This is a farmer-contributed post in our “From our farmers” series, and was contributed by Quinn Richards of Farm Punk Salads, one of the farmers enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program.
Starting a farm these days is much different that perhaps it used to be. With a competitive marketplace in the Portland Metro area for small scale farming, we at Farm Punk Salads see a couple of things as key to developing a farm. We see identifying and cultivating a niche market, getting specific about the crops we grow, cultivating financial literacy, and building a personality within our brand to make our farm memorable as our main ways to building our business.
We wanted to make a farm that got people excited about eating salad, for it was our experience falling in love with salad that inspired us to focus on salad. Salad has all the things that we love so much. It’s raw and fresh, its quick and easy to make, it is what we are passionate about growing, and pretty much any diet supports eating lots of salad. It felt like the universal thing there was a need for in Portland and something that we could pair with a value-added product to give consumers a whole package. It was because of this that we chose to start a salad specific farm and produce a line of salad dressings.
Before we started our farm, we spent a lot of time thinking about what we might want to grow and how we think we might sell the vegetables. To grow crops is one thing and to sell them is often another. It was in the distance between these two points that we saw was a hang-up point for many small farms. After our time working on another Portland CSA-based farm, we took it as an opportunity to collect feedback from folks. What did they like about their CSA? What would they like to see improved? One of most common things we heard was “But what do I do with it?” or “I just don’t have enough time to cook all of these things.” We saw salad as an opportunity to create a product for people that would be quick and convenient but still support local food. “Let’s be a one-stop-salad-shop,” we thought. Let’s create a CSA that has all the needed ingredients to make a meal without a trip to the store. Read more
We have brand new content in our Land Conservation section! See our Working Farmland Protection page to learn how we’re helping ensure farmland remains available for current and future generations of farmers. The section now includes information on landowner options, program participation benefits, information on working farmland easements and much more.
The East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District announces its 2019 Partners in Conservation (PIC) grants totaling $622,362 awarded to 20 conservation and environmental education projects in the EMSWCD service area (all of Multnomah County east of the Willamette River). PIC funding for 2019 will also leverage more than $3 million in additional support through matching in-kind and cash contributions!
EMSWCD received 29 PIC applications this year, representing projects in each of its five primary grant program areas: restoration and monitoring, stormwater management and naturescaping, urban gardening and sustainable agriculture, environmental education, and equitable access to conservation benefits. To ensure a thorough and fair evaluation of the applications, the grant review committee included an EMSWCD Board Director and others from a diverse range of backgrounds and expertise, including members of the community and staff from non-profits and public agencies.
The EMSWCD Board of Directors awarded 20 grants, including support for three two-year projects. A wide variety of projects were funded this year, including a $50,000 two-year grant to Outgrowing Hunger, an organization focused on nurturing connection to nature, food and community among immigrant and refugee populations. Outgrowing Hunger currently operates 12 community garden sites in East Multnomah County, provides supplies and tools, and offers culturally relevant and language specific garden workshops and education to its gardeners. Funding will provide access to sustainable, watershed-friendly urban agriculture and gardening, provide education and technical support, and build a new community garden. Read more
An important update for anybody applying or considering applying for a SPACE Grant: EMSWCD has just changed the monthly deadline for SPACE (Small Projects and Community Events) applications. Starting now, any applications received by the 1st of the month will be reviewed and a decision made by the following month. The 2019-2020 SPACE Application is now open in ZoomGrants.
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.
East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) is pleased to announce that the working farmland protection component of its Land Legacy Program has closed on the acquisition of its first-ever working farmland easement. This month, EMSWCD secured the permanent protection of a 57-acre farm property in the Gresham area.
The acquisition of the easement occurred in conjunction with the sale of the property, which EMSWCD had owned since 2011. EMSWCD acquired the property when it was listed for sale and at risk of no longer being available for productive use by the local farming community. Proceeds from the sale will be used by EMSWCD to protect additional working farm properties.
A working farmland easement is a legally binding blueprint for the future of the property which ensures it will remain in active and highly productive agricultural use. The recently released U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture underscores the need for these working farmland protection efforts, with Multnomah County losing an average of 2.5 acres of farmland a day during the period from 2012 to 2017.
- About 14 acres of the property is comprised of forest, steep slopes and streams which drain to the Sandy River
The easement for this property also seeks to address the growing challenges of farmland access and affordability. Farmland affordability is a challenge in Multnomah County, with the Census of Agriculture finding a 75% increase in the value of farmland and buildings from 2012 – 2017 and the second highest average farmland/farm building values of any county in Oregon. The easement incorporates provisions that ensure the property will remain in the ownership of a farmer and limits residential infrastructure that could make the property unaffordable for agricultural operators. As part of the transaction, EMSWCD also secured an option to acquire a working farmland easement on another 20-acre property owned by the buyers. Read more