The Bithell Farms Story
Dictated by Bob and Mary Bithell
Bob and Mary Bithell returned back to Oregon in 1972 after five years in Hawaii. While briefly in Hawaii, they learned to enjoy eating fresh harvested pineapple, backyard papayas and mangoes from the neighbor’s tree. When they return to the mainland they realized just how much they missed blueberries, Hood strawberries, raspberries-that easily grew in backyards and wild picked blackberries. Upon their return they settled into the small town of Boring in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. Mary and Bob quickly planted berries in their home garden and Mary and her mother, Rita, resumed making freezer jams for the family to enjoy through the dark, wet, winter months. Oh, how they had missed Oregon berries and fruits!
In 1976 a large piece of land became available, large enough for Bob to build a new home and enough land to plant berries. With Bob, being the building contractor, he now needed to learn to be a farmer and bought a tractor with implements to prepare the field for planting. He studied the best berry varieties and planting combinations and soon was on his hands and knees planting Marion Blackberries and Meeker Raspberries. It rained, the sun shone and the berries grew. The family weeded, pruned and watched as the berries bloomed. The first harvest from Bithell Farms was in the summer of 1979.
The next summer brought the first large harvest with a beautiful display of luscious, hanging berries. The berries were picked and brought to the local processing plant only to later discover that the processors fees for small batches of berries would not even cover the farm’s cost. Bob then decided to market the berries himself and spoke with his mother, Katie who lived in Utah. With Katie’s longtime friends in Nevada, Arizona and California, it was not long before the berries all sold out by word of mouth that Bob had put in cold storage. Bob quickly got a CDL drivers license, rented a semi-truck and freezer trailer and packed up the whole family- babies and all and set out to deliver the sold berries. Customers were so pleased that orders were taken at the time of delivery for the upcoming summer harvest. Bithell Farms was born.