International Visitors at Headwaters Farm

Headwaters Farm is a dynamic space! Besides leasing land and helping new farm businesses get established, it also serves as a demonstration site for conservation agriculture practices — utilizing modern agricultural technologies to improve production, while also protecting and enhancing the resources that production depends on.

On June 11th, that exposure went global when ten agricultural professionals from Tajikistan visited to learn about the Headwaters Incubator Program, and about how EMSWCD manages farmland. This delegation was part of the International Visitor Program at the World Affairs Council of Oregon, and included directors of agricultural districts, senior agronomists, hydrologists, and other high ranking agricultural specialists.

The tour started off understandably slow, with lots of information being shared, and the deliberate exchanges that are typical of translation. However, once the visitors met some of our farmers, the discussion picked up and the visitors’ enthusiasm was apparent. One practice they found intriguing was the use of drip irrigation, and they had several questions. Headwaters farmer Rick Reddaway, of Abundant Fields Farm, was there to answers these questions and provide a background of what brought him to farming, and what he hoped to get out of the incubator program.

The highlight of the tour came when the delegation met with incubator participants Tatyana and Petr Puzur, of Happy Moment Farm, who are of Russian decent but spent several years living in Tajikistan. There was an immediate camaraderie, and as the tour milled around Tatyana and Petr’s farm plot looking at squash and season extension practices, there were direct, excited exchanges through an amalgamation of Tajik, Russian, and English—a heartwarming moment!

At the conclusion of the tour, Tatyana and Petr met the group again at the bus, bringing refreshments and sharing more of their experiences with the visiting delegation. The fact that two immigrant farmers could immediately connect with high ranking agricultural professionals is a testament to the unifying nature of farming, and the ability of agriculture to promote the exchange of information and ideas. It is this last point, in particular, that Headwaters Farm seeks to capitalize on through the continued demonstration of conservation agriculture practices, and the myriad of benefits that come from a healthy local farm industry and responsible land stewardship.