InFARMation and Young Farmers

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Are you interested in being a young farmer? Are you an experienced farmer and interested in passing along your knowledge? Are you interested in ensuring that small farms continue to grow and provide quality, local food?  If you answered yes to any of the 3 questions, read on.

Greenhouse from Southern Willamette Farm Corps Facebook page helping young farmers get startedThis month I’ve had the wonderful pleasure to attend two InFARMation events by Friends of Family Farmers, which are monthly get-togethers in Portland and now Eugene, focused on the youth movement in small-scale farming. Just so you know the Portland events are InFARMation (and beer) and the Eugene events are InFARMation (and pizza) but they have beer too!

There are like a billion links on the bottom of this article. So grab a drink and check them out. Please Like their Facebook pages and send them a nice note if you see something cool. Donate, volunteer and sign up for the Friends of Family Farmers newsletter while you’re at it.

Training the Next Generation of Farmers

The first ever Eugene event, “Training the Next Generation of Farmers” was November 3rd at Cosmic Pizza (try the Willamette Garlic Focaccia).

Three great panelists spoke about young farmers and what is going on.

  • Katy Giombolini is the Outreach and Education Coordinator of the Berggren Demonstration Farm and the Program Coordinator for the new Southern Willamette Farm Corps (SWFC). The SWFC is a group of farmers and farm advocates working with Rogue Farm Corp (RFC) to create a beginning farmer internship program modeled after RFC’s FarmsNext Program.
  • John Karlic is our friend from Sweetwater Farm and started the Good Food Easy CSA, the Urban Farm at the University of Oregon and helped create Oregon Tilth. While John recently retired, he is passionate about training the next generation of farmers. You can find our post on our visit to the farm under Field Notes.
  • Maggie Matoba is a certified Horticultural Therapist, Founder of Healing Harvest, Inc. a local non-profit. Maggie is also an instructor at LCC for the Horticulture Certificate Program and works tirelessly to incorporate sustainable agriculture education in local schools.

The Eugene InFARMation (and pizza) meets the first Sunday of the Month from Nov-Apri at Cosmic Pizza. Starts at 4 PM!

Training the Next Generation of Oregon Farmers

Not to be outdone, the Portland event added “Oregon” to their event. I guess since it’s been going on longer or they wanted to exclude anyone from crossing the Columbia river? It was November 12th, and held at Holocene (try the Popcorn w/ Calabrian chili olive oil, black pepper, fennel + sea salt).

Five great panelists were there and it was all about young farmers again.

  • Stu O’Neill is the Executive Director of Rogue Farm Corps (RFC). Their FarmsNext curriculum consists of field-based training and on-farm work experience, practical skills classes, farm tours, discussion circles, independent study, and potlucks (my fav).
  • Stu brought along Megan Fehrman who is the Education Director for what is going on at the RFC. Megan has a great curriculum and students now have the option to enroll in Rogue Community College’s Professional Skills Training course and receive college credits for the FarmsNext program.  I got the feeling Megan does a lot of work!
  • Rowan Steele is the Farm Incubator Manager at the Headwaters Farm, a 60-acre property located in Orient, Oregon that is owned and managed by the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District (EMSWDC). The Headwaters Incubation Program (HIP) is a launching pad for farm businesses. How cool! Rowan also assists his wife, Katie Coppoletta, in their Corbett, Oregon based operation, Fiddlehead Farm (a beautiful farm, check out their website).
  • Farmer Rick Reddaway of Abundant Fields Farm is one of the current operations of HIP. He just kind of decided to start a farm in 2012 and enrolled in HIP in 2013. Rick is just finishing up a killer hoophouse, BTW.
  • Dan Bravin is Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability Food Program Coordinator and the lead instructor for their new Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship program (BUFA).  This is a 7-month program on intensive vegetable production in urban and community settings. This series is based on OSU’s established Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management Seminar series.

The Portland InFARMation (and beer) meets the second  Tuesday of the Month at Holocene. Doors open at 5:30 PM and presentations start at  6:30 PM!

We also got to run into some of our friends and make a couple of new ones. We saw Narendra Varma from Our Table Cooperative (2 great articles and a video in our Field Notes) and I met Naomi from Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply which is on my list for my next trip to Portland.  If for no other reason, check out their website for some of the cutest goats in town.

Important stuff…..

Many of these young farmer programs are accepting applications right now so check them out if you have an interest.

The success of the younger farmer relies heavily on the knowledge the experienced farmer can pass along (notice how I have avoided the word “old”?).  If you have that experience and would like to share it, reach out to these folks and let them know.

I understand there are plans to take the Rogue Farm Corp (RFC) internship model to Portland and Bend as well.

Most importantly if you value local sustainable food, get involved.


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