Welcome to EMSWCD’s Nature Notes series! Nature Notes shares small moments and interesting observations from our property, as well as related natural history tidbits, on a weekly to monthly basis.
December 2ndth, 2019
Leave the leaves!
As 2019 draws to a close, you can help birds and pollinators (and save yourself some yardwork!) with some simple actions.
- Leaf cover provides valuable cover for beneficial insects and is also healthy for the soil
In your yard:
Leave the leaves — and everything else! Beneficial insects (those that eat garden pests, pollinate flowers and vegetables, and feed birds) need shelter through the winter just like people do. They hide in the soil under leaf litter, between layers of bark and wood, in rock piles. Many pollinators also spend the winter in hollow standing stalks of woody shrubs. Birds depend on these insects for food through the winter and into the spring. Help them survive by leaving your garden natural this winter!
- A variety of mason bee shelters
On your balcony, porch, or window:
Many people help winter birds with feeders, but did you know you can also ensure a good crop of wild fruit and seeds next season by raising mason bees? These efficient early spring pollinators are safe and easy to raise, and their shelters take up no more space than a bird house. This is the time of year to start — call your local nurseries and farm supply stores to see if they have mason bee cocoons and nest supplies in stock.
EMSWCD has put a farm property currently in its ownership up for sale. The listing for the property can be found here. All interested parties should direct inquiries to EMSWCD’s broker, Chris Kelly of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices NW Real Estate at (503) 666-4616.
EMSWCD acquired the property in 2018, when it was listed for sale. At the time EMSWCD was concerned that a sale could result in the local farming community losing access to one of the more productive farms within our District. To help prevent this outcome, EMSWCD and the farmer/owner entered into a partnership whereby EMSWCD purchased the property to ensure it would remain forever available for agriculture. At the same time, the farmer also granted EMSWCD an option to permanently protect other property in their ownership. Read more
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
Our fall season of workshops is here! We offer free and practical how-to workshops at a variety of locations in collaboration with our community partners. Discover simple gardening practices that will help you create a beautiful landscape that conserves water, reduces pollution and attracts beneficial wildlife to your yard.
Our workshops cover all kinds of topics, including planting with native plants, natural landscaping techniques that reduce pollution and water use, supporting beneficial insects and pollinators, creating an edible landscape, and putting rainwater to use with a rain garden!
View the workshop schedule and register here
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