Category Archives: Conservation Legacy

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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Nadaka Nature Park & Garden – Grand Opening Celebration

photo from the 2014 Nadaka Groundbreaking event

Join us to celebrate the official opening of Nadaka Nature Park & Garden in Gresham this Saturday, April 4th! The new park features community gardens, a nature-based play area and picnic shelter, as well as a 10-acre forest! You can meet Audubon Society of Portland’s education birds, learn from Slough School, and help spread seeds on the new eco-lawn. A nature play expert from ONPLAY will also be on hand to demonstrate the ways the nature play area can be used, and there will be refreshments and fun activities for the whole family! Watch the video below to learn more, and read more after the break.

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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

Announcing our 2014 Partners in Conservation Grants!

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District announces its 2014 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants totaling $862,000 awarded to conservation and environmental education projects in the District’s boundaries (all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette River).

The District received 39 PIC applications this year, representing projects in each of its grant program areas: restoration, sustainable agriculture, project design/engineering, pollution prevention, stormwater management, monitoring, and environmental education. The PIC grant program funds projects on an annual basis through a competitive process that seeks to support those efforts most closely aligned with the District’s strategic priorities.

This year, the EMSWCD Board of Directors awarded 27 grants, including three multi-year PIC Plus grants, which are multi-stakeholder initiatives that demonstrate benefits from committed multi-year support. Projects vary considerably in scope, from restoring large acreages of habitat in the Johnson Creek watershed to community gardening with immigrant populations in East Portland. “The quality and diversity of projects this year is incredible. These grants allow us to reach all corners of the District, supporting the great work of these organizations while also leveraging other funding,” said Jay Udelhoven, Executive Director of EMSWCD. 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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