January 14th: Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Organic Farm spoke on how to eat local and seasonally during an Oregon winter. He also discussed the barriers farmers in our climate face with getting winter product to the consumer, and passed around samples of what was fresh from his garden in mid-January. Attendance was stellar, and both the amount of the people and the noise of the brewpub were factors contributing to the location move from Hopworks Urban Brewery to Roots’ Organic Brewery’s Event Space for future events.
February 10th: Sarah Brown of Diggin’ Roots CSA Farm and Megan Fehrman of Friends of Family Farmers discussed the barriers new and beginning Oregon farmers face when trying to become viable. The event space was filled with current and future farmers, many of whom contributed to the conversation by sharing their own stories. Megan discussed FoFF’s iFarm website database for the first time, and took questions from the audience.
March 10th: We showed the film GOOD FOOD, a documentary shot in the Northwest about sustainable farming and food options, and which has since come through town on the big screen. A good discussion among the attendees after the film sparked an interest in a farming social site, so familyfarmers.ning.com was born!
April 14th: Jon Bansen of Double J Jersey Dairy in Monmouth and of Organic Valley Farmer Co-op spoke of his personal experiences transitioning from a conventional dairy to an organic dairy, and becoming part of a farmer co-op. The audience loved his slide show of the farm and cows, and his explanations of how diverse his farm has become as a result of these changes. The audience also loved the special dairy treats created by Sasafrass Catering and donated by Organic Valley Co-op.
May 12: There was a big turnout to hear Val Blaha of Mossback Farms and Chrissie and Koorosh Zaerpoorof Kookoolan Farmsdiscuss their personal stories of becoming meat farmers in Oregon, and the trials and tribulations as they figured out what would make their farms viable while staying true to their philosophies and treating their animals humanely. They also talked about what avenues were available to consumers in Oregon who want to buy directly from the farmer, and what barriers Oregon farmers face when trying to get their meat to consumers. A good third of the large crowd appeared to be meat farmers, many driving several hours to attend. Farmers in attendance included: The Lee Family Farm – OK Ranch and Retreat in Bay City; Clare Clarver and Brian Marcy from Big Table Farm in Gaston; Joe Schueller of Rainshadow El Rancho in Scio; Chris Roehm from Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove; Brant and Emily fromHarmony JACK Farms in Scio; Bernard Smith and his Dad Mark from Full of Life Farm near Champoeg State Farm; Greg Schneider ofSylvan Skies Alpacas in Scio; and if there is anyone else I’ve forgotten, please email me!
June 9th: The concept of “clean” food has become an issue that eaters are thinking and talking about, due in part to recent food safety scares. It makes sense that what goes into the soil is what comes out into our food. Will Newman of OSALT discussed the concept of clean soil vs. dirty minerals from chemical fertilizers at InFARMation (and Beer!) on June 9th. He gave us a nutshell version of his two-day soil workshop and answered many questions about No-Till farming.
June 18th: We took InFARMation on the road to Ashland this month to talk about Local Meat, as this topic is huge across the state. A good turnout joined FoFF at the Stillwater Bar and Grill to hear from Ken and Susan of Rogue Valley Brambles, Suzanne Willow of of Willow Witt Ranch and Larry Martin of Martin Family Farm as they shared their personal stories of becoming meat and poultry farmers in Oregon, and the trials and tribulations as they figured out what would make their farms viable while staying true to their philosophies and treating their animals humanely. We discussed the avenues available to consumers in Oregon who want to buy directly from the farmer, and what barriers Oregon farmers face when trying to get their meat to consumers, much like our event in Portland in May.
July 14: Canby resident Scot Calloway explained his family’s personal experiences fighting encroaching chicken factory farms next door in his rural neighborhood, and got the crowd fired up about the dangers of large CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) and the threats facing family farms when big business moves in.
August 11: Urban and Rural Reserves…how it’s currently being decided what can stay farmland in the Metro area. Laura Masterson from 47th Ave Farm and Greg Malinowski from Malinowski Farm were on hand to tell their stories and explain the issues, and 1000 Friends of Oregon and Metro Councilman Rex Burkholder were there to answer questions and provide additional points of view.
September 8th: Author and food activist Jill Richardson was in town to discuss her new book Recipe for America: Why Our Food System is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix it. The book demonstrates how sustainable agriculture—where local farms raise food that is healthy for consumers and animals and does not damage the environment—offers the only solution to America’s food crisis. In addition to highlighting the harmful conditions at factory farms, this timely and necessary book details the rising grassroots food movement, which is creating an agricultural system that allows people to eat sustainably, locally, and seasonally. Jill Richardson blogs about food issues at Daily Kos and at her own blog, La Vida Locavore. She is also a member of the advisory board of the Organic Consumers Association.
October 13th: Eating local for Thanksgiving and planning ahead for winter…what does eating local in our state look like after the rains start and most of the farmers’ markets shut down for the season? The room was full of farmers and foodies who had tips and direct ways to help. Farmer Clare Carver from Big Table Farm in Gaston covered many topics including preserving and meat shares, Farmers Sid and Louann from Greenville Farm in Forest Grove discussed their new CSA model where members can preserve the harvest right there on the farm in a certified kitchen, the Hood River Organics CSA Co-op folks talked about a different way that they can help consumers eat local all winter, and Eamon Molloy from Hillsdale Farmer’s Market discussed several of the year-round and winter farmers markets. The Oregon City Farmers Market announced several “holiday” and late-season markets this year.
November 10th: Oregon Food Bank joined us to present the results of the Voices Project, a series of focus groups with emergency food clients, exploring the topics of hunger and poverty, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, local agriculture, gardening and community food security from the clients’ perspective. Farmer Michael Paine from Gaining Ground Farmand a former member of theMultnomah/Portland Food Policy Council was on hand to discuss how as a farmer he tries to include equity issues in his work. He was joined by Oregon Food Bank staff David Osborn and Tammy VanderWoude, a current member of the Food Policy Council, to discuss of food policy and equity. The evening focused on public policy relating to these issues as well more generally eliminating hunger and its root causes, and it made for a thought provoking discussion.
December 8th: After a year of InFARMation (and Beer!) events, we gave you a chance to get involved. FoFF invited many of the area’s small non-profits focused on creating a socially-responsible food system to come set up tables with information and volunteer opportunities in which YOU could sign up to participate. A few folks also spoke about the previous year’s InFARMations and how they had personally been affected. Leah spoke about the Friends of Family Farmers’ House Party that she had thrown the previous week that gave FoFF an opportunity to reach out to some of her friends and associates with information on iFarm and our other programs. Local band Fifth Gear finished the evening with some great live music. Thanks to everyone who helped make it a fun party to round out the year!