Category Archives: Headwaters News

From our farmers: The secret to healthy plants: it’s all ground-up

Pete from Udan Farm, pouring compost tea

This is the third in our “From our farmers” series, and was contributed by Pete Munyon of Udan Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.

Hi folks! Pete from Udan Farm here. I just wanted to take a minute to share a little of my excitement for ground-up ecology-building at Headwaters Farm with you. The folks from EMSWCD have done some awesome work restoring the native species to our little section of Johnson Creek, and now we’re looking forward to doing the same with the dirt in the Udan Farm field.

We all know that all animal life on earth depends on plants, but we don’t hear as often how plants depend on bacteria and fungi to help them structure the soil, get nutrients from the soil and air, and hold water in the soil. After several decades without promoting biotic activity, our soil has been taken pretty far from its natural state. To improve conditions we’ll be growing a variety of native wild flowers around the edge of our field, and soil building with ground covers underneath our crops. To help support these plants and our crops, one of our first activities this season was to spray our field with Actively Aerated Compost Tea (AACT). Read more

From our farmers: My journey with organic certification at Headwaters

This is the second in our “From our farmers” series, and was contributed by Sue Nackoney of Gentle Rain Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.

Ever since Jim and I started Livin’ Spoonful, where we make yummy raw food crackers and cookies, we were committed to 100% organic ingredients. In our minds, there was no other way to be offering food to people that was truly nourishing, with the intention of helping them to thrive. That was almost 13 years ago.

Today, with our feet on the ground for our first season at Headwaters, we are finally realizing our vision of growing our own food ingredients for the crackers. It has been such a joy to be able to start Gentle Rain Farm and be a part of this amazing program and opportunity. Read more

From our farmers: Timing is everything!

Brian of Wild Roots Farm

This piece was contributed by Brian Shipman of Wild Roots Farm, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program. This is the first in a series “From our farmers”; stay tuned for more Headwaters news soon!

There’s a simple, overused saying that I frequently refer to when making decisions on the farm or in the garden: timing is everything. In the spring, time moves erratically, in fits and spurts that are dictated by our transitioning weather. After spending much time in the winter laying plans and plotting calendar schedules for the upcoming growing season, it is so exciting to see the days lengthen and temperatures rise. All the plans we make in the off-season are so important in the spring, when we don’t have time to waste thinking about numbers, dates and so on. There are basically two modes to a farmer’s year: on- and off-season. For most farmers, winter is off-season – time for rest. The spring is the crucial transitional period when we know the countdown has begun – and it can be a challenge to remain patient knowing the work that lies ahead!

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That was NIFTI!

Rowan explains the irrigation system at Headwaters Farm to NIFTI Tour participants

What I took away from Field School 2014

by Rowan Steele, Farm Incubator Manager

On October 3rd the farm incubator world descended on Headwaters Farm as part of the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative’s (NIFTI) annual Field School. The three-day event included two days of meetings, lectures, discussions and networking, and ended with a day of farm tours and onsite presentations.

As with any conference, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of topics, interactions, ideas and the general “nerd-fest.” The 2014 NIFTI Field School was no different—a complete inundation of everything that is beginning farmer development. It has taken a few weeks just to process the experience. In fact, I think it might take a full off-season before the content can be fully synthesized in relation to the Headwaters Incubator Program (HIP). Read more

Updates from Headwaters

It’s been a great season for the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program; one that has seen both the farm and its farmers grow by leaps and bounds.

This year there were eight farm businesses operating at Headwaters Farm. These businesses range from small scale medicinal herb operations to multi-acre vegetable production for restaurant sales. The diversity being produced onsite is evident in the range of markets where these products are sold. For example, several incubator farms practice Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)—subscription farming directly to the consumer—some of which are even forging a new approach to this model by providing bulk ‘canning shares’ of complementary preservable crops, like dill, pickling cucumbers, and garlic. Still Other farmers go with more traditional routes like selling at farmers markets or to local retail outlets. Read more

Reviewing Oregon’s New Agriculture Census Data

The USDA recently released the preliminary results for the 2012 Census of Agriculture, a statistical overview of national and state agriculture. Oregon’s results in a nutshell: we have an aging farmer population with fewer individuals engaged in farming. Here are a few key takeaways, with further explanation below:

Oregon farmer trends infographic

  • There were eight percent fewer farmers in Oregon from 2007 to 2012, with six percent less males and 15% less female farmers.
  • The age of farmers under 44 years old decreased 22% between 2012 and 2007.
  • The number of operators who have been farming for nine years or less — how the USDA defines a “new farmer” — decreased by 25% from 2012 to 2007.
  • The age of farmers under 44 years old decreased 22% between 2012 and 2007.
  • The average age of Oregon’s farmers is now just a hair under 60 — over two years older than it was in 2007 and exactly two years older than the national average.

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