If you counted all the onions that River Point Farms has supplied to Subway® for the past 15 years, they would total over 880 million. Lined up end-to end, says farm president Bob Hale, they would stretch out for roughly 42,000 miles, wrapping around the Earth more than one and a half times.
Thanks to Oregon-based River Point Farms’ commitment to quality and sustainability, that number demonstrates what a trusted supplier Subway knows them to be.
“I started my first farm, Hale Farms, in 1977, and that became the foundation for River Point Farms, which I started with another local farmer in 1983," says Hale. "We owned the land, farmed it, planted the seeds, owned the tractors, tilled it, harvested it. We grew nothing but onions.”
What began as a mere 50 acres of onion fields is now a lush 7,000 acres, allowing River Point Farms to supply over 70 percent of Subway’s North American restaurants with delicious red onions.
Just how do those farm fresh onions make it to your Subway sandwich?
Starting in September, says Hale, a cover crop gets planted to help protect the soil from wind erosion. The fields then sit through the winter. Onions seeds are planted and tilled in March, and by early-to-mid fall, they’re ready to be harvested and packaged.
The onions that meet Subway’s high-quality specifications go into 35-pound bags to be shipped to Subway restaurants all over North America.
River Point Farms uses irrigation techniques that reduce water consumption. (Photo: River Point Farms/Facebook)
“I may be a little biased,” Hale says, “but I believe that farmers are some of the world’s first environmentalists. If you take care of the land, the water, they take care of you.”
Sustainability is one of River Point Farms’ top priorities. They use a special irrigation technique called center pivot irrigation that helps them reduce water consumption. Their onions are packaged in recyclable material.
They also go through third-party food safety audits to ensure that the onions are always safe for their customers to eat.
“We feel a strong commitment to safe food,” Hale says. “If we’re going to be feeding people, we want them to understand and know that what we grow and sell is as safe as it can possibly be. And we share those values with Subway.”
River Point Farms also takes food waste seriously. The onions that don’t get shipped or processed go to the Oregon Food Bank, and they donate up to 900,000 pounds of food per year to feed Oregonians and other people in the region.
“The foundation of what I do, what I’ve spent my whole life doing, is feeding people,” says Hale. “I believe that people of all economic levels deserve to be able to eat. So not only do we sell food commercially into the marketplace to make a living, but we also donate food because people have a need.”
The onions not used to feed people get sent to dairy farms as feed for calves, so hardly anything gets wasted.
From Oregon fields to your sandwich, River Point Farms stays true to the same values Hale has committed to from the beginning — treating the land and the environment right, and treating their people like family.
Top Image Credit: River Point Farms/Facebook