Category Archives: Headwaters News

2017 Agricultural Census Demonstrates Need for EMSWCD’s Working Farmland Initiatives

rows of vegetables at Headwaters Farm, and a row of greenhouses in the background

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final 2017 Census of Agriculture figures in mid-April; statistics for all of Multnomah County are available here. The census findings highlight the importance of EMSWCD’s working farmland protection efforts, as Multnomah County lost 15% of its farmland from 2012 to 2017 – or about 2.5 acres a day.

Farmers in Multnomah County are on average 2 years younger than their peers across Oregon and the US, which is reinforced by our Headwaters Incubator Program for new and beginning farmers. And with the average per-acre value of agricultural land and buildings increasing 75% in Multnomah County to the second highest of any county in Oregon, the importance of our work to improve access to affordable farmland is greater than ever.

From our farmers: Mora Mora’s first year

Mora Mora farm stand

This is a farmer-contributed post in our “From our farmers” series, written by Catherine Nguyen of Mora Mora Farm, who is enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.

Mora Mora Farm is a single-farmer, half-acre, diverse vegetable operation that just wrapped up its first season through the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program. Mora Mora grows produce to sell at one weekend farmers’ market and for a handful of friends in the city. When people find out that it’s just me running the farm, doing everything from seeding and harvest to bed preparation and marketing, the normal response is, “Wait. You’re doing this all on your own?!”

The decision to begin as a single-farmer operation simply stemmed from my own personality. I like being able to see the whole picture: production and sales, starting up my farm and setting up systems to maintain it, figuring out where operational weak points are, and how I can optimize the system as a whole. I knew if I ever wanted to have ownership of a farm and manage people well, I’d better know what the heck I was doing and why.

Of course, being a single-farmer operation comes with its challenges: Read more

Now accepting applications for the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program!

Headwaters Farm fields

We are now accepting applications for the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program 2019 growing season! The Incubator Program leases farmland, equipment and other resources to individuals seeking to establish a farm business. We encourage all interested individuals to apply!

Visit the Incubator Application page for information about the program and instructions on how to apply! You can also contact Rowan Steele, our Headwaters Farm Program Manager, at rowan@emswcd.org or (503) 939-0314. All application materials are due by Wednesday, October 31st, 2018.

From our farmers: Making the jump

Amica Farm - rolling up tarp

This is a farmer-contributed post in our “From our farmers” series, written by Nicki Passarella and Irina Schabram of Amica Farm, both enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.

Amica Farm is the product of two female friends who forged a bond through hard work, sweat equity and a deep love of agriculture and community. We work with one-half acre of land, growing an extensive array of annual vegetables, herbs and strawberries to sell directly to our community at two weekly farmers markets.

As first year farm business owners, having the opportunity to utilize the Headwaters Farm Incubator Program (HIP) has already proven invaluable in our first months of participation. The obvious places of gratitude to start with include land, water, propagation space, and the ability to share orders to get bulk pricing and keep shipping low. There are also scheduled learning sessions with industry professionals about farm financials, record keeping and more. A less tangible benefit is the community with other farmers at Headwaters and the direct support from EMSWCD staff we are experiencing. Read more

The Launching of a New Farm

Headwaters Incubator Program’s first graduates, Pete and Claire, enjoying the first season on their new plot of land in Canby, Oregon

Udan Farm, Headwaters Incubator Program’s first graduate

Pete and Claire St. Tulnoynum came to the Headwaters Incubator Program (HIP) in 2015 with a couple of seasons of farming under their belt, some produce management experience, and a good understanding of what makes for healthy soil. Using the Lloyd and Woodlawn Farmers Markets as their primary retail outlets, they were able to establish Udan Farm and transition their business onto leased farmland in just two years.

Participants in HIP are given up to five years to launch their business, but Udan Farm’s experience is essentially how the program is designed to work: a farm enters the program and works to refine production practices, establish markets, build farm networks, make investments, and then leaves for their own site (either leased or owned) to continue growing the operation. Or, as Pete explains, “Headwaters Incubator Program was extremely good for us. We got to experience what it was like to work together as a couple, we gleaned ideas from other farmers, and we were able to get the business running.” Read more

From our farmers: New ways of thinking about farmland transfers

This is a farmer-contributed post in our “From our farmers” series, written by Emily Cooper of Full Cellar Farm, who is enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program. In this piece, Emily explores three different ways farmland can be passed from one owner to the next.

As I finish up my third year at Headwaters, I have naturally started thinking about what comes next. Although my husband’s off-farm job makes it possible for us to get a conventional mortgage, the cost of land in the Willamette Valley is generally much higher than any loan (and resulting mortgage payments) we could afford. Leasing land, while attractive for financial reasons, frequently comes with strings attached, and presents the possibility of friction with a landowner-landlord who doesn’t fully understand what it means to share their property with a working farm.

For those reasons, I have felt a little bit stymied by the options open to me. Earlier this month, though, I had the chance to attend a session on non-traditional ways to secure land tenure at the Women in Sustainable Agriculture Conference. After the skillful presentation of Carrie Scrufari of Vermont Law School, I left with my head full of possibilities, questions, and a little more hope for the future of my farm. Read more

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