Barb Iverson grew up on a 225-acre family farm near Monitor, Ore., the fifth of six children who all remained active in what has become Iverson Family Farms Inc.
Today the 1,200-acre farm is owned by siblings Barb, Nels, Ken and Paul and their nephew Jon.
“I loved growing up on the farm and enjoy the outdoors,” Iverson said. “I was active in 4-H entomology and would hunt insects all summer as well as ride Thistle, the horse I trained — of course, after all the work was done.”
Majoring in horticulture at Oregon State University fostered a love for plant identification and the nursery industry. After graduating, Iverson spent time working at a rare plant nursery in Australia and grew rhododendrons for Van Veen Nursery, a nursery her grandfather started.
When Iverson rejoined the family farm in 1994, she decided that the best way to prove herself was by working hard and getting involved. Besides jumping into the bulb production, she volunteered with the local fire department and was an EMT/Firefighter for 35 years.
She also serves as the Monitor Telecom board chair and is on the executive committee of the Tourism Development Council in Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory, all the while being an active member of the state Farm Bureau.
Last year, she was elected president of the Oregon Farm Bureau.
“When you farm, you’re entering a lifestyle occupation of hard, all-consuming work,” Iverson said. “We work at least 70 hours a week — and that’s in the winter. Crops and livestock don’t understand a time clock.
“I also have to stress the importance of networking in this industry,” she said. “The relationships you build in the farming, ranching and ag sectors are priceless. We also need to stick together to face the challenges that constantly face our industry. With less than 2% of the population farming, we become an easy target, especially since most people are generations removed from the farm.”
The paperwork associated with farming is a challenge, she said.
“My biggest struggle is in keeping up on the new rules and regulations,” Iverson said. “There seems to be a perception that farmers need direction; that we aren’t smart enough to take care of our farms, many of which have been taken care of by the same family for over 100 years — that’s sustainable.
“What really needs to be stressed is that the best way to keep a farm sustainable is to make it profitable, and most farmers put a good chunk of whatever they make right back into the farm.”
Today, third-generation Iverson Family Farms grows grass seed, vetch seed, hemp, marijuana, squash, hazelnuts, tulips and grapes. It also has its own wine label.
Agritourism is also part of the Iversons’ operation.
In 1983, the two Iverson women and their brothers’ wives started the Wooden Shoe Tulip Bulb Co. to drive sales. Thirty-six years later, rebranded as Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, their annual spring festival is a huge success, drawing 150,000 visitors a year from across the globe.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 shutdowns put a stop to what would have been the 36th year. They plan to rebound next year.
Most recently, they started a CBD oil extraction business called FSOil for Full Spectrum Oil. Their cGMP-certified organic facility supplies oil to the largest brand in the country, Charlotte’s Web. The Iversons also created Red Barn Hemp, their own line of CBD products sold online and at the Wooden Shoe farmstand.
“Farming is also one of the most rewarding occupations,” Iverson said. “There is a pride that exists in farmers and it is a pride for so many reasons, starting with growing a good healthy crop from good soil and water.”