We farm with organic practices but choose not to certify organic because we cultivate direct relationships with all of our customers, who come to realize that our ethics and vision go way beyond that of a typical organic farm. We also don't certify because the process is onerous and costly and we try to avoid unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and paperwork whenever possible. We deal with enough of it already.
The Carpenter Family
The Carpenter family has been farming along Foothill Road in Medford for over a century. Enticed to come to the valley by Reginald Parsons of the neighboring Hillcrest Orchard, brothers Leonard and Alfred Carpenter planted their pear orchards in 1909 using draft horse teams (background photo above). Horse teams gave way to tractors, and further changes ensued when Leonard and Alfred's nephew Dunbar Carpenter returned to Medford after World War II and took over the operation in 1946.
Dunbar and Jane
Dunbar and his wife Jane built a house on the “Rocky Knoll” along Hillcrest Road in 1954. During the next few decades, they expanded the pear operation and built a packing house. They sold their pears under the label that we still use today, the iconic skiing pear under the words Dunbar of Medford. In the mid-1970s, Dunbar began planting wine grapes on the slopes below their house, experimenting with different varietals and cultivating techniques.
Dunbar and Jane raised three children. Their daughter Emily shared their passion for farming; she and her husband Brian Mostue eventually took over the expanding vineyard and established the hay operation that replaced most of the pears. In recent years there has been a changing of the guard; Brian passed away in 2006, followed shortly thereafter by both Dunbar and Jane. Emily and Brian's son David Mostue returned from college and became the fourth generation to work the farm.
Emily and David now direct progress on the farm. By 2006 the painstaking process of cultivating premium wine grapes was well established. David has diversified the farm into the wide variety of crops we produce today. In 2018, Alison and her husband Nick moved to the farm and are focused on growing the retail side of the farm, centering around services and events at the Honor Barn/Tasting Room.
Our Farming & Vision
The landscape and geology of Dunbar Farms is unique. The "Rocky Knoll" is a landmark in the landscape of East Medford and the Rogue Valley and serves as the inspiration for our wine label. With a host of different fields, forests, riparian zones and crops arrayed upon and beneath it, we have been compelled to diversify our agricultural activities. Few of our fields are flat, and there are only small pockets where the soil is loamy enough to support growing vegetable crops. There are a number of wetland areas on the farm that are home to all kinds of permanent and migrating riparian life. The farm also boasts a den of coyotes, an elusive bobcat, and a few errant deer that nibble their way through the vineyards and the vegetable rows.
Because the terrain is so diverse, it seems only natural that our activities should be diverse, too. We model the farm as an ecosystem, balanced in its types of uses and generating the necessary inputs for one activity from the by-products of another, be those nutrients, seed or power. The metaphor "everything is connected" is an overused cliche; in the newly green-obsessed world, but we have a very tangible and practical opportunity to put the concept to work. We have worked relentlessly to develop the means and learn how to efficiently process, clean and reuse seed, particularly grain, gradually adapting the genetics to suit our region and climate.
Diversity and integration also play a very important economic role on the farm, helping ensure a stable income base. When one or two crops succumb to a strange weather year we have about eighty others to take their place, as well as storable foods like grain and beans stockpiled in the barn to provide to our customers. With our focus on selling directly to the local community, the diversity of production means the convenience level for our customers is very high (one-stop shopping) and that our market can be smaller in number but bigger in degree of support. We cultivate dedicated customers who eat largely and directly from the farm, year-round.
Mentoring the Future
Lastly, we aim to serve as mentors to the next generation of farmers, both by offering internships to learn the skills and realities of farming for a living and through our work with children in our education garden. We have partnered with Kids Unlimited of Medford and Rogue Valley Farm 2 School to offer after-school programs, school field trips and summer programs for youth at the farm.