On April 21, the day before Earth Day, Friends of Family Farmers and our partners Cultivate Oregon came together to celebrate farmers who prioritize soil health through the Living Soil Awards. We were so humbled and honored that 27 farmers from across the state who are growing living soils, took the time to fill out our nomination form to share their dedication to treating soil as a living member of their farm system. We are filled with hope for the future hearing the incredible stories of the soil stewards who are doing this great work across Oregon.
The Living Soil Awards is a pilot program born from the idea that small and mid-sized farmers deserve recognition for their practices.
The Living Soil Award Selection Committee consisted of four agricultural professionals (two from FoFF and two from CO), three of whom are actively farming, and 25% of whom are BIPOC identified folks. Our rubric for finalist selection was created with input from the Cultivate Oregon Steering Committee which includes career soil scientists, active agricultural producers, and soil advocates from Southern Oregon.
Our selection process for this pilot program was twofold. 1. We blind-reviewed the completed nomination forms and assigned points based on the breadth of soil health practices indicated on the nomination form, the quality and cohesion of the farming philosophy as described by the farmer. There were additional points awarded in this stage for BIPOC and women-owned farms in order to address systemic barriers to farming knowledge, land, and capital. Once we identified the top-scoring farms in each category we scheduled site visits to see their practices in action and we made the final decisions based on:
- the level of implementation of the practices listed on the application
- are they scale appropriate,
- are they fully implemented or in the beginning stages,
- do they have demonstrable improvements in soil year over year,
- And fundamentally, do they integrate soil health into the farm system
- was it a side project, or part of all decision making.
The committee then voted on the finalists in each of the four categories to determine the winners.
We fully acknowledge the limitations and drawbacks of the choices we made while creating the rubric and setting up the selection committee. In this pilot year of the program, we did not invite outside producers to sit on the selection committee so as not to make them ineligible for the award. In the future, we are interested in recruiting a diverse group of experts to review the applications. Please fill out the form in the Community Feedback section of this post, or contact the OPN team (email@example.com) to provide feedback directly, or to volunteer for the 2022 Living Soil Award Selection Committee.
Finalists and Winners
Our Living Soil Awards finalists were chosen through the blind review process, then all the finalists received a site visit so we could make the final decisions. You can watch the recording of the award ceremony here to learn more about our winners and finalists or follow the links below to their websites. There were two finalists chosen in each category, except for the Small Farm – Mostly Vegetable category where 4 finalists were chosen. This was because we received double the number of nominations in that category than any other and wanted to reflect that breadth of entries. Finalists in these categories are displayed alphabetically (as they were in the ceremony) and the winning farm is underlined.
Large Farm – Mostly Vegetables
Small Farm – Mostly Vegetables
- Blue Raven Farm – Learn More
- Boundless Farmstead – Learn More
- Good Rain Farm – Learn More
- Sakari Farms – Learn More
Large Farm – Mostly Livestock
Small Farm – Mostly Livestock
We are so grateful to our community for continuing to hold us accountable to our anti-racist goals. The Living Soil Awards was an idea forged to highlight the practices of fellow farmers, but in the process, we acknowledge that we also highlighted the injustice and appropriation that is present in Oregon’s agricultural history, the history of this country, and in the modern regenerative agriculture movement. This is a pilot program and is designed to be improved and changed for future years. We welcome critical feedback to refine the program for the future in ways that are more true to the lineage of these practices. All members of the community are invited to provide feedback on this program and the role of white-led organizations in this conversation. Please fill out our survey here or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Living Soil Awards are a tool to create community among farmers who believe that soil is the basis for all we do in agriculture. We plan to create a platform for all our finalists, winners, and nominees to tell their stories, explain their journey, and share their practices. We want to do this through a combination of storytelling, peer-to-peer learning circles for other farmers, and public education panels for folks to ask questions and get to know these exemplary farmers and their work. We see them as “HERO”s- Holistic Ecological Regenerative Operators. This is the busiest time of year for our farmers and we want to work around their needs, so stay tuned for updates on future program offerings later in the summer and fall.
We will continue to gather public feedback to improve the Living Soil Awards program and make sure we are honoring both the roots of these soil health practices and the many styles of knowledge that continue to show us what true sustainability looks like. We will be reforming the planning committee in the Fall to take action on the feedback we receive and build the Living Soil Award program, in whatever form is appropriate, for next year.
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