Category Archives: News

Managing invasive tansy ragwort weeds

Tansy weed (Senecio jacobaea) in bloom with cinnabar moth caterpillars feeding on it

It seems like tansy is everywhere this year, but its predators are not far behind…

Tansy is a dangerous pasture weed because it is poisonous to livestock, causing liver damage when ingested.

What to do if you have tansy on your property

We don’t recommend mowing, which can extend the life of the plant beyond its normal two years and increase the chance that it could get into hay. Some plants are beginning to seed now, so mowing now is more likely to spread infestations further.

Your best bet for removal is pulling or digging. Unfortunately, the ideal time to pull the plants was between May and June, after they bolted but before they flowered. At this point, it may be better to wait until next year to remove them. If you need to pull it this year, you’ll want to bag it and dispose of it in the trash so the seeds don’t spread. When left alone, the seeds disperse by wind, but they only travel an average of 10 feet from the plant, so letting it go to seed in place will not cause rapid spread.

Tansy predators making a comeback
Tansy has two main biological controls (“biological controls” in this context means natural predators that help control invasive plant or other pest populations) that feed on it when it starts to spread: the cinnabar moth and the flea beetle. Cinnabar moth caterpillars have been spotted around the district (see photos) this summer. Although less visible, it’s really the flea beetles that do most of the work, attacking the root crown, leaves, and leaf stalks during the rainy season. We will be looking for the small, golden flea beetles come October.


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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

A new partnership with the Multnomah Grange

On Friday, April 14, 2017, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWCD) and the Multnomah Grange signed a 20-year Memorandum of Agreement for the use and improvement of the Grange facility, located in rural east Gresham. Under the agreement, EMSWCD will help bring some needed improvements to the facility, which will then be used by EMSWCD for public meetings and events geared towards helping community members improve soil and water conditions on their properties. Jay Udelhoven, EMSWCD Executive Director, said of the agreement, “What a great marriage of need and opportunity! We’re in need of a reliable meeting location and the Grange has an opportunity to meet those needs by making some minor improvements to their facility.”


The Multnomah Grange, a local affiliate of the Oregon State Grange, serves as a social center for the local community. The Grange is used by the general public for occasions such as bluegrass music shows, community sales, and art fairs, among other uses. For more information, see the Multnomah Grange Facebook page.

Our 2017 Native Plant Sale was a success!

Golden currant (Ribes aureum), one of the many plants available in our 2017 Native Plant Sale

Our annual Native Plant Sale store wrapped up last Saturday, February 18th as everybody picked up their plants. Thank you for supporting our plant sale! Roughly 11,000 native plants have been distributed to new homes in and around the District, which will help restore native habitat, lower outdoor water usage and support beneficial wildlife.

If you did not receive certain plants or have questions about your order, please contact Alex Woolery. We will process refunds for purchased plants that were not fulfilled due to stock shortages. If you did not pick up your order, we will issue a refund to you, minus a restocking fee (see full details here).

From our farmers: Where do all the veggies go?

Brindley and Spencer of Tanager Farm selling their CSA shares at a neighborhood market

This is a farmer-contributed post in our “From our farmers” series, written by Brindley Beckwith and Spencer Suffling of Tanager Farm, both enrolled in our Farm Incubator Program. In this piece, Brindley and Spencer explore options for produce outlets and find a good option in a community venue!

As we were gearing up for our first season with our very own farm and purchasing all the seeds we wanted to grow, we stopped many times and said out loud, “but where will all the veggies go?!” This was both fun and frightening to think about. When you begin the journey of starting your own market farm, you have to think about the various outlets for selling vegetables. Did we want to be a CSA Farm (Community Supported Agriculture)? Or sell to local restaurants? Maybe do wholesale or farmers markets? There are many options, and all are very unique. We knew it was important to understand what the need was, but we also wanted to consider what we would enjoy. So why not try them all?

This is not always the best approach, but we felt that with the support of the Headwaters Incubator Program we were able to start slow (and with limited start-up costs) while getting a feel for the diversity of the Portland Area markets. We learned along the way about where the need was and what we loved to do! Read more

Join our email list!

bee visits Douglas aster flowers

Want to keep up with the latest events, workshops and news from EMSWCD? Join our email list! It’s a great way to get updates and announcement about annual events such as our native plant sale and yard tour, as well as our free workshops for urban and rural residents. You can also learn about our grant offerings, our land conservation program, and volunteer opportunities!

Subscribe here!

Our 2015-16 Annual Report

Find out about the work the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District does! Our 2015-16 Annual Report is now available. You may also download a condensed version of the report in this Annual Brief. The Annual Report covers the work done during our most recent fiscal year; each fiscal year begins on July 1st and ends on June 31st of the next calendar year.

The mission of the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District is to help people care for land and water. Our vision is that our lands and waters are healthy and sustain farms, forests, wildlife and communities. You can also learn more about EMSWCD and the work we do in the District in the About EMSWCD section. Contact us at (503) 222-7645 or info@emswcd.org to find out how we can help you care for land and water.

Building beetle banks

Illustration of a beetle bank along row crops. Beetle not to scale!

Fight off pests and reduce the need for insecticides with one simple feature! Beetle banks are berms (an area of raised earth) planted with bunch grasses to provide habitat for predatory ground beetles. Beetle banks reduce pest pressure and the need for insecticides, while also helping suppress crop weeds!

Read on for easy instructions on how to build a beetle bank, or join us and our partners at the 2016 Farwest Show (Thursday, August 25th through Saturday the 27th) for a great informational display, complete with a beetle bank model! Read more

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