Rodney heard call to return to farming

By Wally DuChateau

During the last few years, just in case you’ve been in a coma, America has been promoting a “green revolution.” That’s especially true since Obama has taken office. For instance, the automotive industry has been completely revamped and is now producing a whole new generation of hybrid cars that give off far less pollution. As another example, the designs and and construction materials used in new homes are more “environment friendly.” Though its contribution to our overall power grid is still rather infinitesimal, there’s a rapidly expanding interest, advocacy and use of solar cells, windmills and other sources of “clean” energy.

Perhaps most surprising, families have started growing their own vegetables and fruit at a rate unseen since the early 1940s. During the Second World War, people planted apple trees and grew carrots in a million “victory gardens” scattered about their backyards, front yards, parking strips and every other vacant, postage-stamp chunk of land they could find. (Strange enough, today such projects are still called V gardens.) Needless to say, home grown food is fresher, free of artificial chemicals and tastes much better than anything you buy at the grocery store. And it’s also much cheaper and more environmentally “correct” than trucking produce here from California or Yakima on 18-wheelers.

This accounts in large part for the success of organic farmers like Rodney Call. Five years ago, Rodney retired from Boeing after 30-plus years as an industrial engineer and bought 28 acres a couple of blocks from the Krain corner, down 400th and across the road from the Krain cemetery. Initially, he plowed and planted four acres. Since then, his business has grown at an increasingly rapid pace and today he cultivates 11 acres of produce and flowers.

Rodney is an up-front, barrel-chested, heavy-set type of downhome fellow who seems much more farmer than engineer. He grows beets, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cukes, green and dry onions, corn and a 500-pound squash or two. On a more colorful side, he has peonies, dahlias, lilies, daisies and bouquet filler like baby’s breath. He sells most of his products to farmers’ markets in communities all over King and Pierce counties. In our immediate locale, he sells a lot of stuff to the country market just outside Enumclaw on state Route 169. One Saturday a few weeks ago, he cut and delivered flowers for five weddings.

Rodney tends to most of the fields himself, but occasionally hires a fellow to help him. He employs a couple who make all the deliveries and put bouquets together.

An ever-increasing part of his business comes from people who simply stop by his produce stand to buy a few things.

“People like their food fresh,” Rodney explains with a humorous grin. “Not pumped full of a bunch of chemical crap!”

If that’s how you feel, you should stop and see him. Bring a beer with you, sit down in one of his lawn chairs and shoot the breeze for a while. He’s a very interesting gentleman farmer.