This is part of our continuing coverage of the Farwest Show. Keep checking back for updates. This post concerns Day One of the Farwest Show Tours, specifically, Tour 1, the Gen(i)us Acer tour on Tuesday, August 21, 2012.
Our final stop on the Gen(i)us Acer Tour was at Brentano Tree Farm, and was led by company president Pete Brentano. The nursery sits on land held by the family for three generations, but the nursery part of the operation has only been around for about 26 years. The family also continues to grow grass seed and food crops on 2,000 acres. The food crops include bush beans, corn, garlic, filberts, pumpkins and squash.
The family once grew hops, but no longer does. However, many of their neighbors still do. Pete Brentano noted that his neighbor’s hops harvest began yesterday. “It looks like we’ll have beer for another year,” he said — good news for those who came to Portland to drink some of the city’s finest offerings (don’t forget — there’s the Farwest Show Pub Crawl after the expo floor closes at 6 p.m. on Thursday night).
Brentano’s Tree Farm is engaged in the growing of many different varieties of shade trees, which are sold mostly to states in the Rocky Mountain region and the Upper Midwest. As befitting any nursery on the Gen(i)us Acer tour, Brentano’s offers a large assortment of maples. Brentano set out some 30 different varieties for the tour participants to look at, and he said that the farm grows some 40 others he didn’t set out for people to see.
If the phrase “set out” doesn’t sound quite right to you when applied to shade trees, you would be correct. The reason that Brentano is able to “set out” shade trees in the summer is that he grows most of his using the pot-in-pot system. This allows him to ship any tree, anytime. “It’s fairly expensive to install, but a wonderful system to grow trees,” he said. “We’ve learned which trees like to grow in a pot and which do not.” He added that the system is a real advantage in recent economic conditions. Buyers put off decisions until later in the season than they used to. Soil too hard to dig? No problem. Just hoist the pot out of the ground and load it.
You can see more photos from the Brentano tour at the Farwest Show Facebook page at www.facebook.com/farwestshow. Scroll down to see the other nurseries we visited today. Come back tomorrow to see the locations toured as part of our Retail Nursery Tour. And come back Thursday, Friday and Saturday to see highlights from the show.