Many of the Chelan Valley orchards are a family affair, with women playing a critical role in running smooth operations and growing the business. In our blog series, “Women in Agriculture,” we sit down with them to discuss their roles and thoughts on the industry.
This month we checked in with Rosa Rivera, who owns and operates a family orchard with her husband in the Chelan Valley. Rosa is a pillar in her community; not only does she help manage the family orchard but also works outside the home and has raised thoughtful young adults who contribute to the world around them. Rosa and her husband have six children who have gone on to have careers in higher education, healthcare, or are business owners; two are still studying to complete their education.
Chelan Fresh is thankful for Women in Agriculture such as Rosa.
CF: Hello, Rosa, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us! Please tell us about your current job duties at your family orchard and elsewhere.
RR: Right now my job duties in our orchard are marking and checking the fruit that is being picked, managing our employees and assigning trees to them for picking. I also do the payroll and whatever else is needed in the orchard, depending on the season. When we do not have work in the orchard I work in a packing shed for Chelan Fruit.
CF: Sounds like a busy schedule! Were you raised in an agricultural family yourself?
RR: Yes, we have worked most of our lives in an orchard or a packing shed. I have been doing this current orchard work for 10 years.
CF: Tell us about your family; do you have any children at home?
RR: I have 6 children and 8 grandchildren!
CF: I bet your family keeps you moving! Do your kids plan to work in your family orchard with you?
RR: Not exactly; they do help us a lot, but each of them has a job of their own and they have different responsibilities outside of Chelan.
CF: What sort of challenges have you faced in this industry?
RR: Well, Spanish is our first language so there is a language barrier. We work hard to improve our English but at times the barrier makes things difficult.
CF: What kind of changes have you seen in the agriculture industry during your career?
RR: There are so many requirements that go into producing fruit. Most people do not realize how much time growers spend managing information and computer programs versus spending time outside growing the fruit.
CF: What do you think the future holds for the agriculture industry?
RR: (laughs) I think in the future we will see growers continue to spend more of their time working on managing systems, records and requirements and less time out in the orchards. It is a big job to keep up with!
CF: What is your favorite part of the work?
RR: My favorite part is working in the orchards and being able to watch how the fruit matures on the trees. It’s a beautiful thing to see how they grow.
CF: What a lovely thought! Thank you so much, Rosa, for speaking with us, and good luck with this year’s harvest.
RR: Thank you so much.