I am Oregon agriculture.
My name is Helle Ruddenklau and together with my husband, Bruce, we own and operate Ruddenklau Farms near Amity, Oregon. I am a 2nd generation farmer who grew up in Denmark, but eventually came to the United States with my family, who bought a farm in Dayton. I attended Oregon State University and participated in the College of Agricultural Science exchange program with Lincoln University in New Zealand, where I met Bruce. Bruce is a 6th generation farmer, dating back to Germany, but is a 1st generation farmer here in Oregon. In 1991, Bruce and I decided to buy our own farm in Oregon and that is when Ruddenklau Farms was established. It was a struggle to get going, but after 25 years we are doing all right.
We currently grow grass seed, wheat, green beans and specialty seed crops, which include sugar beet seed, radish, peas, red clover, and meadowfoam. The grass seed is grown for the turf market, wheat for export (asian style noodles, flatbread, pastry flower), and green beans for packaged frozen vegetables. Sugar beet seed is produced for seed stock, which later is used by sugar beet growers for their beet crop and ultimately processed into sugar. The radish and peas are grown for the Japanese sprout market. Our red clover seed is used in pastures, overseeding and cover crops. Finally, meadowfoam seed is processed into a specialty oil that is used in the cosmetics industry.
Agricultural education is very important to Bruce and I, because it is imperative that we educate the next generation of voters and consumers about agriculture, so they have a better understanding of what we do and why we do it the way we do. This will help us in the future as fewer people have a direct connection to agriculture, yet they will have the ability to impact how we farm. It is also important for people to understand that we are not trying to hide anything. Farmers are willing to open up their farms and show the current production practices we are using. We are proud of what we are doing and the sustainable way we are doing it.