Lots of stuff in life is hard – but the rewards are worth it. Trust us when we say… we get it. When you grow fruit, you wait three years for your first harvestable crop. You plant a seedling or start a small graft, you have faith and you wait. If everything goes right and Mother Nature is kind, we see apples.

Life is a lot like that too and Chris Goodner, our GIS Specialist, reminds us just how precious these rewarding gifts can be thanks to his love of hiking. But first, in case you’re wondering what a GIS Specialist does – Chris combines his education in physical geography and resource management to work with a combination of hardware and software to map and maintain graphical representations and features of our various orchards and growing locations. The maps he creates helps our staff identify the kinds of tools and resources that are needed to most efficiently farm each location.

It’s no surprise that with a background in geography Chris likes to get outside. Unlike many of our employees, Chris wasn’t born and raised with the mountains as his playground. As a Midwest transplant, Chris wasn’t even raised with a mountain in sight. But the idea that you bloom where you’re planted sure rings true with Chris.

Chris and his wife moved to Washington from the Midwest in 2013 to go to school and they fell in love with the people and the place. It was the place…the geography of course, that excited Chris and further fueled his passion for the outdoors and allowed him to camp, hike, snowshoe and photograph some of nature’s most remarkable portraits.

GoodnerTrail - Rainier Fruit

It’s through the lens of a camera that Chris can capture a simple moment.

“We were camping to the south of Mt. Rainier and as the sun set we were able to see lenticular clouds form over the summit. The low sun angle provided an amazing setting and fantastic photos.”

It’s the appreciation of the simple things that make farming and a wholesome lifestyle so rewarding and Chris gets that. Whether it’s in the Midwest or in Washington, hiking has been one of Chris’ favorite pastimes for as long as he can remember.  Before moving to Washington, Chris hiked through the various glacial landscapes of the Midwest, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Whitefish Dunes State Park, Eben Ice Caves and more. From his words, it’s clear he knows where to go.

“The coolest places to visit are not always the easiest to get to, but they are often the most rewarding. One of my favorite experiences was camping at the top of a mountain just east of Mt. Rainier.  We had a great opportunity to see the sun set behind Mt. Rainier and then see the morning glow wash over the volcano as the first rays of light hit the glaciers on top. But regardless of where you hike, each area has its own unique characteristics providing special views, flora, fauna and experiences.”

For Chris, he understands that creating a work/life balance includes doing what you love but also finding opportunities to disconnect and recharge and backcountry hiking provides a great outlet. It’s also a great place to help his new family addition, a puppy, burn off energy. Chris believes that Wholesome to the Core is a lifestyle you work at. You make choices to eat healthy, to be active and get fit – even when it’s hard.

Chris Goodner Bridge - Rainier Fruit

It’s clear that Chris and his wife are not only loving Washington, but proud new members of the Rainier Fruit family and the Yakima Valley as they expand their journey to become more involved with the local community including supporting La Casa Hogar. This amazing organization works with Latina immigrants to provide education, relationship development and self-esteem programming that includes English/Spanish literacy, adult basic education, digital inclusion, financial literacy, healthy education, parenting, pre-school preparation for their children and citizenship education.

We love employees like Chris who embrace our little slice of paradise and become members of not only our team, but our communities. People in some parts of the country might not understand what we find so appealing out here in the Washington high desert, and it can certainly be easier to get to other parts of the country that have more access and more things, but we think we have all we need. Chris is right, the easiest is not the most rewarding.