Oregon Grower Highlight


Casey Grogan


1. How did you start growing Christmas Trees? Did you know someone? (What was it like growing up in the tree business, did you work as a child?)


My parents started the farm in 1976, when I was six months old, so I guess you could say I grew up in the Christmas tree business. During summers, my friends would come out and I would run a crew putting sticks in Noble fir tops. I think it not only taught me hard work, but also a love for the outdoors and working in the outdoors. The worst part of my day is when I have to sit in the office. But that's part of the job too.


2. Did you go to college for a degree or straight to the fields after high school?


After high school, I went to Oregon State University and received a degree in Agricultural Business Management.


3. Did you always know this was what you wanted to do or was there time spent away from the farm?


During college, I was unsure what I wanted to do. It took some time soul searching and experiencing life to know that being a Christmas tree farmer was my calling. After college, I would come back and work on the farm for a bit to make some money and then go explore. I spent time working as a bell boy in a ski town and backpacked around Europe and Australia. Getting away like that taught me how beautiful the area is where we live and how unique Christmas tree farming is. I also spent some time living in Portland and that is definitely not my thing.


4. Tell us about your operation please. How big, target market, etc.?


We are currently farming about 400 acres. We grow about 70 percent Noble fir and 30 percent Nordmann fir. Our target market is independent retailers and garden centers. We also sell a portion of our trees to other growers and brokers. We are a family farm and only grow Christmas trees. I manage most of the production. Dad and I work on sales together and mom keeps the books and all of us in line. My wife, Tawnya, is a massage therapist and has recently been getting more involved in the farm. My brother, Cory, also helps out during harvest. We also have a great crew and many of them have been working with us for decades.


5. Please tell us about your family.


My wife, Tawnya, and I have been married for seven years. I have step son, Trenton, he is 22 years old. I guess at this point our old hound dog, Timber, is part of the family as well. We live on what used to be an old dairy farm. We have spent countless hours fixing it up and it is now beginning to look like a Christmas tree farm.


6. What interests/hobbies do you have when not at work?


I love snow skiing. It makes winters more bearable when I know the rain I am working in is also making snow in the mountains. I enjoy playing basketball, hiking, fishing, golfing and going to O.S.U. Beaver sporting events. Tawnya and I love music and have a large record collection. I also like working in the shop. I do all the equipment maintenance for the farm.


7. As the next president of the PNWCTA, what do you see as three of the biggest challenges?

Stabilizing funding - Our association will have to deal with funding issues due to a smaller membership. On the positive side, it appears membership has bottomed out and hopefully will begin to move in the other direction.

Increasing value to members - We will have to really think outside the box and be creative to keep things fresh and add value to our association. I would love to see our website become a better resource for members. We have a ton of good information, it's just not posted or is hard to find.

Better involving retailers - It's a challenge to keep retailers engaged. I think if we can show them that we are a resource for them, as well as growers, we will have a stronger organization.


8. What three things do you think the PNWCTA is doing really well?

Representing its members - I think there have been great accomplishments as our association advocated for us over the years. Some examples of this are:

  • Keeping Mexico and other markets open during a time of oversupply.
  • Getting a full-time extension agent at Oregon State University.
  • Giving growers the ability to choose whether or not to pay overtime.

Research - Looking for ways to grow better trees is one of the foundations of our association. If not for the research and university partnerships of this association, the trees that are grown in the Northwest today would look very different, and not in a good way.

Being frugal - Being a part of the board has shown me how hard our association works to not waste a penny of its members' money. I can't say we are perfect, but we try very hard to spend member revenue in a wise way.


9. If I made you king for a day, what three things you would change about our industry, locally or nationally?


I would get better information and data (both locally and nationally) so that we have facts to help guide our industry. Specifically, a few of things I would do are: