Snake River Produce Company, LLC specializes in providing Spanish Sweet onions of superior quality in a variety of packaging and sizes. Located in Nyssa, Oregon Snake River Produce ships red, white, and yellow onions from August until April.
Farming and agriculture have always been a part of Ken Teramura’s life – his father Kay Teramura farmed in the Clackamas, Oregon area until 1942 when he was shipped to Minidoka, Idaho because of the war. In 1943, Kay worked soils near Caldwell, Idaho and in 1945; Kenneth Teramura was born in Ontario, Oregon. Kay founded Teramura Farms, Inc. in 1952 where he and his wife Dorothy raised onions, potatoes, sugar beets, garlic, wheat, and corn.
Kenneth graduated in 1968 from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Engineering. Following graduation, he started K & K Teramura Farms. Shortly thereafter, Teramura Farms developed the first commercial onion topper called “Onion King” manufactured by Open Harvester in Boise, Idaho. Additionally, they began sales of the first rod weeder for onion lifting – called the “Colorado Rod Weeder” from Denver, Colorado.
Currently, Kenneth and his wife Maxine are the owners of Teramura Farms, Inc. and Ken is one of the original founders of Snake River Produce Company, LLC in Nyssa, Oregon. Ken and Maxine have four children: Janette (Brian) Kameshige, Kimiko (Chris) Oune, Lynette (Danny) Miyasako, and Richard (Kami) Teramura.
Together, Ken and Maxine enjoy traveling as much as possible, fishing occasionally, and watching their grandchildren participate in athletics. They also have regular get-togethers with former classmates and frequent their condominium in McCall, Idaho.
Ken is an active member of the American Society of Ag Engineers, National Onion Association, Oregon State Jackmond Foundation Fellows, Oregon State University Alumni Life Member, OSU Experiment Station Advisory Board, and he is a Past President of Japanese American Citizen League.
Pat attended 1st-8th grade at Wilder Holmes Elementary & Junior High Schools. Following graduation from Vallivue High School, he attended and graduated from the College of Idaho, where he received a degree in political science. He also has post-graduate credits from the University of Idaho and Boise State University.
Upon graduation, Pat volunteered for the U.S. Army where he served 5 years of active service and another 5 years of reserve service. While serving, he achieved the rank of Captain and qualified for Airborne wings, the Ranger tab, and the Special Forces “Green Beret.”
After his military service, he returned to Wilder where he began farming on 32 acres. Today, after 33 years Pat farms in excess of 1,500 acres near Wilder and Homedale. He is also a partner in an onion packing shed, Snake River Produce.
Throughout his career he has combined full-time farming with work on behalf of diverse community, state and national organizations. His most noticeable role has been not only an advocate for agriculture, but as the Secretary/Director of Agriculture for the State of Idaho for over 10 years. Serving 3 governors, Phil Batt, Dirk Kempthorne and Jim Risch, he was also involved with Idaho’s award winning noxious weed program, the Idaho Preferred marketing program, the Idaho Smoke Management Program, the Idaho invasive species program and several other programs while at the State Department of Agriculture. In November of 2008, he was elected to the State Legislature, representing District 10 as a state representative.
Pat has been active in a number of organizations, including the Food Producers of Idaho, the Canyon County Farm Bureau, the Canyon County Deputy Sherriff Patrol Reserve, the school board, Boy Scout Troop 277, MADD, the Idaho-Oregon Fruit and Vegetable Association, Leadership Idaho Agriculture, and the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce.
Throughout his service career, Pat has always strived to improve organizational process and also to solve a myriad of problems, through research, teamwork, and hard work.
Pat and his wife Suzanne are the parents of three children. They share a love of the farm and especially enjoy the western sunset on the Owyhee foothills.
In the spring of 2008, Pat was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery and chemotherapy. After a courageous battle with a rare appendiceal cancer, pseudomyxoma peritonei, Pat, 62, beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend, passed away on November 6, 2011. When Pat passed away, he was surrounded by the most important priority in his life, his family.
Reid was born and raised in Nyssa, Oregon by his parents Kayo and Kae Saito, along with three sisters Karen, Ellen and Jan. Being third generation Japanese American, his grandparents and parents all lived in the same home speaking a combination of Japanese and English and working on the family farm. Reid and his sisters grew up weeding onions, sugar beets and certified strawberry plants, irrigating crops and learning to work together.
After graduating from the University of Oregon, he spent almost four years in Japan teaching English and attending universities in Tokyo studying Japanese Language and culture. Reid came back to the farm in 1974 when his father, Kayo, said that farming was turning around and prices were very good for potatoes, onions, beets. He joined his father and two uncles, Larry and George on the farm. The name of the farm is KLG Farms after Kayo, Larry, and George.
In 1979, Reid married a farmer’s daughter from Homedale, Idaho who had been raised in Adrian, Kaylene Miyasako. They had a son Randy in 1982 and a daughter Kimberly in 1985. They both grew up weeding onions and irrigating crops learning the same lessons of hard work and responsibility that had been instilled in Reid and Kaylene. In 1985, Reid’s sister Karen and her husband Danny Shishido joined the farm until his retirement in 2004. Kaylene and Reid farm 1000 acres of row crops including onions, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, beans, corn, hay, and alfalfa seed. In 1999, they joined with other growers to buy the Muir-Roberts onion packing facility in Nyssa to handle our onions.
Because of great family support and the hard work and dedication of our employees, Reid has been fortunate enough to have some time to contribute to community and the agricultural industry. This includes 30 years on the Malheur County Onion Grower’s board of directors and eight years on the Oregon State Board of Agriculture. Water issues, agricultural employee issues, as well as crop pests and solutions, and marketing take up a great deal of time but are all issues critical to the health of our agricultural industry.
Farming in this area has provided a good life for Reid and his family and he hopes that by contributing something back, the farming industry will remain strong for years to come. Through his involvement and community support, Reid has been recognized with many honors including the 2008 Distinguished Service Award for Individual Contribution to Oregon Agriculture, 2008 Ontario Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year, 1991 Nyssa Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year, and many more. In addition to farming, volunteering, and spending time with family – Reid is an avid University of Oregon supporter – Go Ducks!
Raised on a farm in Adrian, Oregon since he was one year old, Ross has always had a deep interest in producing the best crop for consumers while utilizing the least amount of chemical input. Before coming back to the area to farm, Ross attended Oregon State University where he earned a Bachelor of Science. Additionally, Ross obtained his Master Degree in International Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management. He worked for a bank and several international trading companies before coming back to Adrian, Oregon to pursue farming.
Ross is married to Barbara Nishihara and together they have three grown sons and six grandchildren. They enjoy traveling together and spending time with their family.
Les was born and raised on his family farm in Ontario, Oregon where he began working on the farm at a very early age. As a child, he weeded onions and beets, graduated to irrigating duties, and a soon as his feet could reach the pedals, he was driving tractors!
After graduating from Ontario High School, Les attended college at Oregon State University for one year, and then transferred to Treasure Valley Community College for a year. While attending college he held jobs as a gas station attendant, sales clerk at Bi-Mart, graveyard shift at Ore-Ida Foods, building trailer houses, and being an office manager. Then, Les went on to the University of Oregon where he completed a degree in Financial Management. After completing college, he returned to the farm in 1976. Les finds it interesting when he receives an alumni call seeking donations for the University Oregon and he is asked, “Why didn’t you use your degree?” His constant reply is that operating a farm is not about standing with a pitchfork herding a bunch of chickens!
Les married his wife Tonya in 1988 and they have one son, Staff Sgt. Brian Condra, who is currently serving in the US Army at Ft. Stills, Oklahoma. Tonya is also a local product, growing up on a family farm in Adrian, Oregon. She is a library clerk at the local library and her primary job duty is driving the Bookmobile to outlying communities in Malheur County, which allows County residents more access to library materials.
Les’ mother is a spry 91 years old and is currently living at the Nyssa Gardens Assisted Living center. His older brother (Fran) is a nuclear physicist for URS and lives in New Mexico. His younger brother (Chris) is the Director of Product Development for Peterbilt Motors and lives in Texas.
When asked about his interests, Les has always been involved in machinery and motorized vehicles. He has become more of a spectator now but he used to participate in city league baseball, basketball, volleyball, and bowling.
Since 1977, through thick and thin Les has been a fan of the star-crossed Portland Trailblazers. He still enjoys watching them except for the times he is cursing at the television! IN ADDITION, who in Oregon does not follow the Oregon Ducks football team and their exciting brand of football? Go Ducks!
After harvest and fall work is completed, Tonya and Les enjoy taking long road trips that are not overly planned so they can take side trips, which have resulted in finding some of the most interesting towns and historical sites. Les feels very fortunate to be married to a librarian, who keeps him well stocked in reading material.
In 2005, Les was named the Ontario Chamber of Commerce Agriculturist of the Year. He is currently serving on the Malheur County Onion Board (Vice-President), Malheur County Weed Advisory Board (Vice-Chairman), Malheur Watershed Local Advisory Committee, and the Legislative/Crisis Preparedness Committee.
Kay Riley, former president of the National Onion Association (NOA), is no stranger to the produce industry. Living in Fruitland, Idaho, he has over 30 years of involvement in the onion industry. Professionally, Kay is the manager of Snake River Produce Co. LLC, in Nyssa, Ore., sharing ownership with Ken Teramura, Ross Nishihara, Les Ito, Reid Saito and Pat Takasugi, the former director of agriculture for the State of Idaho. Riley, Teramura, Nishihara, Ito and Saito were the original partners, each owning an equal share. In 2003, Teramura sold half of his interest to Takasugi.
A Payson, Utah native, Kay has been managing Snake River Produce in Nyssa, Ore., since 1999, when the onion packing operation was purchased from Muir-Roberts Co. Kay’s earlier training in the packing and shipping business came from his personal involvement with Muir-Roberts.
Learned How to Work
The son of Howard and Shirley Riley, the NOA president grew up on a farm, where apples, cherries, peaches, raspberries, rhubarb and Christmas tress were the crops of choice. He and his brother, Alan, 21 months his senior, learned the value of work from a wise father who gave them opportunities to earn their own spending money. “As a kid, I remember a carnival that was going to take place at our grade school,” Kay smiles. “When I asked dad for some money, he said I could earn some by piling brush for 25 cents per row. What we called “brush” was the trimmings from the pruning of our fruit trees. That’s how Alan and I earned our spending money.” The boys’ grandfather was Bob Roberts, a partner with Ed Muir in Muir-Roberts Co., a fruit and vegetable packing and shipping business that got its start in the 1920s in Salt Lake City, but over the years divisions were added. One was in Payson, Utah, where they packed apples, tart and sweet cherries and peaches; another was in Provo, Utah, where the focus was on sweet and tart cherries; a third division was in Rigby, Idaho, where the partners packed potatoes; and a fourth was Nyssa and Ontario, Ore., where the produce was onions and potatoes.
“Muir-Roberts has been involved with a variety of different crops. It has enjoyed a long history in the onion business,” Kay notes.
On the other side of his family, Kay’s grandmother was a Winegar, and her father was instrumental in breeding and growing the Winegar strain of Sweet Spanish onions. As a child she frequently could be found in the fields weeding onions and other work associated with growing the crop. Her father had served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Spain and before coming home had packaged up some Spanish onion seed, later propagated in Bountiful, Utah. The seed strain eventually became better known under the name of “Utah Strain Sweet Spanish onions.”
After finishing high school in 1971, Kay continued his education for a year and a half at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
A Fateful Decision
“I had a temporary summer job as a laborer for a plumber,” he remembers, “and I earned a bunch of money intending to take some time off from school and spend the fall hunting. Meanwhile in 1973, there was a bumper crop of apples in Utah, and so until the hunting season got under way, “I told my dad I would help him out during the apple harvest.” One day, while taking a load of apples to Muir-Roberts in Payson, Bob Wright, the manager there, approached me and said: ‘Kay, you’re not doing anything. Why don’t you come and help us out for a couple of weeks?’”
After agreeing to the proposition, he ended up working there for one month short of 26 years.
In the beginning, Kay drove forklift and did many of the ordinary jobs connected with a packing shed. A year later, in 1974, he was promoted to assistant manager. Later, in 1979, when Muir-Roberts opened its Corinne onion division, Kay was named manager and moved to northern Utah. The Company also handled tart and sweet cherries and peaches from the Perry and Willard, Utah area.
“We also had two or three other small cherry operations going during the summer time,” Kay recalls. “Everything was in the Brigham City-Corinne area. I lived in north Ogden and for about 15 years drove to Brigham City each day. The fruit deal was mainly in Perry and Willard. And then we packed onions in Corinne as well as sold onions for a number of other growers in the Tremonton, Bear River City, Corinne and Davis County areas.”
Shortly after Kay’s grandfather, Bob Roberts, one of the founders of Muir-Roberts Co. died in 1987, Riley was appointed to serve on the company’s Board of Directors. In 1993, he moved to Salt Lake City to serve in the Company’s sales office. There he gained additional experience selling onions from Muir-Roberts’ Nyssa, Oregon onion facility and apples from the company’s packing shed in nearby Payson. By 1995, he had been promoted to vice president of operations.
Helped Put Together Snake River Produce
“In 1999, I sold my stock in Muir-Roberts and joined with Ken Teramura, Ross Nishihara, Les Ito and Reid Saito in purchasing Muir-Roberts’ onion packing facility in Nyssa, Ore.,” Kay recalls, adding that it was one of the major decisions of his life.
Teramura, Nishihara, Ito and Saito, all growers, grew the bulk of the onions packed and shipped through the plant, while Riley assumed the responsibility of managing the onion shed.
Was it a good move? “No question about it,” Kay feels. “All of my partners are tremendous individuals. They support the company, and we have been successful to this point.” Kay has served in many roles during his time in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon region – including Idaho-Oregon Fruit & Vegetable Association President.
Kay and his wife, Karen, are the parents of four children: Natalie, married and living in Clinton, Utah; Mark, married and living in Ogden, Utah; Candice, married and living in Boise, Idaho; and Brett, currently attending BYU. They have a growing number of grandchildren.
Adapted from an interview with Onion World.
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