Sue Chen is an amazing woman to feature during Women in Ag week! Sue started her own farm in February 2016 in Yamhill, OR. Her farm name is Cow Pig Dragon and is nestled in the beautiful hills of Yamhill, right in the heart of Willamette Valley. Her all-organic hazelnut brand is called Love Hazelnuts, with acreage of just over 22 acres.
Sue’s agricultural experience is interesting because she had no Ag experience when she started her farm! Her “day” job is actually as the CEO of NOVA medical products, headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, where she founded the company to offer stylish designs and choices to people using mobility equipment. Cow Pig Dragon was her first real Ag experience so she jumped right in and planted a Hazelnut orchard!
We asked Sue how she became interested in Ag, especially as a CEO in a big city! She recalls special memories growing up as a little girl on her dad’s farm. He raised cows, chickens and other animals, as well as grew all types of vegetables in Florida. Since then, it’s always been a dream of hers and she decided to just go for it!
Sue has had a couple of major contributors to the success of her orchard, including Paul Ridgway of OVS/Cascade Water Systems—offering advice on landscape, vision and providing support through irrigation work. Mark Schrepel of Century Farms, just up the street, has also been a staple in Sue’s farming adventure. Mark heard about Sue starting her farm and has been so helpful and willing to offer advice along the way. Mark comes from a long history of family farming! She is grateful to everyone who has helped her along the way.
We asked Sue if she has encountered any setbacks or roadblocks as a female in the Ag industry. She said, “It seems people have actually been pleasantly surprised by the work I can do by myself.” She said she feels that everyone has been very supportive and she also mentioned how fulfilling farming is and how it gives back, like keeping her happy and healthy, while giving her a great workout!
Sue continues learning every day. It’s an endless journey of learning! She’s learning about the many varietals of planting, while better understanding the relationship with the soil and soil regeneration. Soil impacts everything that’s growing, including other animals/creatures (bees and birds) and as Sue descirbes, is one of the most important factors in growing.
In her spare time, Sue is a member of the Yamhill Enrichment Society in Yamhill County and enjoys gardening and diving!
Sue’s advice for other females in Ag: “Mother Earth needs more ladies! We need more mothers of the earth to care and steward the land and grow food. It’s something that’s very inherent in women and we’re just good at it! It’s good for us too. It’s the perfect reciprocal activity. You get so much back!”