High-Technology Apple Farming

Around the turn of the century, my grandfather, Philip Gibbons Sr., came out from Pennsylvania and took up farming. He worked on several farms as a manager until he was able to purchase his own. Sometime around 1920-30 he purchased an orchard outside of Milton-Freewater, Oregon. When he retired, my father, Wilbur Gibbons, purchased the farm from him. My father expanded the farm by purchasing 10 more acres to make a total of 30. A few years after I was born, a freeze in the fall of 1955 wiped out all the trees. The orchard was replanted and we farmed row crops of tomatoes for a few years until the trees came into production. We had several types of trees including prunes, cherries and apples.

The farm did fairly well until the mid 1960's when there were several spring freezes. These froze the fruit blossoms and only wiped out the crop. We had to live on my mother's income while my father worked at other odd jobs. The best years for the farm were in the 1970's while I was away at college.

I never did have much interest in farming. My father was as headstrong as I am and we could never cooperate well enough to work together. I took a liking to computer control systems and built two businesses, of which Mt. Hood Software is one. When he died in 1991, I found myself in possession of the farm. Only 10 acres was planted in newer trees, 10 acres was in trees from 1955 and the rest was bare. If I wanted to keep the farm I would need to do something quick or else sell it. He had passed on a small amount of money to me and I decided to go ahead and improve the farm.

(Story continues with pictures.)

© James S. Gibbons 1987-2015