The Oregon hazelnut industry is really more of a community—a community of growers who help each other out, share ideas and work toward the common goal of sustainably producing more and better hazelnuts. Dan and JoAnn Keeley have consistently promoted this mentality and dedication to the overall betterment of the Oregon hazelnut industry.
The Keeley’s are fourth-generation Oregon farmers, but they are the first generation to make the foray into hazelnuts. In 1898, JoAnn’s great-grandfather purchased the land JoAnn and Dan now call home; in the 100-plus years since then, the family has produced a variety of crops, including clover, grass seed, row crops, honey, hazelnuts and chestnuts. Today, the Keeley’s are semi-retired, running only the hazelnuts with the remaining acreage rented out. In the early days, JoAnn was the primary farm manager; later, Dan was able to quit working in town to work full time on the farm, and to this day, they work side-by-side in the field. The Keeley’s manage one of the few remaining Casina orchards—an older variety not often seen in the Willamette Valley anymore, along with plantings of several new varieties.
The Keeley’s have also been very active in leading various groups within and outside of the Oregon hazelnut industry. They have been or are active in the Oregon Hazelnut Commission, Nut Growers Society, extension advisory committees, Farm Bureau, 1000 Friend of Oregon and Grange. Their support to their trees, their land and the overall hazelnut community is helping propel Oregon hazelnuts to a new level.