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Local Family Grows Goodness

farmer Pat and his wife and dogs standing in front of a greenhouse

Pat Schenk is one of those guys that everybody seems to know. When he moved to the area in 1979, he came with big dreams and a strong work ethic. But he quickly ran into roadblocks at local banks because he didn’t have credit and he hadn’t lived in the area long enough. That’s when he became a member of the credit union that forever changed the way he thought about finances and how he could achieve his lifelong dreams.

When Pat moved here in 1979, he was a 19-year old with a good job at Owens Corning. But he found himself walking back and forth to work. What he needed was new pickup truck. But he needed a loan to buy it. Back then, a good truck cost about $4,000 with most of the extras. However, the local banks wouldn’t give him the loan.

“I was told I hadn’t been a resident of the state long enough,” Pat shared about his conversation with a bank loan officer. A few weeks later he was told about the credit union, joined, and got the loan for the truck.

He’s been with St. Helens Community Credit Union ever since. And he has no plans to leave — ever.

“Back in 1985 we wanted to buy a spot on Deer Island. The credit union helped us get the funding we needed for the property. They also helped us start a small greenhouse business.”

Over the years, the family expanded their greenhouse empire, grew more veggies and sold them locally at their small stand off Highway 30 at the Canaan Hill turn. They found local restaurants that wanted the fresh veggies too.

“Every time we needed a loan to expand or put in a new system, the credit union was there to help. I have been eternally grateful. The credit union even taught us how we could use a Business Visa® credit card to finance our own projects and pay it back over time.”

The move allowed Pat and his wife to complete a rainwater collection project as part of a federal grant, along with other forward-thinking, farm enhancing endeavors.

“St. Helens Community has been great. I cannot remember a time that the credit union said no. They are always willing to work with us. It’s like we’re doing business with friends.”

Today, Canaan Hill Farm has five acres of fruit-growing trees, including room for seasonal strawberries, artichokes, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, table grapes, melons, cucumbers, squash, onions, garlic, herbs, walnuts and a lot of other produce.

You can find Pat and his wife’s farm on Facebook. There you can place your order for fresh produce with one of our favorite farming families.