In the mid 1950’s a group of farmers in the Parkrose and Gresham area decided to form an organization that would help them solve some of the problems they faced. These farmers raised small fruits and fresh market vegetables and at the time OSU Extension was working mainly with the processed vegetable industry. They decided to host an annual meeting with an agenda set by the farmers. The meetings have always focused on practical information and the latest research that helps growers solve real-world problems.
A gentleman by the name of John Cavallero was instrumental in organizing the group, and OSU Extension has always helped to organize the annual meetings. The first meeting was held on February 22, 1956 at the Gresham Grange Hall. Joe Casale Sr. served as the first Treasurer. Dues for membership were $1 or $10 for associate members.
After several meetings they moved to the Gresham Armory near 242nd and Division. From there the meeting moved to the Executive Lodge by the Portland Airport, now the Airport Ramada Inn. In 2006 they met for one year at the Wilsonville Holiday Inn, then moved to their current location at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds in Canby in 2007. The Society was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in February 1986. In 2008, the meeting expanded to include an organic crops section.
Lots of people have contributed to the Society and helped make it what it is today. People like Leo Wiedaman, Jack Parsons and Bob Conroy and in recent years four Friends of the Society have been recognized. For many of us, this event is our favorite time of the year. It is a chance to renew old friendships, meet new friends and gain insights into the modern farming practices.