CPN Founder, Owner, and President, Mike Fahner, has been in the agriculture industry for over 30 years. At age 10, he began working on his family farm located in a small, rural town in southern California. Back then, the family primarily farmed for potatoes and onions, and before that, Mike’s grandfather was a dairy farmer, making Mike a 3rd generation Fahner Farmer. Mike recalls riding to work on the back of his dad’s motorcycle and spending much of his childhood learning the ropes from his father, Fred. After graduating high school, Mike enrolled in the business program at the University of Nevada, Reno, and left for school in the fall of 1981.
It was at this time that strawberry nursery fields began returning to Macdoel, California, where the higher elevations provided earlier chilling, fruiting, and better fruit quality, size, and firmness. Lassen Canyon Nursery was the first to shift its nurseries from lower elevations to Macdoel, and many others followed shortly after. Mike's hometown of Tulelake was less than an hour away from Macdoel, and when Mike would return for Christmas and summer breaks, he'd pass by acres and acres of strawberry plants, getting a first-hand account of the strawberry renaissance that was occurring.
After graduating, Mike returned home to work on the farm, but was now fully aware of the opportunities that existed within the strawberry nursery business. He researched how to repurpose the potato farm to a strawberry nursery, and after several years, he finally concluded that strawberry plants could not be properly grown in Tulelake. The strawberry nursery industry has very specific needs that can only be met in very specific locations. It demands extremely well-drained land, clean and dependable groundwater, access to quality labor, and lots of chilling hours in September. These elements did not exist in Tulelake, but they did in Macdoel about 40 miles away. After months of careful consideration, Mike and his wife, Debbie, made one of the toughest decisions of their lives: They left their hometown behind, purchased new ground to farm in Dorris, CA (adjacent to Macdoel), and started their very own strawberry nursery.
Beginning with just 10 acres in the late 1990s, ‘Stateline Farms Inc.” was founded. Shortly after, the company began operating under the name, “Cedar Point Nursery” (CPN), which is named after a local landmark at the south end of the ranch. The first planting at CPN consisted of only 10 acres and produced around 2.5 million plants. Today, the farm operates on close to 850 acres with an average annual production of 75 to 80 million plants. CPN is one of 9 nurseries with primary locations in Butte Valley, California, and it supplies growers throughout California, Florida, and Mexico.
Since its inception, Mike and his team are extremely proud of several hallmark contributions to the nursery business. CPN is the only nursery that is locally borne, and Mike is the youngest member in an industry that notoriously has a very high barrier to entry. Over the years, CPN has made quite a name for itself due to its innovative practices and relentless determination, which is exemplified by the development of both the Drip and Tunnel System for plant production. These concepts were first pioneered in CPN's fields, and today nearly all nurseries use some form of this system.
CPN was the first to employ subsurface drip irrigation at all stages of nursery production in 2003. This was a significant step forward within the industry because drip irrigation drastically reduces disease and yield loss in production fields. Disease in strawberry fields typically spreads through splashing water, which is an unavoidable consequence of overhead irrigation. Drip irrigation, alternatively, allows for precise control of moisture levels in the beds, which reduces disease pressure and also decreases water and nitrogen consumption by nearly 50%.
Additionally, in 2008 the team introduced the first fully vented micro tunnel system. The original goal was to protect the plants from Mother Nature’s wrath, as spring on top of a mountain is quite unforgiving. Incredibly harsh elements such as hail, blowing sand, driving rain, and hyper-freezing temperatures are all inevitable, but the plastic tunnel system protects the young and developing plants by creating a mini-greenhouse around each row of plants. The tunnels also aid in UV light transmission, which substantially increases soil temperature, promotes growth, and reduces fungal spore germination.
The coupling of tunnels with drip irrigation was an enormous advancement for the industry. These techniques have reduced huge amounts of risk that used to be carried by both nursery and fruit producers. Now, foliar and soil-borne pathogens originating at the nursery are at historical lows, and CPN is extremely proud of the role they've played in that.
Moving forward, CPN hopes to continue its hard work and innovative practices to continue to deliver the highest quality plants possible. We look forward to many more 'fruitful' years to come.