After decades of growing fruits, vegetables and hay crops in its fields and making pies, turnovers and cinnamon rolls in its bakery for sale to the local community, Kruse Farms will soon be downsizing.

The change is coming because co-owners, brother Jeff Kruse, 70, and sister Karen Corpron, 64, want to retire. Jeff Kruse has been farming since he was a youth. Corpron, who left a corporate position with Hilton Grand Vacations to join the family business in 2008, has managed the produce market and bakery for the past 13 years.

Co-owner Evan Kruse, 42, a nephew and the family’s fourth generation on the farm, plans to continue to be a farmer.

The three owners have decided to put the farm market, greenhouses, cold storage building, office and 93 acres of farm ground southwest of the Melrose Junction and Melrose Road up for sale. The listed price is $2.49 million. A sale sign was planted in front of the market Thursday evening.

The Kruse family plans to continue operation of the market and bakery to early January when it has annually closed for the next four months. Even if the property has not sold, the market will not reopen later in 2022.

“We’re going to be open to the end of the season, typically that’s early in the new year,” Corpron said. “We hope that could be a condition if there’s a potential sale before then.”

A couple miles to the north off Quail Lane that is across from the Roseburg Country Club golf course, Evan Kruse plans to continue to farm 200 acres. That acreage includes the original 15 acres that his great-grandfather, Bert Kruse, first farmed in 1923. The younger Kruse, who returned to the farm in 2009 after working in technology, will concentrate on growing hay and some fruit crops, the latter for U-pick customers.

Evan Kruse and his wife, Andrea, have three young children who are the family’s fifth generation on the farm.

“We want to give them (kids) the opportunity to be involved on the farm,” Evan Kruse said. “I feel real lucky to be able to give them that.

“It’s been a real healthy conversation,” he added of the decision to sell the Melrose Road property. “There’s been no arguing about taking this step. We’re on the same page. It was not unexpected that my partners (Jeff Kruse and Karen Corpron) would eventually want to retire.”

Corpron said the time is right for a sale, but she admitted she is worried in her dreams, her father, Don Kruse, will question the decision to sell. Don Kruse farmed the ground for about 70 years before health issues limited his mobility. He died in 2018 at age 87.

“There’s a feeling of disappointing our customers as well as my dad,” said Corpron, adding that she’s ready for a break after nine years of working at the market seven days a week and then five days a week for the past two years after the partners decided to close the market on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“I want more time to spend with my husband Tedd and with extended family members,” she said.

“After our decision to sell was announced, there were many people who expressed an understanding, but a sadness at the same time,” she added.

Jeff Kruse said he’s spent the majority of his life farming and is ready to have the time to travel and see different landmarks.

“At some point you have to cut the cord,” he said. “It’s hard to figure out the best time and the best way to do it, but eventually you have to.

“Kruse Farms has been such a big part of this community, but there was a community before the Kruse Farm market and there’ll be a community after it,” he added.

Evan Kruse said it’s important to him that whoever buys the property works to use the land in the best possible agricultural way.

“My biggest hope is that somebody comes in and has the potential to improve on what has been done here in the past decades,” he said.

Bert Kruse started farming at the south end of Garden Valley in 1923, turning logged over land into a produce farm.

“It was a real shoestring operation,” Jeff Kruse said of his grandfather’s start on 15 acres.

Bert Kruse’s son, Don, became a partner in the farm in 1949, a year after his Roseburg High School graduation. The two gradually increased their farm to 600 acres. They added a couple more crops and got into hay and grain production.

The farm didn’t have its own produce stand in those decades of production. The produce was marketed to Southwest Oregon and Portland area wholesale houses that then distributed products to their local grocery stores. A shift in the wholesale market in the 1980s to contracts with large California corporate farms forced the Kruse family to make a change.

In 1987, the family purchased the present site of the market. A pole structure was renovated into the market. Greenhouses were built and a cold storage building was upgraded. The farming operation was expanded from about six crops to 60 crops in order to fill the market with a variety of fruits and vegetables. The bakery and gift shop were built onto the back of the produce market in 1992.

“We have a lot of pride in growing good products for the market,” Jeff Kruse said. “We are very good at what we do. We take pride in having done that over a long period of time and in dealing with some of the conditions we’ve had to deal with.”

Evan Kruse said he’ll miss the connections with consumers such as a woman who stopped him this past summer to tell him, “Your peaches are the best I’ve ever had.”

“I’d love to see this farmland continue to feed the public,” he said. “The property, with it being zoned exclusive farm use and its location, has a lot of potential. I’m sure there are creative minds out there that can come up with ideas for its use that I’d never come up with.”

“We’ve been an essential business and never had to close,” Corpron explained of the farm and the market dealing with conditions brought on by the Covid pandemic. “People have appreciated that.

“I hope whoever buys it can in some fashion continue what we’ve been all about here,” she added.

Ian Campbell can be reached at ian@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4209. Or follow him on Twitter @MrCampbell17.

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(1) comment

Wretched722

We are just getting less and less in this area....stores and businesses closing all over the place. Guess it's time to move away.

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