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Owyhee Produce tradition continues through the generations

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On July 12 new-crop Spanish Sweets started shipping out of Owyhee Produce’s Nyssa shed. Shay Myers and Robin Froerer get a close look at the onions from their truck-top perches.

NYSSA, OR — Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR, is part and parcel of the region’s onion industry and a bridge from generation to generation in the longtime Treasure Valley farming family.

Not only does the grandson of company founder Owen Froerer head up a growing onion operation that recently went year-round with its reds, whites and yellows, but he also oversees the farm’s other commodities that include asparagus and mint.

Owyhee’s biggest news, a 365-day Treasure Valley onion program, was announced at the recent PMA Fresh Summit in Atlanta, with a QR code linking readers to the company’s Facebook page.

Using the social media platform to cast a wide net for sports fans of all ages, Owyhee also rolled out its Boise State, Brigham Young University and Utah Utes college labels.

The page goes on to explain the safety of the certified pesticide-free product and highlights same- or next-day shipping. Owyhee onions are available in a variety of retail consumer packs, and produce managers can request high-graphic displays and point-of-sale materials with the officially licensed products bearing logos of the popular Western states’ teams.

Equally at home on technology’s cutting edge and in the onion fields of the family farm, Mr. Myers said he subscribes to a simple personal and professional philosophy: “If you’re not bettering yourself, you’re going backwards.”

With Robin Froerer and agent Mark Pittard handling sales, Owyhee works with both retail and foodservice markets. Mr. Myers said in July that this year’s new crop started shipping with overwinters on July 12, and its storage crop began shipping in the fall.

The addition of an 18,000-square foot temperature-controlled storage building this summer brought all onions to one location, making for better efficiency and quality control.

And that, Mr. Myers said, is one reason American onions are the world’s best.

“The most obvious reason domestic product is better than imported is food safety,” he said. “Things we consider common sense in keeping our food safe are not always common sense once you’re outside our culture.”

He added, “We really do have the best quality in the world. Our consumers demand the best quality.”

Though the 31-year-old has never known a time without technology, Mr. Myers is very aware of the contributions of those who blazed the trails.

“I think you learn from those who went before you and set a standard. And I think friendly competition today generates a desire for all of us to do better. At Froerer Farms and Owyhee Produce we are still working three generations. The American dream is contagious, and each generation wants it to be better for the next.

“Every time you add someone or something new, it changes the viewpoint and makes for interesting conversation. My grandfather started farming with two Clydesdales to plow and disc. Now he has a GPS set up, and the tractor can drive itself,” he said.

“The vision for it to be better is dependent on the coming generations,” Mr. Myers said.