In March of 1928, Grady Auvil, and his brothers Robert and David purchased 22 acres of land in the community of Orondo, Washington, located about 25 miles north of East Wenatchee on the Columbia River and founded Auvil Fruit Company. Grady and his brothers’ dream of owning their own orchard was about to come true. After clearing the land, which was mostly rock and sagebrush, they planted apples and apricots with Bartlett pears as fillers and built a house on the land, working for other people until the orchard came into production. Grady and his brothers planted more orchard in 1935; and by 1940 they were farming about 40 acres. Later, peaches were added to the other varieties of fruit already in the ground. In 1947, they built a packing facility and cold storage in Orondo and began packing and storing their own fruit. By the end of the 1940s, Auvil Fruit Company had expanded to 75 acres. In the 1950s after the building of the Rocky Reach Dam, much of the orchard had to be replanted on higher ground. Grady and his brothers purchased new land adjacent to their original orchard and began to rebuild, taking this as an opportunity to experiment with new varieties and planting methods.
In the 1960s they planted some of the first Red Gold nectarines in the Northwest, and continued to expand. By 1977, Auvil’s farm had grown to 250 acres, with 215 acres on which cherries, pears, peaches, nectarines as well as Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples were produced. In 1979, Auvil Fruit Company purchased a 1,000 acre piece of land in Kittitas County, 12 miles south of Vantage, Washington, planting the first 100 acres the following year. By the 1990s, Auvil Fruit Company owned and farmed over 1,000 acres, and had shifted production almost exclusively to apples and cherries. In 1994, Auvil Fruit Company built a much larger packing facility at its corporate headquarters in Orondo.
Auvil Fruit currently owns and farms over 1,500 acres of apples and cherries. Maintaining Grady Auvil’s passion for supplying top quality fruit, and continuing to employ innovative farming practices, Auvil Fruit Company continues to be a leader in the premium fruit market.
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Grady Auvil was more than a pioneer in the field of agriculture. He was a philanthropist and a visionary who would greatly influence an industry for generations to come. He changed many conventional farming practices along the way, benefiting countless growers throughout the fruit industry.
In the early 1940s, Grady established the Red Haven peach variety in the Northwest. Later, he introduced the use of grass cover in orchards, and demonstrated the effectiveness of using poplar trees as windbreaks. In 1953, he was elected President of the Washington State Horticulture Association, and the following year he was named Grower of the Year. In the early 1960s he introduced the Red Gold variety of nectarine and 8 years later he cofounded the grower-funded Washington State Tree Fruit Research Center, an organization dedicated to supporting research to benefit fruit growers throughout Washington State. Grady was the first person to commercially plant Granny Smith apples in Washington State, predicting they would sell due to the high volume of red apples in the market at the time. He pioneered the use of the M26 root stock and quality production of Fuji apples in Washington State. He was also instrumental in the successful marketing of Rainier cherries. In 1981 he was named Grower of the Year for a second time and received the “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” award at the Wenatchee Apple Blossom Festival. In 1986, he was honored as the “Cherry King” by the Washington State Cherry Commission. In 1990, he was named “Grower of the Year” for a third time. He was also honored with the Gamma Sigma Delta Award of Merit and the Washington State Legislature’s “Washington State Medal of Merit”, from Governor Gary Locke, the state’s highest award for achievements which have benefited others. Grady Auvil’s numerous achievements and contributions have left an enormous foot print in the fruit industry, and his influence on agriculture can still be felt today.