CPN's founder, Mike Fahner, was a 3rd generation Fahner farmer. His father, Fred, owned a potato farm in Tulelake, CA, and his grandfather managed a dairy farm. From a young age, Mike would ride to work on the back of his dad's motorcycle, where he spent most of his childhood learning the ropes from Fred. After high school, Mike attended the University of Nevada, Reno, where he obtained his business degree and started a corporate sales job. Mike quickly realized that he wasn't cut out for desk work, so he returned to the family farm after a few years.
It was around 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 recognized the opportunities that existed in the strawberry nursery business, but also understood it was an industry with very specific needs. 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 much thought, Mike and his wife, Debbie, left their hometown, purchased new ground in Dorris, CA (adjacent to Macdoel), and started their very own strawberry nursery.
‘Stateline Farms Inc.” was officially founded in 2004. Shortly after, the company began operating under the name, “Cedar Point Nursery” (CPN), which is a 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 and produces around 75 to 80 million plants annually.
Since its inception, CPN is extremely proud of several hallmark contributions to the nursery business. We are the only nursery that is locally borne, and Mike was the youngest member in an industry that is notoriously difficult to penetrate. Over the years, CPN has carved out a reputation as being one of the most innovative nurseries, 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 first employed subsurface drip irrigation at all stages of nursery production in 2003. This was a significant step forward because drip irrigation drastically reduced disease and yield loss in production fields. Disease typically spreads through splashing water, which is unavoidable with overhead irrigation, but drip irrigation allows for precise control of moisture levels in beds, which reduces disease pressure and also decreases water and nitrogen consumption by nearly 50%.
In 2008, the team introduced the first fully vented micro tunnel system. The original intent was to protect the plants from Mother Nature’s wrath, but the tunnels also aid in UV light transmission, which substantially increases soil temperature, promotes, growth, and reduces fungal spore germination. The tunnels create a mini-greenhouse around each bed, which nurtures young and developing plants that would otherwise be exposed to wind, rain, sleet, and snow.
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.
As of today, CPN is 1 of 9 nurseries with primary locations in Butte Valley, California, and 1 of 6 major providers of UC Strawberry varieties. Additionally, we are the only high elevation nurseries to partner with the UC Davis Strawberry Plant Breeding program, where new plant varieties are grown and tested on our ranch.
Commercially, we grow public varieties from UC and UF to the tune of about 75 million strawberry plants annually. These plants are then sold to growers throughout California, Florida, Mexico, and Canada. During the growing season (March- November) CPN employs roughly 60 full-time employees and as many as 400 during harvest. This fall, CPN will partner with the University of Florida to examine how winter chilling at the nursery field affects the quality and performance of strawberry transplants.
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.