In the heart of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley, Bill and Karla Chambers founded Stahlbush Island Farms. In the summer of 1985 the newlyweds planted two crops.
“We put our heart and soul into ensuring that our land will be fertile, healthy, and bountiful for future generations.” ~ Karla S. Chambers
Recognizing the need for the freshest fruits and vegetables possible, the husband-wife owners elected to enter the frozen market. After extensive research they discovered that fresh produce travels an average of 15 days before it reaches the consumer. Bill and Karla wanted their produce to fully mature on the vine. Fully vine-ripened produce has vibrant colors, natural brix, and bold flavors. The couple built a food processing facility on the farm to lock in a ‘just picked’ fresh taste using a special freezing process called Individually Quick Frozen or IQF.
“Sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” ~ Based on “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development,” United Nations, 1987
The first sustainably grown fruits and vegetables hit the market in 1997. Five years later, the company expanded into the Farmer’s Market brand of organic purees. Stahlbush received its first organic certification by Oregon Tilth in 2003. In 2009 Stahlbush Island Farms turned agricultural waste into energy with the first Biogas Plant of its kind in North America. One year later, Stahlbush released the first 100% biodegradable freezer bag. The packaging was not patented because the family wanted to encourage others to adopt it as well.
“It’s a closed loop cycle. We’re producing electricity, using the engine exhaust to make steam and blanch our vegetables, taking the hot water out of the jacket for our food processing plant and keeping the digester warm, using the hot air that radiates off the engine to dry seeds with. And we’re getting a rich wet and dry fertilizer as a byproduct.” ~ Bill Chambers
The plant produces enough energy to power the farm and approximately 1,100 homes or nearly twice the amount needed for the farm and food processing plant. The leftover agricultural matter from the biogas plant is then used to fertilize the dozens of crops spread out over nearly 5,000 acres that comprises today’s farm. Bill and Karla have raised four children on the farm. Today, the pair still live and work on the farm.