Celebrating 20 Years
The Green Living Journal has been publishing practical information for friends of the environment in Vermont for 20 years and our Portland-Vancouver edition has been up and running for over 2 years now. As part of our celebration of these milestones we felt we needed to publish the stories of some of the other local businesses that are also 20 years old or more. We look forward to the next 20 years and all the exciting changes that are coming. In this issue we asked David Stelzer of Azure Standard to tell us their story.
Five generations of our family have been farming in the Dufur area since 1954. The Azure Standard story really begins in 1971 when we made radical changes in the operation of our 2,000-acre dry-land wheat and cattle ranch.
In the 1950’s almost all the farmers in America began using chemical fertilizers because the lure of higher yields was just too great to pass up. Not long afterward, the soil deteriorated to the point where the weeds and insects began to attack the crops, so pesticides and herbicides soon followed.
Our family was caught in the cycle like most farmers, until 1971 when we took our farm out of the chemical cycle “cold turkey,” so to speak. In the first year, the chemical-dependent land only produced a small percentage of what it had formerly produced. At this point most farmers would have gone back to chemical use for economic survival. But, sticking to our convictions, we fought ignorance and lack of information in order to keep on without chemical use. As the years went on, the soil slowly regained its natural fertility.
As a result of farming in this manner, both commercially, and on smaller scale in large gardens and orchards for our own use, our family became healthier.
We began selling this healthier food to others who also wanted to reap the benefits of better nutrition. Our newfound customers soon began asking for different natural and organic products that we didn’t grow here on our farm, but we scrambled to find those products for them. Thus, in 1987, Azure Standard was born.
Here, we understand that naturally grown foods are instrumental in producing a long and satisfying life. We’d like to see more farmers and home gardeners turn to natural organic growing practices, so we do what we can to not only support the organic farmer, but also provide as many organic products as possible.
We chose to call our business Azure Standard, to signify by the name what we are attempting to do. Azure is a shade of blue that has been associated with law, justice, and honesty. In raising an azure standard, we want to place an honest standard in the marketing of food. We feel that the correct way to effect a positive change is not to attack the way it is being done, but to begin to do it right.
Azure now delivers to 40,000 customers in 21 states and we have about 7,500 items in our catalog. Two generations of our family work here and we employ a total of 70 people directly plus we work with 22 independent delivery truckers. In an average month there are about 125 drops made in the Portland area (between Salem and Battleground, WA) which include health food stores, food coops, and individual homes.
We are dedicated to the “organic principle” of cooperating with nature and we pray others will join us so that we may once again see prosperity in our land.
To see their catalog or to learn more about Azure Standard visit their website: www.azurestandard.com