Oregon National FFA Officer candidate Josiah Cruikshank speaks at SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Oregon Farm Bureau reports that 12% of all jobs in Oregon are connected to farming and ranching, and about 97% of those farms and ranches are family-owned and operated. Many have been in the same family for at least 100 years. To celebrate community leaders in agriculture, the Salem Chamber presents the SAIF Harvest Celebration each year.

The event was held on Oct. 19 at the Salem Convention Center. Formerly the Agri-Business evening banquet, it is traditionally one of Salem’s most well-attended events.

Once a member of six chambers at the same time, Bruce Anderson served as the event host.

Corban University President Dr. Sheldon Nord provided the invocation. He shared that the school would start its Ag-Science program, taught from a Biblical perspective, in August of next year.

Stacy Foster from the Oregon Dairy and Nutritional Council sang the national anthem. Oregon National Future Farmers of America office candidate Josiah Cruikshank represented the new face of agriculture and farming.

Salem Chamber President Laura Dorn announced that Tammy Dennee from the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association received the Spirit of Salem Award. Dennee has served both Salem and the state in many volunteer roles as a lobbyist and advocate. Supporters say she “inspires people to be kind.”

Presenting sponsor Ernesto Toskovic from Key Bank talked about growing up in the former Yugoslavia. During an economic crisis, they experienced shortages of essential items such as cooking oil and coffee. He expected the same during the pandemic. He was impressed that farmers managed to produce plenty of food even in the face of COVID-19 challenges.

The Keynote speaker was Barb Iverson from Iverson Family Farms/Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. Iverson joked that she was told she could speak on any topic, so she chose “A step-by-step guide to the in-vitro fertilization of dairy cows.” However, she discussed the difficulty they faced when the shut-down happened three days before they opened for the season. “No one told the tulips,” she quipped.

With a field of tulips and no guests, the family created a “senior tulip program” where people would purchase pots of flowers to send to everyone in a nursing facility or senior center.

Iverson said that the pandemic changed the way they do business. They will continue to sell tickets to Wooden Shoe online, so people don’t have to wait and create more experiences for families to enjoy when they visit.

The Harvest Celebration is a yearly event.  Visit www.SalemChamber.org to attend in 2022.

Correction: This article originally summarized Ernesto Toskovic's comments incorrectly. He spoke about shortages of several items during an economic crisis, not regular food shortages. Salem Reporter apologizes for the error.

Laura Dorn speaks at SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Barb Iverson shares a potential speech topic at SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)Stacy Foster sings the national anthem at SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Tammy Dennee and Stacy Foster attend SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Ron Peters serves as a greeter at SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Guests check in to the SAIF’s Harvest Celebration (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing regularly for Salem Reporter.  [email protected] and follow her on Facebook.

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