'They're gone': Heatwave devastates Canby u-pick farm's berry crop
Tisa Martishev said in late June, the walls of vines at her family's berry farm are usually bursting with color, but the heat dome that sent temperatures soaring above 100 degrees in Canby for three days in a row the last week of June left the fruit shriveled on the vine.
"It literally just burned everything. It just dried everything out. It's uncalled for to have this happen in Oregon," Tisa said.
Her family has owned South Barlow Berries for more than 15 years and she says they've never experienced heat like this.
When Tisa's father, Toni Martishev, who owns the farm with his wife Zina, saw the temperatures predicted in the forecast, he said he was hoping and praying something would change.
"Just kept my fingers crossed. Maybe the forecast is off. Hopefully, it's off," he said. "But like I told my wife, I will believe it when I see it."
Now, Toni and his family are seeing the fruits of their labor gone to waste.
The U-pick farm usually has several cars in its parking lot on any given day in the summer, but Tuesday morning, it was eerily quiet.
"This is just new to us because we always would have a consistent flow of traffic coming in," Tisa said. "If they didn't want to U-pick, they would just have and buy what we freshly picked that morning."
The empty parking lot and devastated crops in the fields have the Martishev family concerned about their financial situation. Toni Martishev said they've already laid off eight of their 16 workers in the last couple days.
With so many berries gone to waste, he's trying to find things for the remaining employees to do to keep them busy.
Without these berries, the Martishev family expects business to be extremely slow through July. They're holding out hope that their fall-bearing raspberry plants survive the remaining summer heat and will produce fruit in August.
Toni, Zina, and Tisa were all extremely upset by the loss. Zina said it gave her a horrible feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"I still can't get over — they're gone … all in one day," Zina said, wiping away tears.
While the family is concerned about their business, they're also concerned about the people of Oregon and where they'll get berries from, especially marionberries, because they said many farms throughout the Willamette Valley were impacted by the heat.
"We can't do anything without the love and support of family, community. And so, to not be able to share that with everyone else because of the berries just basically drying out at the moment, it's kind of just devastating," Tisa said.
The Martishev family said they will salvage everything they can off the fields and hope people will still come to pick the berries themselves. They said the sun-damaged berries would still work great for jams or smoothies.
The farm also has fruit they picked before the heat wave and frozen berries for sale.
Toni said he's heard of other nearby farms that plan to ask the state for financial aid or relief. He said he plans to do the same.
As difficult as it is to see so much of their carefully grown fruit wasted, the family said they will find a way to keep the business going.
"We'll survive it somehow. I mean, we survived the fires that we had. We've survived the ice storm, wind, everything -- so why not heat?" Tisa said.
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