present in Northwest Transplants. The business started with just 11 greenhouses when Neal and Pamela purchased it from the Lucht family’s Crestview Farms in 1990.

Today Northwest Transplants operates 92 greenhouses, moving about 80 million seedlings a year through the operation.

The business’s origin came from the realization that the transplant technology they provide offers many benefits to producers, especially as the industry and consumer needs began to change.

“When I was growing up, we worked with transplants, but typically in old technologies,” Neal said. “We’d looked at other areas of the country and appreciated how they utilized their greenhouse plug-tray plants for field planting. But the management and production logistics had never really been thought out for the production of a variety of crops in our temperate climate.”

The farm sought advice from Oregon State Extension advisors and others, but found that no one had answers.

“They told us we really just couldn’t do it here,” Neal said. “So we spent three years working on solving the program of what combination of greenhouse management and technologies could be made into a commercial seedling production venture. We developed some of our own concepts on climate modification and greenhouse management to fit our economic resource of a seasonal climate.”

“Now we grow over 300 varieties of crops each year,” Lauren said, “including everything from medicinal herbs, such as stinging nettle, to traditional cold crops and crops that thrive in specific environments, like peppers and sweet potato.”

Although Northwest Transplants operates solely on a contract basis, its business model includes much more than simply taking orders from farmers.

“Many times we have to look at what growing trends are out there. How might we impact those crop systems for the future? What technologies can we bring with our ability to control climate to affect the outcome of that particular crop and affect its profitability?” Neal said.

“We do our research, and many times take it to our customers,” he added. ‘We are constantly managing our relationships with our customers, rather than just sitting back and waiting for a contract. We’ve always tried to stay focused on how can we grow the success of a particular grower and improve profitability on their farm.”

Northwest Transplants works with about 200 growers, both large and small, Neal said. The farm produces plugs in unique soil mixtures that are tailored for individual crops. The ingredients in their blends are sourced from all over the world. The organic mixture they produce, for example, calls for peat moss from Northeast Canada, vermiculite from South Africa or China, and another ingredient, which Neal wouldn’t reveal, from Northwest Canada.

Northwest Transplants today is in the process of completing what Neal described as the final phase of maxing out the capacity of the operation’s existing 20-acre site. The family farm recently purchased a 100-acre site across the street from its operation, which the family plans to use, at least in part, for production agriculture.

One thing certain to be in the mix for the Lucht family’s future is a continued emphasis on providing leadership to community and agricultural organizations.

“We are just really passionate about giving back,” said Lauren, who is a member of Oregon Aglink’s Adopt a Farmer Committee. “If you have the capability to lead, we believe you have the responsibility.”

 

Fourth Generation Farm Girl

By Mitch Lies

Lori & BrotherAs U.S. citizens drift further from the farm, efforts to educate urban residents about the economic, environmental and social benefits of agriculture become more valuable. That is the sentiment of Lori Pavlicek, the new president of Oregon Aglink and self-described “fourth-generation farm girl from Mount Angel.”

As president, Pavlicek said she hopes to continue growing the organization’s signature programs, including Adopt a Farmer and the Road Crop Signs, in an effort to keep with Oregon Aglink’s aim to educate urban Oregonians about agriculture.

She singled out the Adopt a Farmer program as particularly important.

“Bringing farms to urban kids who don’t have any idea of what farming is about is an integral part of our organization, and extremely important,” Pavlicek said.

The Road Crop Signs program she said also is invaluable in keeping agriculture in front of urban residents.

“It makes people look out and realize, ‘Oh, we’re in an ag area. I wonder what they grow here,’” she said. “It helps get people thinking about agriculture and where it is being done.”

Pavlicek also singled out Denim & Diamonds as a key event she plans to focus on during her tenure, both because of its fund-raising capacity and because it serves as an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that have excelled in advocating agriculture to Oregonians. The 2016 awards dinner and auction is scheduled Friday, November 18 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Pavlicek comes by her advocacy for agriculture naturally. The mother of two grew up working the family’s farm, 4B Farms, Inc., and continues to do so today, serving as office manager. She co-owns the farm with her brother, Jeff Butsch, and parents, Jim and Donna Butsch. (Pavlicek’s husband, Derek, is from an agricultural community, but works for Daimler Trucks North America.)

Pavlicek holds a bachelor’s of science degree in business from George Fox College in Newberg, and she has experience in helping start and manage a yogurt store in Tualatin. She came back to the farm in 1988 when the former office manager left the position.

The diverse farm raises hops, garlic, grass seed, filberts, squash for seed, beans and corn, among other crops.

Pavlicek’s commitment to community goes beyond her advocacy for agriculture. She also is president of the Mount Angel Community Foundation and is secretary of the Providence-Benedictine Nursing Center Board.

Pavlicek also served eighteen years on the Mount Angel Oktoberfest Board of Directors, before taking over as president of the foundation in 2010.

“I believe in community involvement,” she said. “If you don’t support your community, than you can’t expect anyone else to.”

Pavlicek said she is attracted to Oregon Aglink because of its commitment to promote the business, education and social benefits of agriculture.

“Farmers can be too busy to get involved in the promotion of agriculture, so I took an interest in that early on,” Pavlicek said. “That is where I gravitated to.”

Pavlicek also likes that Oregon Aglink stays out of politics. “It doesn’t take sides, which I think is important,” she said. “It is all about awareness of where food and fiber comes from and educating urban residents about the state’s natural resources.”

Geoff Horning, executive director of Oregon Aglink said he is excited to have Pavlicek leading the organization.

“Lori is such a great listener. She is not the most vocal person in a meeting, because she’s busy listening to the various points of view,” Horning said. “When she does speak, however, everybody in the room pays attention, because they know she’s heard the conversation from every angle and is making an informed decision or recommendation.

“We’re excited to have her leading our association over the next year,” he said.

Pavlicek, meanwhile, said she is honored to be serving as president in this, the 50th year of the organization. “This year we will be celebrating Oregon Aglink, which has been 50 years in the making,” Pavlicek said. “I’m honored to be selected as president and look forward to serving the organization in the upcoming year and beyond.”

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