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by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Carlson family, with Jim and Mary third and fourth from left.Jim and Mary Carlson have lived and farmed in the Culver area for 40 years. They are big supporters of their community and the farming industry.


Jim Carlson was raised in Culver, where his parents, Floyd and Louise Carlson farmed and ran a seed packing business (Round Butte Seed Growers).

He worked on the farm alongside his three brothers and three sisters until after college. Then he farmed with his father until his dad retired in 1977.

Floyd and Louise Carlson came to Culver from Idaho when the water project came in. They established deep agricultural roots in all their children and three of the Carlson boys became farmers. One son became a professor of agriculture economics at North Carolina State, and two of their daughters farmed and ran a potato-packing business.

Mary McDonald Carlson, the daughter of Tom and Marian McDonald and the second oldest of four brothers and two sisters, was the fourth generation to be raised on the McDonald ranch in Ashwood, where they raised sheep and beef cattle.

She went to all eight grades of elementary school in Ashwood and didn't "come to town" for school until her freshman year in high school. As soon as Jim grew taller than Mary (their sophomore year), they started dating and were later married in 1976.

The Carlsons raised their three children, Amy, Melissa and Alex, in Culver and all were actively involved in 4-H and FFA. They raised pigs, lambs and steers and were competitive in public speaking and leadership events.

Showing at the Jefferson County Fair was the Carlson kids' summer vacation and the whole family has great memories of "fair." The community supported the kids at the livestock auction and today, Jim and Mary Carlson try to return the favor.

When their six grandkids visit, they get to experience the same farm activities that their parents did growing up and "fair week" is back at the Carlson house. The kids all worked on the farm changing water and driving combine before they graduated from college.

Jim Carlson Farms has grown a variety of crops over the years including onions, grass seed, carrots and mint, but seed potatoes are their main crop.

Jim Carlson was on the Oregon Potato Commission for 12 years where he became involved in the political and marketing side of the potato industry. He and his wife traveled to Singapore and China in 2010 on a trade commission to promote potatoes in Asia.

He also represented the Western region of the United States in Washington, D.C., where he lobbied to include white potatoes in the WIC program and to increase foreign trade of potatoes into Mexico. Carlson was awarded the Young Grower of the Year in 1990 from the Oregon Potato Commission and 23 years later, the Seed Grower of the Year award from the National Potato Council in 2013.

Jim Carlson Farms continues to find innovative methods to improve and enhance their growing efforts. They have been able to raise and support their family through hard work and always strive to find ways to improve their farming endeavors. They are still committed to the promotion of potatoes and agriculture in Central Oregon and throughout the country.

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