Thursday, April 11, 2013

Farmer Profile - Drew Eggers

     We are please to introduce you to our friend, Drew Eggers of Meridian, Idaho.  Drew is a third generation farmer.  He and his wife, Debra have been farming for many years.

Drew "out standing" in his field
Your name:  
        Drew and Debra Eggers

Where do you live?  
        Meridian, Idaho, located in Southwestern Idaho

How long have you been farming?  
        Since 1978

Why did you become a farmer?  
        I was raised on a row-crop farm.  My grandfather had dairy cows and raised prunes.  I got a degree in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Idaho, and worked for an irrigation district for two years as an engineer, but working the land kept calling to me.

A sugarbeet next to a mint field
What crops do you grow?
        My main crop is mint.  My dad started distilling mint oil when I was in high school.  That crop is a main reason I wanted to go back to farming.  We sell the oil to a middle-man that does the blending with other oils to get the exact same flavor and quality that each vendor wants.  Mint oil is used as flavoring in chewing gum, candy, medicines and baking items, among many other foods we eat.
       I also grow wheat, and hire a crew to harvest that.  I grew sugar beets for about 16 years.  I have never grown potatoes.

What type of farm do you operate?
        Mainly, we irrigate with syphon tubes and gated pipe.  Our annual precipitation is between 10 and 12 inches per year.  It takes 48 inches a year to raise a crop of mint.  So, the reservoirs and canals are a necessity here.

Tell us about your operation.
First the mint is swathed into windrows,
where it dries for 2-3 days
     I now employ 4 full-time men.  They do take December thru February off, but they work long hours during the harvest season to make up for it.

Something interesting, cutting-edge, fascinating, that you would like readers to know?  
     Not all mint growers own their own mint still, so we process a lot of acres for other farmers and that is a big part of our income.

Do you participate in any civic or industry organizations?
     I have been on boards for:
 -the Mint Industry Council
 -the Idaho Mint Growers Association
 -Food Producers of Idaho
Then the mint is picked up and pumped into a "tub,"
which is attached to the still
 -Leadership Idaho Agriculture
 -Northwest Farm Credit Services

Are there any stories about farming that you would like to share?
     When I left Meridian to go to college, there was only one stoplight in town, and the population was about 3,000.  Now, I can't count all the stoplights; the population is over 75,000.  We drive our harvest equipment past an Albertson's grocery store and a couple of stoplights.  When I was 12 years old, Interstate 84 (the only real freeway in the whole state of Idaho), was built right through our farm.
The mint still

The Eggers Family on a Christmas hayride 

Grandpa Drew takes his grandchildren
on tractor rides often

Drew and Debra Eggers!

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