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Tomatoes ripe at Wednesday market

Gaston farm provides Oregon Star variety in Forest Grove


by: COURTESY PHOTO - Charlie Harris of Flamingo Ridge Farm in Gaston and sales assistant Brooke Miller sell Oregon Star tomatoes at the Forest Grove Farmers Market. To-may-toes, to-mah-toes — however you pronounce the red ripe fruit, you’re missing out if you haven’t tasted an Oregon Star tomato from Gaston's Flamingo Ridge Farm, which can be found at the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of the nonprofit Adelante Mujeres.

In 1984, Charlie Harris, the farmer behind Flamingo Ridge, moved to Oregon looking for a new life. “I felt the potential here,” he said, and with that, in 1986 Flamingo Ridge was born.

Harris grows a variety of vegetables, but he is best known for his tomatoes. The Oregon Star variety, which were first developed at Oregon State University in the mid-1980s, come in all shapes and sizes. Each one offers a delicious, meaty texture with no seeds. Harris farms using only organic methods. “It’s not because it’s trendy, it’s because that’s how I grow,” he said. However, “after the government got involved in the organic certification process,” Harris said he did not care to renew his certification.

Harris is a busy guy, often starting his day at 2 a.m. to make his deliveries to 50 restaurants, Bon Apetit and Portland area Zupan’s stores. He sells between 165,000 to 200,000 pounds of produce each year, so most weeks his family or friends help by selling at local farmers markets.

“Food is like family, and anyone who touches food at any level knows what it’s like and how much hard work it takes,” Harris said.

Much of Harris’s success has come from the vast network of friends he has made in the area — and that’s one of the reasons why he continues to sell at farmer's markets. “At the Forest Grove market, people know us, I know people, and it’s in our backyard. It’s nice to be supported by the local community and I try to support this community as much as I can,” he said.

Harris was having breakfast with a group of friends when one of them picked up a pink book of matches that read “Flamingo Ridge” — and someone suggested it would be a great business name. “I’m an impulse kind of guy, and if it feels right then I go with,” Harris said, so he ran with it.

Flamingo Ridge tomatoes are available at the Forest Grove Farmers Market from 4 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday through October.



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  • 22 Oct 2014

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