[NAFEX] Fwd: Dr. Fallahi in Idaho

Bassem Samaan bassem at gardener.com
Sat Sep 12 06:24:47 EDT 2009

Just in case that link didn't work here's the story.  

'Ambassador Of Fruit' Introduces Potential Crops To Idaho


Parma, ID  September 11, 2009 4:07 p.m.

Who would think that Idaho and Iran have anything in common? 

Dr. Esmaeil Fallahi does.  He's an Iranian immigrant and Idaho fruit
researcher who says his orchard shows the similarities between southern
Idaho and his homeland -- and that''s been good for Idaho agriculture. 
Correspondent Guy Hand reports.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "OK, as you can see every fruit in here is different . .

Dr. Esmaeil FallahiDr. Esmaeil Fallahi walks through his fruit orchard at
the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center in Parma.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "Down here we have walnuts that I brought from my family
ranch in Northern Iran and also mulberries."

He points to crops most Idahoans wouldn't think could grow here figs,
pistachios, almonds, even pomegranates.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "Those trees over there, they are quince.  They make
excellent jam and excellent fruit."

Quince is in the apple family.  By mid October each one of these
cantalope-sized fruits will weigh around two pounds.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "These are persimmons.  Nobody could believe that we
could grow persimmons here, but this is seven, eight years that we've had
persimmon every year . . . ."

Dr. Fallahi is professor of Pomology, the science of fruit physiology, at
the Parma Research Center.  He has black hair, a quick smile and the
faith that far more varieties of fruit will grow in Idaho than currently
do.  That's because they grew on his grandfather's ranch in his native

Esmaeil Fallahi: "My family ranch is located in the region of Telegrand
and it is quite similar to where we are in Idaho.  It is high desert
condition and warm days and cool nights.  That's  pretty much the same
conditions that we have in southwest Idaho."

Dr. Fallahi came to the U.S. 34 years ago to study horticulture.  He got
his masters and Phd. here in the Northwest. 

Eventually, Fallahi and his young Iranian family moved to Idaho where he
began working at the Parma Research Center.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "Coming to Idaho was quite an experience in that I found
the region quite similar to my family ranch, but the variety of fruit
crops was not nearly as much that you can see in the region that I came
from.  And that's why I started growing crops that at the beginning I was
laughed at a number of times, but that was O.K., my curiosity told me
that I have to continue."

Thousands of years of farming history is one of the reasons that Persia,
now Iran, grows far more varieties of crops than Idaho. 

Esmaeil Fallahi: "At the beginning I could see that they are saying this
Persian Guy is nuts.  What is he doing?"

Dr. Fallahi says he understands why people were wary of him, his Iranian
family and his odd ideas about fruit.  That's why he would introduce
himself as Persian . . . .

Esmaeil Fallahi: "And of course when I introduce myself as Persian the
good thing is that 80% of people don't know that Persia is same as Iran
and the bad thing is that people need to be better with their geography. 
But when they see the fruits that I am producing here, fruits will
attract them.  And after they try the fruit, then I become a nice guy. 
That fruit becomes like a white flag."

A recent national magazine article called Fallahi an "ambassador of
fruit." He must be because years ago the Idaho farmers he has helped
warmed up to this now American citizen they effectionately call "Essie"
and to his white flag of fruit.

Tom Elias: "Let's rock & roll . . . (Sound of tractor)"

Tom Elias is one of those Idaho farmer.  He's netting rows of table
grapes ' grapes he started growing because of Dr. Fallahi.

Tom Elias: "What Essie's done is brought a new dimension to fruit
production here in the state of Idaho.  And not only is it table grapes,
but we're looking at peaches, apples, we've got alternative fruit crops
here, and everything was introduced by Essie here in the state."

According to Elias, Dr. Fallahi virtually created Idaho's now burgeoning
commercial table grape business, convinced farmers to grow Fuji apples
and established Idaho's small but growing specialty fruit business.  But
bringing this diversity to Idaho has required some personal risk.

Dr. Fallahi and colleagues have traveled back to Iran and other troubled
parts of the world to collect plants.

Esmaeil Fallahi: "Some of these grapes came as far as Kandahar,
Afghanistan and that was quite an adventure to bring it and going there
and not knowing that every minute a bomb may explode or whatever.  But if
you are a true gardener by the heart, you can take that chance.  Either a
true gardener or crazy! One of them."

But bombs may not be as big a threat to Dr. Fallahi's research as budget
cuts.  The University of Idaho is considering closing or greatly
curtailing work at the Parma Research Center, the only facility in Idaho
testing exotic fruit crops. 

Today, though, the fate of the Center and Dr. Fallahi's work is

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Lon J. Rombough"
  Subject: [NAFEX] Fwd: Dr. Fallahi in Idaho
  Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 19:25:26 -0700

  'Ambassador Of Fruit' Introduces Potential Crops To Idaho
  OPB News - Portland,OR,USA
  He's netting rows of table grapes ' grapes he started growing
  because of Dr. ... And not only is it table grapes, but we're
  looking at peaches, apples, ...

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Bass Samaan

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