WHERE IT STARTED
My grandfather purchased this land in the early 60’s and began planting hazelnut trees. Dad was 12 when the orchard was put in and he has memories of eating his lunch sandwich while filling the watering tank for the baby trees. An enthusiastic lover of biodiversity and soil heath, dad began following organic standards in the early 90’s, certifying Meridian Orchards Organic (by Oregon Tilth) in 1997. Growing up on the farm, I learned to indulge in getting my hands dirty at a young age. I am grateful my childhood was free, innocent and stinky.
Education & Travel
After an Interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Spanish, International Studies and Art, I pursued education with a degree in teaching Spanish and TESOL. My studies took me to Southern Oregon, Kansas, Mexico, Indiana, Chicago, through Central America and back to Portland where I began a Spanish teaching job. I returned to our farm in 2008 with a new sense of purpose. Discouraged by the direction I saw agriculture, education and international politics heading, I longed to be a part of something that I could align with in a more deeply meaningful way.
The conviction that food can be grown without compromise to the health and wellbeing of future generations, and for the benefit of all life on earth, is not a new sentiment; it is an enduring challenge to the status quo.
In 2010 I married David Stehman. This man is the taproot to my sunflower! We were married out in the middle of the orchard, surrounded by our family, community and trees. A few weeks before my wedding, 6 of my besties rallied with me to squish hazelnuts, cinnamon and agave into 250 little four-ounce jars of hazelnut butter I called “Fiesta butter” for our wedding gifts. Little did I know this would be the birth of Squirrelly Jane.