Category Archives: News

Bringing Beneficial Insects to the Farm

Pollinator strip at Headwaters Farm, Mt Hood in the background

Healthy farmland is a microcosm of a heathy ecosystem; an abundance and diversity of life above and below the soil helping to make nutrients available to plants, ward off pests, pollinate crops, and contribute to the local food web. As the average farm size has grown, there has been a decline in both the quality and quantity of habitats that host farm ecosystems. Other farm practices like broad herbicide application and the reduction of flowering plants have also had negative impacts on beneficial native insects and honey bees.

Headwaters Farm serves as a demonstration site for several approaches to restoring on-farm habitat. The most prominent of these is the restoration work being done in the Dianna Pope Natural Area. This undisturbed area has great habitat and forage value to beneficial insects and is relatively close to the farmland. However, other habitat work is being done within and directly adjacent to fields actively in production. In partnership with the Xerces Society, EMSWCD is developing three defining habitat features: pollinator meadows, hedgerows, and beetle banks. Read more

Announcing our 2015 Partners in Conservation grants!

The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) awards $739,322 through its 2015 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants for conservation and environmental education projects.

We received 34 PIC applications this year, representing projects in each of five grant program areas: restoration and monitoring, stormwater management and urban landscaping, urban gardens and sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and equitable access to conservation benefits. The PIC grant program funds projects through a competitive process in order to support the efforts that are most closely aligned with the EMSWCD’s strategic priorities.

This year, the EMSWCD Board of Directors awarded 24 grants, including two multi-year PIC Plus grants. EMSWCD provides partial funding for most of these projects, with a minimum 1-1 match for all grant amounts over $10,000. EMSWCD’s PIC funding for 2015 will leverage more than $2 million in additional support! A wide variety of projects were funded this year, from a project to restore over 100 acres in the Mirror Lake floodplain to another project that will establish a new community garden at the Floyd Light Middle School in East Portland.

Read the full press release here (PDF), which includes the full list of 24 grant projects and details about each. Learn more about our annual and monthly grants here.

Our 2015 Native Plant Sale

Customers pick up their plants on pickup day

Thank you for supporting our Native Plant Sale! We had a fantastic plant sale “pickup day” this last Saturday: hundreds of people picked up their plant orders, and now thousands of native plants are being planted in and around the District, which will help restore native habitat, support wildlife and lower outdoor water usage. We also want to thank our wonderful volunteers, who helped us package the plants, sort customer orders and distribute them on Saturday! Our Plant Sale would not have been possible without your efforts.

If you are still looking for more native plants, see our Local Sources of Native Plants page. There are several other nearby native plant sales coming soon!

If you were not able to pick up your plants on Saturday, we will process a refund for your order this week. You can email Alex Woolery, our Marketing and Media Specialist, or call him at (503) 935-5367, if you have any questions about your order. Thank you for supporting our Native Plant Sale!

“What does the future hold for your farm?” A free farm succession program

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD), Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District (CCSWCD) and the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University are offering a family farm succession program, entitled “What Does the Future Hold for Your Farm?,” on Tuesday, February 3 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive, Milwaukie, OR 97222. There is no cost for the program and light refreshments will be served.

Oregon farmer trends infographic

Our infographic on Oregon farmer trends, based on data from the USDA 2012 Census of Agriculture

The average age of farmers in Oregon is now over 59 years (see our infographic) and many family farms are facing a transition between generations, or to someone outside of the family. There are many important issues for farm families to consider when retiring from farming. “Can the current owners afford to retire?” “Do the children in the family want to keep farming?” “How do we transfer the farm’s assets?” These are just some of the important questions and issues that will be addressed. Read more

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

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