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Klann family has pioneering roots

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Luelling family pictured on their homestead north of Madras.By Katie Ralls

Ag contributor

The monthly ag column will be highlighting local ag families every other month in addition to its agricultural education articles. It is important to not only know where your food comes from, but also to be able to put a picture and story to the face of those who produce it. This month the Klann family from Madras is featured.

The Klann family comes from a long line of agriculturists, reaching back to the original Luelling family, Quaker plantation owners who also happened to be staunch Abolitionists. As the Civil War loomed closer, the family escaped west, establishing an orchard/Underground Railroad stop in the town of Salem, Iowa. In 1846, Henderson Luelling built two narrow boxes that fit into the bed of his wagon, filled each with charcoal, manure, and earth...apples, pears, plums, cherries, quinces, grapes, and other fruits ... and with his family, set out on the Oregon Trail to start over once again.

People thought he was crazy, but Henderson Luelling, his family, and fruit trees, survived the journey along the trail, settling in Oregon City and establishing the first grafted orchard and nursery in the Oregon Territory. He is considered the father of the Pacific Northwest fruit industry, and along with his brother Seth Luelling, was responsible for grafting the still popular Bing cherry.

Henderson's grandson Seth Luelling moved from Oregon City in 1904 to establish a new farm north of Madras as part of the Homestead Act. His wife and kids grubbed out sagebrush by hand, cleared fields of volcanic rock, and hauled water from a spring in wooden barrels in order to carve out their new home. Life was tough for Madras' first settlers, but the Luellings persevered, raising cattle, wheat, potatoes, and a family of six children. Ellen, one of Seth's daughters, married a local farm boy, Fred Klann.

With the completion of the North Unit Project in 1948, irrigation water was finally available to farmers in the Madras area, quickly transforming the community into a mecca for specialty crops.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Three generations of the Klann family at the farm, from left, Seth, Brand and Harold Klann.Brad Klann, the current owner of the family farm, started working with his parents Harold (son of Ellen and Fred) and Imogene Klann on the 360 acres his father had been farming since coming home from the service.

In 1976, they replaced most of their flood-irrigated ground with two center pivots and two wheel lines. The pivots were two of the first used in Central Oregon. To supply them with water, a large pond was built to store and capture water from neighboring farms' flood fields. Water-use efficiency and conservation remain key components of the Klann's farm.

After marrying Debbie (the girl-next-door) in 1983, Brad started buying neighboring acreage and was farming up to 840 acres before their children Seth and Katie went off to college. 4-H and FFA are a large part of the family history: Harold, Brad, Seth, Katie, Sally (Seth's wife) and Travis (Katie’s husband) were all members. Seth and Katie were both state FFA officers and both graduated from Oregon State University.

Over the years, the Klanns have raised many crops: potatoes, alfalfa hay, radish seed, peppermint for oil, echinacea, St. John's wort, carrot seed, ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass seed. Currently, they are raising Kentucky bluegrass seed, alfalfa seed, dark northern spring wheat, and continue to pursue other specialty grain and seed endeavors.

In 2011, Seth and Sally purchased the original Seth Luelling homestead that had been out of the family for over 60 years. Brad, Seth, and Travis are now farming 1,080 irrigated acres, utilizing mostly pivot irrigation. The farm uses GPS guidance technology in its tractors, pivots, and spray applications.

Seven generations have grown up on the Madras farm. Seth and Sally's sons Jet and Silas are currently the eighth generation of Oregon farmers.




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Madras

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  • 23 Aug 2014

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  • 24 Aug 2014

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