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Ungers: dedicated to agriculture

Cornelius farmers sell at Forest Grove market, advocate elsewhere


by: COURTESY PHOTO - There are no fewer than 11 members of the extended Unger family, which operates a fourth-generation farm in Cornelius and participates in several area farmers markets.What happens when you cross passionate family farmers with berries? You get Matt and Kathy Unger of Cornelius-based Unger Farms, Inc. — whose enthusiasm and love for farming show through not just in their berries, but also in their commitment to sustaining Oregon agriculture.

Matt Unger, a fourth generation farmer, and Kathy, a Portland native, met while working on Matt’s farm. They now own and operate a 144-acre farm in Cornelius with help from their four children and a smattering of spouses.

Starting out, the couple focused mainly on strawberries and cucumbers, which were all sent directly to a cannery. But after being invited to the Hillsboro Farmers Market, they were hooked. “Meeting customers, being out in the public and seeing where our berries were going was a thrill,” said Kathy.

Unger Farms now sells at 15 area farmer’s markets, including the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of local nonprofit Adelante Mujeres.

“The Forest Grove market has that small-town everybody-knows-everybody feel that makes it so fun,” said Kathy Unger. And although it is a ton of work to sell at 15 farmers markets, she added that the customers make all worthwhile.

“Getting to talk to them and hear their stories, and to share our story, is such a joy,” Unger said. “Without our wonderful customers we wouldn’t be where we are today.” by: COURTESY PHOTO - Kathy Unger shows off fresh strawberries and blueberries, now in season and available at Unger Farms booth at the Forest Grove Farmers Market.

As if 144 acres and 15 markets didn’t seem like enough work, the Unger family also keeps busy supporting local agriculture. Kathy serves on the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market board, Matt Unger is chairman of the Oregon Strawberry Commission and the North Willamette Horticulture Society Meeting board, and their daughter Laura is on the Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce board.

The Ungers’ son Will is on the Blueberry Commission board. Kathy noted that it’s very important to be directly involved in order to make a difference in the community. “Our hope is that we can all keep the Oregon agriculture industry alive and thriving for years to come and for future generations to have the same opportunities that we have had,” she said.

Fans of fresh produce can find Unger strawberries, raspberries and jams at the Forest Grove market now — and blueberries and grapes later in the season. The Ungers also have a Farm Store and Berry Cafe on their property, where customers can visit the farm, buy a variety of fresh products and enjoy strawberry waffles, shortcake, sandwiches and more. For directions, visit ungerfarms.com.

Kaely Summers is manager of the Forest Grove Farmers Market.

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