The Basics: I am looking for 1.5 to 5 acres of tillable land, to start leasing immediately, with access to electricity and reliable water. Access to other resources such as housing, barn/shed space and greenhouse are desirable but not necessary. If considerable infrastructure investments would be required I will need a longer-term lease to justify the effort. Lease to own or another similar arrangement may work well.
Location: Ideally I would be 30-75 minutes from Portland on the west side of I-5 along the arc from Corbett to Sandy to Canby, OR. The Salem area may be attractive for the right property.
The Farm: It will be a mixed vegetable and dry bean operation with a focus on storage crops and specialty peppers. My rotation plan would have land in cover crops roughly 50% of the time, rotating vegetables in with the dry beans and grains. This rotation is at the core of my pest and weed control strategies. The growing area will be broken into blocks of permanent raised beds to minimize soil disturbance and encourage healthy soil biology. In the early years I will focus on direct marketing at farmers markets as I establish my farming systems and additional marketing channels. I will be using organic practices, and my plan would be to certify as soon as it makes sense. I am happy to share more information on the specifics of growing practices that I intend to pursue.
Me: I have 2 years of farm experience and 10 years of gardening experience. I worked for Wild Garden Seed in Philomath OR for two seasons, helping to produce organic vegetable seed. I also volunteered at Sunbow Organic Farm in Philomath Oregon for a summer. It was my experience on Sunbow farm and Harry McCormack’s Bean & Grain project that initially got me interested in the storage crops. Harry’s vision is to see the Willamette Valley once again producing a considerable portion of the food that it consumes. Beans and grains are a cornerstone of that vision. I also worked as a garden educator for a year with AmeriCorp, establishing a school garden at Duniway Elementary School in Portland, and helping to build a garden/sustainability curriculum for K-5 students. I have an undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in Ecological Engineering where I focused on the design of constructed wetlands for stormwater and wastewater treatment. I also have a Master’s degree from Yale University in Environmental Management. For the past three years I have been working with a consulting firm in Boston performing life cycle (sustainability) assessments for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy. While I feel very committed to the mission of this work, my passion is for farming, and particularly for the implementation and development of sustainable farming practices on small/medium scale operations. I spent 7 years of my life in Oregon, and have been trying to get back ever since leaving for graduate school in the East. I have built up the capital that I need to start my farming operation, and am incredibly excited to be on the verge of coming back to a place that feels like home. I look forward to investing in the land and in my community.
Let me know if you think that you have or know of a property that might meet my needs.
Minimum: Water rights/access, electricity, 1.5 to 5 tillable acres of good veggie land.
2nd priority: barn/structure for storage and wash/pack, housing, greenhouse/hoophouse
3rd priority: tractor/implements, cold storage, etc.
I have 2 years of farm experience and 10 years of gardening experience. I worked for Wild Garden Seed in Philomath OR for two seasons, helping to produce organic vegetable seed. I also volunteered at Sunbow Organic Farm in Philomath Oregon for a summer. I worked as a garden educator for a year with AmeriCorp, establishing a school garden at Duniway Elementary School in Portland, and helping to build a garden/sustainability curriculum for K-5 students.
Year 1: 0.5-0.75 acres of vegetables, 1 acre of dry beans, 0.25 acres of wheat and a minimum of 2 acres in cover crop. I have part time work, 3 days per week continuing my consulting job, that will provide me a cushion in year one as I set up the business, develop marketing channels, build infrastructure, and get my systems nailed down. I am hoping to get into 1 or 2 small farmers markets as a low-pressure way of getting my feet under me.
Year 2: The details will depend on my year one experience. Year two I will likely expand my cash crop and cover crop ground. I hope to expand my marketing channels in year two and am interested in small wholesale accounts, particularly at grocery stores and co-ops. As I move in the wholesale direction I expected to streamline my crop mix.
My medium-term goals are to develop a viable net income off of the farm, preferably by year three. This will allow me to drop the part-time work and scale up my operation. My long-term goal is to feel like I am achieving this while maintaining a sensible work-life balance, working towards and developing my own vision of sustainable agriculture.
Modest affordable housing on the property is ideal, but is not absolutely necessary.
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