Three generations and going strong
In 1993 my dad, Ted Lichtenfels had a vision for a family farm. He had seen small-scale growers fall by the wayside only to be replaced by large, corporate agribusinesses. He followed his sense of land stewardship to Tonasket, WA where he purchased a 100-acre orchard. He spent the next 25 years determined to show that with enough initiative, hard work, research, and planning, a small farm could be sustainable for generations to come.
His efforts paid off. Today our family continues to run Whitestone Mountain Orchard with the goal of strengthening our regional food system and supporting families in our community. My husband Hal and I are the second generation to run the orchard, with help from our son Simon, our daughter Hannah, and her husband Skylar.
We’re so glad you stopped by,
Claire and Hal
A just and sustainable food system
It’s one thing to say we believe in a just and sustainable food system, and it’s quite another to help it take shape. Everything we do at Whitestone Mountain Orchard is driven by our mission to cultivate the highest quality produce. We’re dedicated to regenerative agriculture practices and producing organic fruit not only because it tastes better, but because it’s better for the people and world around us.
We take these four principles to heart and use them to guide our business:
- Viable, local farms feed local folks
- Affordable, organic produce keeps us healthy
- Biodiversity is the foundation of a flourishing ecosystem
- Using all fruit from the orchard reduces waste
Mountains of love for our crew
Whitestone Mountain Orchard is a family affair, but ours is bigger than you might think. We extend our sense of family to our entire crew, building solid relationships and creating an orchard-wide community. It’s not always easy to find work in a rural town like Tonasket, so we’re happy to provide jobs for such talented individuals. When we say we’re farming for families, yours and ours—we mean our whole family. We couldn’t do it without them.
“I’m the son of Mexican parents, originally from the state of Zacatecas, Mexico. I am married to Rosa Isela Ramos, and we have three children; Sebastian, Rixana, and Rita. I like working in the orchard because I am pleased to know that each family can have an apple at their table. I like the whole process of growing apples, from pruning until harvesting the last apple. As a steward, my duty is to make sure that everything goes according to the wishes of my patrons, Hal and Claire. I also like music and play the accordion and violin.”
—J. Santos Reynoso Guzman, foreman
Crew members (from top left to right, then down): Damaris, Alberto, Sebastian, Rosalino, Marcos, Olga, Angel, Jacinto, Reynaldo, Rigoberto, Tracy, Saul, Victoria, Jose Juan, Salvador, Miguel, Javier, Margarito, Jhonny, Juan Carlos, Sebastian
“I am from the Santiago Juxtlahuaca minucipio of the state of Oaxaca. I’ve dedicated myself to the pruning of apples, pears, and cherries here in Washington state.”
“Hello, I am from Oaxaca de Juarez. My occupation is field work, where I’ve sown corn and beans, and nowadays apples and pears at Whitestone Mountain Orchard. I am very happy to work with Hal and Claire in the field.”
—Juan Carlos Gutierez Valverde, crewmember
““Hi, I’m originally from a town in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. I have been here for 6 years thanks to our employers who give us confidence and see the effort of our work. I enjoy making up nicknames for the different trees in the orchard. Thanks to all who have helped me give a better life to my family.”
—Rigoberto Vasquez Luna, crewmember