James, Polly and Juvencio with Tillie
There is nothing I like more than going on a road trip to new market farms and visiting with market growers. This week I tackled a 200 mile trip and boy was it worth it. I went up to visit James Just and Polly Gottesman at Pumpkin Ridge Gardens in North Plains, Oregon. James, Polly, and family have 25 acres in the rolling foothills of the Oregon Coast range. James mentioned that they farm about 5 acres and are at about a 400 foot elevation. A change for me, used to seeing mostly farms in the Willamette Valley, and at Pumpkin Ridge there wasn’t much flat land around.
They have been practicing organic growing since 1987 and have been running a year-round subscription (CSA) style farm since 1990. From 1990 to 2002 they were certified organic through the state. When certification requirements changed to 3rd party, they elected not to participate in order to keep from having to pass those costs along to their customers. They sum that decision up with this quote:
Our philosophy is that the best way for you, the consumer, to feel good about how your food is grown is to know your farmer.
They had invited a fellow farmer, Juvencio, over to see Tillie in action as well. Juvencio Argueta is from La Finquita del Buho,”The Little Farm of the Owl” and farms with his wife, Lyn Jacobs. I didn’t get to see La Finquita del Buho but I can imaging judging from Juvencio’s passion, it probably is a pretty sweet market farm. They farm about 2 acres in Helvetia and they run a 90 person CSA. You should definitely check out their website and blog, great recipes abound.
Everyone had a great time using Tillie in a number of ways. We weeded along the drip lines of the hoop houses, cultivated down rows and did some furrowing and hilling. It was quickly evident to everyone that the tool has more than enough power which is always a concern about battery powered tools. It was also nice that while someone was using it, we all could stand around and talk without the noise distraction a gas tiller would have made. I did point out that it cost about 15 cents to recharge a battery.
I was getting a little worried as I had another farm to visit and everyone just kept using the tool. I hadn’t brought a second battery with me but even with an hour of use, I still had plenty of juice left for my next visit.
You can find Pumpkin Ridge Gardens at the Beaverton Farmers Market starting in May. One more thing, both farms are worried about urban sprawl so please check out Save Helvetia while you’re browsing.