Over 99% of Wisconsin farms are family-owned. And that’s a fact! It’s also a fact that the average American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide. That’s a statistic Okray Family Farms is proud to contribute to as a farm that’s been family-owned and operated since 1905.
Originally, the farm started out as Joseph Okray & Bros. Co., with Okray Produce Co. being incorporated in 1918. But the growth didn’t stop there. In the early 60’s, Okray Family Farms built their new warehouse on River Drive in Plover and became known as one of the “Top 100 Vegetable Growers” in 2009 thanks to their sustainable practices and equitable hiring opportunities and fair trade practices. In fact, the organization is one of Wisconsin’s longest-standing potato operations. That something worth celebrating. And they did celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2005.
It’s an industry Dick Okray says he couldn’t be more proud to be a part of. “I am honored to know so many great people in the best industry in the world”. If you’re looking for a “people person,” then Dick Okray is your guy. He, along with others on the Okray Family Farms team, doesn’t hesitate to lend a hand and will answer/advise on just about any potato-related question/issue.
A 1977 graduate of Stevens Point Pacelli High School, Okray continued on at UW-Stevens Point and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Economics and a minor in Spanish. He graduated from UWSP in 1982 and has been at the farm ever since.
And with that kind of experience comes a visual of many trends across time. One of those trends being potato packaging regarding size, materials, etc. “For some time now, household size has been shrinking,” Okray says, “and consumers have been picking up smaller and smaller bags of spuds. Private label has taken hold just about everywhere and everything from poly/mesh to ventilator bags are in vogue.”
But this doesn’t mean the glass is half empty. Okray says this new trend gives everyone the chance to re-design what’s currently being offered, which he thinks should be done at least every 10 years. And even after more than 100 years, the farm continues to grow.
Raising thousands of acres of vegetables, about 1,800 of them are potatoes. Their offered varieties range between reds, russets and yellows, to name a few.
A former representative for Wisconsin on the United States Potato Board, Okray continues to stay involved in the industry providing America’s favorite vegetable!