Washington Grown Magazine - July 2023

Page 1


Cherries Midsummer Magic the of


A "Goldilocks" region for sweet cherries

Her parents were farmworkers. Now she owns the farm

Macrina Bakery is about to be your new favorite

Puzzles and games related to this issue!


Everyone knows Washington grows the sweetest cherries. But how does a notoriously fickle fruit tree flourish and produce record harvests in the semidesert eastern half of the state?


LEGEND HAS IT that Lucullus, the ancient Roman general renowned for his extravagant feasts, met a tragic end when he reportedly took his own life after he realized he had eaten the last of his cherished supply of cherries. He simply couldn’t stomach the thought of a life without the sweet crimson fruits. Nearly 1,500 years later, King Charles V of France planted over 1,000 cherry trees in his gardens at St. Paul and Tournelle. While the details of these tales remain uncertain, one thing is clear: the allure of cherries has captivated hearts throughout history. Fast forward to the present day, and the enchantment surrounding these delectable fruits continues to flourish in the bountiful orchards of Washington state.

full of Cherries

What is it about cherries that inspires such devotion? Perhaps it's the tender balance between their vibrant hues and their tantalizingly sweet flavors that ignites our senses. From the delicate blush of Rainier cherries to the rich crimson of Bing cherries, each bite delivers a burst of natural sweetness, evoking a symphony of sensations on the palate.

But it is not just their taste that sets cherries apart. Cherries symbolize nature's exquisite craftsmanship, nurtured by the fertile soil, abundant sunshine, and irrigation water sources that grace the landscapes of Washington state. Here, generations of skilled farmers have cultivated an art form, dedicating themselves to the delicate task of tending to these temperamental trees, carefully coaxing forth the fruits of their labor. And while cherries grow all over the state, two regions in particular have emerged as the largest producers: Yakima Valley and the Chelan area.


The first cherry trees arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1847 on the back of a covered wagon. A pioneer named Henderson Lewelling loaded 700 fruit tree saplings in his wagon and made the journey over the Oregon Trail. When he arrived in the Portland area, he established a nursery of fruit trees, selling trees for $1.50 each to the never-ending steam of settlers. The Lewelling family was so prominent in the cherry tree trade that Henderson’s brother, Seth, is credited with developing the famous Bing cherry, named after his Manchurian foreman, Ah Bing.

Those trees made their way to the homesteads of Eastern Washington, and in the years since, they’ve grown from small saplings to a gigantic industry. More than 90% of the sweet cherries grown in America come from the Pacific Northwest and California, with Washington leading the way in total production. In 2021, Washington farmers produced 231,650 tons of cherries, with a value of $476 million. Sweet cherry orchards are most abundant in the Wenatchee and Yakima valleys, but can be found throughout Big Bend Country and throughout the Columbia Basin.

"It's fair to say that Eastern Washington is sort of a 'Goldilocks' climate for growing cherries," said B.J. Thurlby, president of the Washington State Fruit Commission. "And that perfect climate is really important because it's a fickle fruit to grow. Cherry growers are like the riverboat gamblers of the agricultural world, because a single cold night in March can devastate your season."

So with all that risk, why did cherries take off so strongly in the Evergreen State? Much of the success of cherry growers is due to the unique climate of Eastern Washington, where the winters are cold, the summer days are hot, and the summer nights are chilly. The sweet cherry tree

must experience sufficient winter chilling in order to properly break dormancy and bloom over a relatively few days in the summer.

"The cold winters around here mean that we can’t grow 12 months out of the year, but they’re really important for tree fruit," said Thurlby. "It gives those trees enough chilling hours to rest over the course of the winter. We get into trouble in those years where it goes from 75 degrees to freezing within a week or two. The trees aren’t yet ready to go dormant, and so the buds are damaged, and trees are lost. Those kind of winters happen every 7-10 years. But the last few years, we’ve had some really nice, mild falls."

On top of that, the combination of hot summers with adequate irrigation is a huge factor. Cherry trees need a significant amount of water – around 42” of rainfall per season. But too much water triggers mildew and disease, so areas with unpredictable amounts of heavy rain are problematic. The ingenious irrigation techniques that bring water from rivers like the Columbia, the Yakima, and the Naches provide enough to keep the trees hydrated, but the Cascade "rain shadow" keeps them from getting too much unexpected moisture.

"Really, those two main growing areas are very similar in that aspect," said Thurlby. "The major difference between Yakima Valley and Chelan is just timing; the harvest in Chelan is about two weeks later. But even that works for our benefit. It means we can stretch out our 'peak season' for consumers buying cherries in the grocery store."

Eastern Washington is truly a "Goldilocks" area for growing cherries: not too hot or too cold, not too dry or too wet. Just right.


bowls & bowls & bowls & bowls & bowls & bowls

All of the cherries grown in Washington are picked by hand, because it’s the best way to avoid bruising and maintain the quality. They usually come off the tree in small clusters, which are made into singles once on the packing line.
JULY 2023 5

fruits the savoring


CHERRY SEASON HAS ARRIVED! Few treats compare to a tree-ripened, Washington state cherry on a hot summer day. Juices flow from the tiny morsels, exploding with flavor. Many share memories of enjoying a cherry pie for Independence Day, licking a cherry ice cream cone to cool off, or eating enough fresh cherries to make their guts ache while playing in the summer sun.

Washington is known for its sweet cherry crop and the quality of cherries it delivers to the market each year. Farmers like Flor Maldonado, a second-generation orchardist from Tonasket, ensure the success of Washington cherries each year.

Maldonado’s family started as farmworkers in the tree-fruit industry when she was a child. Growing up alongside her seven brothers and two sisters, their parents were struggling to support their growing family on a farmworker’s wage. They nearly decided to return to Mexico. However, Flor’s parents capitalized on a first-time farmer loan program through the Farm Service Agency, allowing them to move their family to Tonasket, where they started their cherry operation.

From the child of farmworkers to a thriving orchardist, Flor Maldonado is a picture of the American Dream.

Flor’s parents were adamant that their children get an education, so Flor headed off to Washington State University to study agriculture. "My parents thought I was crazy … I thought I was going to be a doctor, until I realized, you know what? I love this lifestyle," she said. Today, as the owner and operator of M&A Farms, you can find Flor in the office and in the field working side by side with her employees, lending her knowledge and experience to grow some of the best cherries money can buy.

Cherries can be a lucrative business, but they are a significant gamble. The weather greatly impacts M&A Farms' harvests due to how sensitive cherries can be. "There are a lot of ways you can lose your crop,” said Flor. Moisture, combined with fast, hot weather, can cause the cherries to split. Heavy winds can knock the cherries off the trees entirely. As summers continue to set record highs, cherries continue to be vulnerable to drying out on the trees. As all farmers can attest, every year is a gamble, and there’s always a chance of crop failure.

Fortunately for M&A Farms, they have the ability to sell to multiple markets. Their best cherries are picked and sold to the fresh market like those delicious cherries we love to snack on. M&A Farms also sells directly to processors. These cherries are often fruit that has experienced more stress due to heat or wind and are of lower quality but are still excellent for freezing, chopping, and juicing. Think pie fillings, ice creams, preserves, and fruit juices.

Flor’s journey from a farmworker’s child to a thriving orchardist at M&A Farms encapsulates the essence of Washington state’s cherished cherry season. As the sweet aroma of freshly picked cherries fills the air, Flor’s dedication and expertise ensure that these delectable fruits reach the market each year. Despite the inherent risks involved in growing cherries, Flor’s unwavering commitment, inherited from her hardworking parents, has propelled M&A Farms to flourish. Whether you indulge in a luscious cherry pie, savor a cooling ice cream cone, or simply enjoy the plump cherries under the sun, let us not forget the tireless efforts of farmers like Flor and the Maldonado family who have cultivated a legacy of success for their loved ones, community, and the entire industry.

Host Tomás Guzmán (left) and the Washington Grown crew visited M&A Farms to learn more about cherry harvest in Season 9. Find the full episode on wagrown.com.

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KIRO (Seattle)

Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Mondays at 2:30 pm or livestream Saturdays at 2:30 pm on kiro7.com kiro7.com

NCW Life Channel (Wenatchee) Check local listings ncwlife.com


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*Times/schedules subject to change based upon network schedule. Check station programming to confirm air times.

wagrown.com @wagrowntv Visit us online! Watch the show online or on your local station


Apple &

6 Granny Smith apples


(peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch slices)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Double-crust pie dough, purchased or homemade

2 cups pitted Bing cherries

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or granulated sugar (for topping)

Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Cherry Pie

Complexity: Easy • Time: 1 hr 45 minutes • Serves: 8

Treat yourself to a slice of summer bliss with Macrina Bakery's exquisite, double-crusted apple and cherry pie, perfect for any occasion. The tantalizing aroma and enchanting presentation will make you the hero of any gathering, leaving mouths watering and hearts content. Prepared pie dough, which Macrina sells at their bakeries, is an ideal shortcut for this recipe. Otherwise, use your favorite double-crust pie dough recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the apples in a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon and toss well to evenly coat the apples. Scatter the apples on the baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 20 minutes. Set the apples aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 400 F.

Roll out half of the pie dough to a round that will extend about 2 inches beyond the edge of the pie pan (i.e. a 14-inch circle for a 10-inch pan). Line the pie pan with the dough so that the overhang is even around the edge.

Combine the apples and cherries in a large bowl and stir to mix. Transfer to the pie pan, spreading them out evenly, and dot the top with the

pieces of butter. In a small dish, mix the egg and water with a fork until evenly blended.

Roll out the remaining dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut a round the same size as the pie pan. With the tip of a small knife, cut 4 or 5 vents in this round. Lay this round on the fruit and brush it lightly with egg wash. Fold the outer edges of the bottom dough over and pinch with your fingers to seal the two layers. Brush this crimped edge lightly with egg wash. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top of the pie.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking until nicely browned and juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes longer. Let cool before serving. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.




Macrina Bakery has become a cherished Seattle gem with its five inviting locations. If you find yourself in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, Downtown, Sodo, or Southcenter, don't miss the chance to indulge in some delightful baked goods, lovingly handcrafted to showcase the best of Washington's fresh ingredients.

As you step through the doors, the sight of an array of delectable treats may leave you pondering, "Perhaps I'll treat myself to one of each." And rest assured, the experience is worth every bite. Enthusiastic patrons can't help but praise the bakery's commitment to using fresh ingredients, making it a must-stop destination in a lively and welcoming neighborhood.

Leslie Mackie, the founder and owner of Macrina Bakery, has poured her heart and soul into perfecting pastries, bread, and an assortment of baked goods over nearly three decades. Macrina Bakery's warm and modern ambiance strikes a perfect and inviting balance, which is a major factor in why the small bakery has blossomed into an enduring Seattle institution.

"We started in Belltown in 1993," she said. "I wanted something a little bit smaller scale, so I opened Macrina thinking like, oh, I can take a month off each year. I expected that this was going to be a part of my life, not my entire life."

But the irresistible selection of signature pastries meant that Macrina’s customers had other ideas, and quickly, Mackie’s original bakery had to open additional locations. The menu boasts signature favorites and tantalizing new additions, each leaving a lasting impression on delighted taste buds. Whether it’s the heavenly crostini, the blueberry scones, or the harvest bread that has become a local sensation, Macrina Bakery delivers on its promise of creating fun, top-notch culinary delights that are made from the freshest ingredients.

"A couple years ago, I was invited to go to a raspberry harvest. I've always used individually quick-frozen (IQF) fruit," Mackie said. "But I didn't understand the integrity or the innovation behind the whole industry. Oh my goodness, my eyes were just totally opened up. We got to go on a harvester in the fields in the middle of July. Truly, it's a four-hour turnaround from the time when it's harvested, cooled down, washed, flash frozen, and then packaged. And so the freshness is just terrific."

Macrina Bakery has become a beloved cornerstone of the Seattle community, offering an affordable luxury and a genuine taste of Washington. Step into this sweet haven, escape the daily bustle, and embark on a delectable journey that will leave you craving more.



Visit our website and sign up to be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to Macrina Bakery in Seattle!

*Limit one entry per household


3.Roots, trunk, branches

4.Nicknamed "Apple of Big Dreams"

6.A sweet tree fruit grown in Washington

7.Fertile valley in central WA

8.Buy breads, desserts here


1.Don't forget to slice this round dessert

2.The most important part of a pie

5.Supply water to a crop to make it grow


It is thought that sweet cherries originated in the region between the Black and the Caspian seas. That region, including Turkey, is still the largest cherry-producing region in the world.

Sweet cherries are found to reduce inflammation. Human feeding trials point to the fact that cherries really do strengthen the immune system and help fight diseases like gout and arthritis.



Researchers work outside of the spotlight to help growers succeed.


THE CLIMATE AND SOIL CONDITIONS of Washington state create a wonderful puzzle, and when farmers are able to solve the puzzle, they’re rewarded with harvests that rival any other growing region in the world. Tree fruits, in particular, seem to thrive in the state, with orchards of apples, cherries, pears, and nectarines dotting the landscape in every corner.

But the success of tree fruit growers in the state is no accident. Researchers from the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission help to put together puzzle pieces, making it possible for orchardists to get the best from their land. They take the latest scientific breakthroughs and work with farmers to create new best practices that will result in better fruit, higher yields, and a more prosperous industry.

"We are kind of this in-between between scientists, the grower community, and businesses," said Ines Hanrahan, the executive director of the commission. "It’s all with the goal of helping to create solutions for growers so they can maintain profitable businesses."

And they have certainly helped Washington growers, who feed consumer demand in not only the United States, but also in export markets throughout the world. For apples, pears, and cherries alone, the total value of production in Washington is more than $2.5 billion [1] .

One of their most recognizable, successful initiatives has been the Cosmic Crisp apple variety. Work done by the Tree Fruit Research Commission helped get this apple into the hands of consumers.


"We actually decided to start an apple-breeding program in the mid-90s because the growers wanted to have an apple that was better adapted for our growing climate," said Hanrahan. "The Tree Fruit Research Commission funded this breeding program for 20 years, and the apple was released in 2019 and is such a success. Basically, we provided 20 years of startup funding, and now, they're on their own, and everybody profits from it."

The apple, nicknamed "the Apple of Big Dreams," has been a huge success, cracking the top 10 apples in the United States (ranked by sales value and volume) less than five years after being commercially introduced. Positive reviews of the apple note that it has an extremely long storage life, and it keeps its sweet flavor for up to a year in the refrigerator.

The commission does much more than just inventing new varieties of apple. Some of the research that they do includes developing a spray-free mating disruption technique that limits the effect of the invasive codling moth in organic apples, implementing new thinning methods to improve the quality of the fruit, and research with MCP (1-methylcyclopropene), an ethylene-blocking agent that may extend the storage life of stored fruits. Hanrahan thinks the commission would be a great landing place for any aspiring young scientists.

"This is a place where you can send your kids where they will have a good future," she said. "Sign them up for ag degrees, sign them up for engineering degrees and roboticists. It's a great way to bring together all different sciences."

WASHINGTON GROWN MAGAZINE JULY 2023 15 [1] https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/ Washington/Publications/Fruit/2023/FRUIT.pdf

trees! grow your own fruit

Trees are wonderful to grow in your backyard. They provide you with shade, and if you plant fruit trees, they provide you with something to eat. We interviewed gardening expert Whitney Jacques to find out how to take care of backyard fruit trees.

What are the basics of caring for a newly planted fruit tree?

When you plant your tree, you want to make sure that you can see a visible root flare. At the base of your tree, you should be able to see the top of the roots of your tree. Now, this allows for some airflow. Trees require water and air for health. Not as much water as your lawn, so you want to just make sure that you're watering your tree about once a week. You want to make sure that you're soaking the area that the canopy covers.

Why does my tree have a scar on the bottom?

All modern trees, basically, if you purchase it at a nursery, are grafted. You'll see on the tree they have a scar

line where you have the original rootstock and then the grafted sci on that's on the tree. Now, this is a great place to watch to make sure that nothing is happening with your tree that would need a professional to come in and take care of it.

What do you mean 'take care of it'?

If you have sprouts coming out around the base of your tree, that means that there's something wrong with the graft on your tree. So, that's something that would need to be diagnosed to make sure that nothing's happening. You want to look for somebody who's an ISA Certified Arborist, and that's an international standard. They're very well educated. They go through rigorous testing, and they would be the person that you would want to call.

Marketing Director Brandy Tucker Editor Kara Rowe Assistant Editor Trista Crossley Art Designers Jon Schuler Writers Maya Aune Jon Schuler Cynthia Nims Images Macrina Bakery Shutterstock Washington State Historical Society Spokane County Library Washington Grown Executive Producers Kara Rowe David Tanner Chris Voigt Producer Ian Loe Hosts Kristi Gorenson Tomás Guzmán Val Thomas-Matson
The Washington Grown project is made possible by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant program, through a partnership with the state’s farmers.

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