Seeking lease, partership, or creative arrangement: 1-5 ac in Coast Range or Western Willamette Valley for Tea Production


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Land Seeker Description

Hello, curious land holders! My name is Gavin, and I’m on the lookout for a suitable site to establish a sustainable tea (Camellia sinensis) plot for finished loose leaf tea production. I have quite a few years of experience growing and producing tea, and am excited at the prospect of developing tea as another specialty commodity for the Pacific Northwest. For those unfamiliar, tea is a perennial evergreen shrub in the Camellia genus. The same plant is used to produce all sorts of “true” tea (green, black, white, oolong, etc.), though certain varietals are often best suited to one specific style of production. It is widely grown in mountainous temperate and subtropical areas similar to Oregon’s incredible coast range, and its soil needs are very similar to the wild blueberries and rhododendrons that we find in such abundance in our native forests. A well tended tea plot, particularly one grown from seed germinated plants, can be expected to produce well for many decades. Working in Japan, one of the plots that we tended was around 70 years old and still in peak health. It is the sort of crop that can build equity in the land while also preserving soil integrity.

I currently work at the only production scale tea farm in Oregon, but I am looking for the opportunity to grow into my own project. While I have done quite a bit of work to grow the tea program with my employer, they are primarily invested in the vegetable CSA side of their business and do not have the resources to take the tea beyond being a side project. Through my years of work I have developed a business plan and many connections in the retail/wholesale side of the industry, and am about as confident as any farmer can be in the financial potential of my crop. I know that good stewardship of the land only really works when the livelihood of the farmer is sustained, as well. Tea, I believe, is ideal for both.

While I would very much like to own my own plots some time in the future, I do not currently have the finances for such a substantial purchase. Because of the years required to establish a tea plot, as well as the longevity of the crop, I am looking for someone who is amenable to such an agreement as a long-term lease, lease-to-own, or possibly even a partnership with the right person. I am also interested in cooperative farming/stewardship projects, and could be on board with collaborating with the right group of people. I very much look forward to connecting with land holders to explore this possibility together!


What features of the property are essential?

Well-drained, acidic soil is necessary for tea to grow. Wooded borders or topography that can provide some shade to the tea plants, particularly in the evening, is ideal.

Water rights are another big one. Tea has very low water needs, but adequate watering in the summer during the establishment period is absolutely essential.

Zoning for agritourism is not strictly necessary, but would be a massive plus.

On-site storage facilities, likewise, are not essential, but would be beneficial.


Describe your farming experience

3 years farming organic tea, oranges, rice, and soy beans in Fujieda City, Shizuoka, Japan.
4 years farming organic tea, berries, and veg in Salem, OR.
Rogue Farm Corp Farm Launch Program, 2023-24


Are you currently farming?

Yes

What are your short term goals for the land

My immediate goal is to prepare a suitable site for establishment while growing my nursery stock. With the appropriate care and attention during the first two years of establishment, I hope to begin harvesting by spring of the third year. Initial sales will primarily be direct to customer via e-commerce and some in-person sales at events, but my intention is to establish some wholesale accounts at this point, as well. If possible, agritourism opportunities will be an especially important source of income during this time.


What are your long term goals

I aim for peak plot productivity by year six or seven. By that point, I hope to be in the process of establishing additional production plots. As the plot begins to produce more, I hope to transition to a higher number of wholesale accounts, including raw leaf sales to area restaurants. By the tenth year I would like to be able to bring on an employee to train in both plot management and tea processing.


Describe your housing needs

My partner and I are open to on-site housing opportunities, depending on the location. We are not, however, specifically seeking land with available housing.


What will you do as a farmer to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for everyone on your farm and in your community?

I recognize that many groups of people have been marginalized and denied access to material resources and to the land. Often times these have been the same people who had the deepest investment in good stewardship practices. As this project grows, I hope to use my privilege to uplift the needs of those who are otherwise obstructed from fulfilling their needs by the many forms of systemic oppression inherent to our society.

Additional Land Seeker Details

Regions interested in farming:
Coastal, 5, South Willamette Valley, North Willamette Valley

Acreage desired:
1 - 5 acres

Seeking land access by:
March 1, 2025

Interested in raising the following crops / livestock:
Other

Interested in these business arrangements:
Lease-to-own, Lease with option to purchase, Lease for cash, Lease for trade, Partnership, Other

Interested in these growing practices:
Certified Organic

Date when this profile was last modified or created:
June 3, 2024



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