Gilmore Farms is owned by Pam and Dean Gilmore and is truly an amazing story. Read below to find out how Pam and Dean got started and just what they think about their farm, the industry, and the things family farmers face. Gilmore Farms is located at 4261 W. Fir Road, Pasco WA 99301.
How long has the farm been in business and why did you start farming?
My (Pam’s) dad moved our family here in the early 50’s and my parents joined the other hard working pioneers who turned this dry desert into productive farm land. Those were hard years and nobody got rich. My parents worked hard just to hang on to the farm. Dean & I have been married for 42 years and although Dean always worked in some form of agriculture we always dreamed of having a farm of our own. That dream was realized in 1987. That’s when we planted our first apple trees on land we leased from my dad. Over the years we have purchased the entire farm except for a small corner that my sister and her husband own. Currently we have 140 acres of orchard ground. Another 130 acres is canyon and pasture where our six horses hang out.
What is special about your farm?
We are one of the very few remaining “small farms”. Most of the farms around us are now owned by large corporations. Many other family farms have at least one member working an outside job to provide needed income and benefits, or they still own the farm but hire someone else to manage it. We survive solely on income from our farm and we are both very involved in the day to day operations. We each have our own strengths that we utilize to our best in order to make things work. The farm is not our hobby. It is our life.
What obstacles have you overcome in your farming business?
We went through many years with a lot of debt while still trying to grow and make improvements to the farm. There were several years when prices were so bad we struggled to make ends meet. That’s when we got involved with the Pasco Farmers Market. It helped generate money for groceries and essentials for our family. We saw it as another way to diversify and have now dedicated a portion of the farm exclusively to varieties for the market. We have close to 70 varieties in all.
What advice do you have for those starting in farming?
You cannot do it for the money. You have to do it for the lifestyle which includes a lot of hard work and uncertainty. It is extremely challenging but is also very rewarding to see the results of your labor. This is true for any type of self-employment and life itself. You have to be willing to sacrifice in order to reach your goal.
How do you educate people on the need for the family farm?
The Farmer’s Market is an excellent venue to bring the farm to the people. We answer so many questions about our fruit and farming. Many people are really interested in what we do. Society as a whole has become so disconnected with how our food is grown and where it comes from. Sadly, the family farm is becoming a rarity in America. Larger forms of agriculture can sometimes be more efficient and that’s what seems important in business, however, the personal involvement and attention to detail is sometimes missing in such operations. We hope that our children will be able to continue this legacy.