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 →
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).
Volunteers working together to remove pavement!
Children at an outdoor garden class as part of the Cully Young Farmers Project
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 →
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:
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.
It takes a lot to get a farm business off the ground. Growing skills need to be honed to specific microclimates, markets must be explored and established, and there are business and legal structures to develop, budgets to put together, and weed and pest management strategies to define, to name just a few essentials. However, much of this can’t happen without sufficient capital to make the initial investments in land, equipment, and farm infrastructure.
Our goal with the Headwaters Incubator Program is to identify individuals with farm experience, but who lack the capital necessary to launch their own farm business. To do this, the District makes available tools, equipment, and infrastructure essential to successfully producing in the Pacific Northwest. In fact, these items are so critical that the majority of staff time and budget for Headwaters Incubator Program’s inaugural season was committed to developing these basic assets, including a barn, greenhouse, irrigation system, wash station, and walk in cooler. Read more →
We are accepting applications for the 2014 Farm Incubator Program until 5pm November 1st! All interested applicants, please turn in your application materials by that time, and visit the Incubator Application section of our site if you have any questions about the program, how to apply, or about Headwaters Farm. You can also contact Rowan Steele, our Farm Incubator Manager, through our contact form.
One of our favorite times in the EMSWCD Grants office are the days that final reports come in. As much as we’d like to visit every project we fund, the day to day responsibilities of running our grants program keep us in the office most of the time. That is why we are so thrilled to read your project completion reports after your project is over–it is the next best thing to being there, seeing the impact your project had on a habitat, stream, or a child’s education in conservation. Final reports also help us understand if your project was a success–did you meet your stated objectives? If not, why? What can other organizations learn from your successes or challenges?
Today, we received a SPACE Grant final report from the Sauvie Island Center. Our board approved a $1500 SPACE grant in March to help fund 25 students from the Peninsula Community Center to attend a week of Farm Camp. They are excited to report that 26 kids from North Portland neighborhoods spent the week learning about wildlife and the food web, the role pollinators play in our food supply, and harvesting vegetables to cook and eat for lunch.
While Sauvie Island isn’t within our District’s Boundaries, it is the closest farmland to North Portland. The Sauvie Island Center is committed to increasing food, farm and environmental literacy in the community by providing hands-on educational field trips for elementary school children. Often, it is the first opportunity children have to visit a real, working farm so close to the city where they live. Take a look at their video to see more about what they do.
As a farmer, it’s extremely satisfying to see a healthy, robust stand of cover crop germinating. Cover crops can provide a myriad of benefits, including soil retention, transferring atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, suppressing weeds, adding organic matter, reducing compaction, and improving soil depth—saving a farmer time and money in the long run. There are many types of cover crops, and proper selection depends on soil necessities, season, budget, equipment available, weed pressure, climate, and other factors. Given the dynamic problem-solving nature of cover crops, it should come as no surprise that they are a key piece of our conservation agriculture program at Headwaters Farm.
On August 15, 2013, the first scoop of a 1930s era dam was removed from the Sandy River Delta, representing a decade of planning to restore the original flow into the Columbia. EMSWCD grants staff attended the ceremony sponsored by the Bonneville Power Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers to witness the first step of many in this complex restoration project. Sandy River Basin Watershed Council, another partner involved in Delta’s restoration, will begin a multi-year restoration of the Toucan Wing of the Delta with funding from EMSWCD’s Partners in Conservation grant program. Read more about it at in The Gresham Outlook.