4th Annual Small Farm School Recap

Author: Heidi Noordijk, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Fall 2015

Eager learners, knowledgeable instructors, patient livestock and sunny skies were the key ingredients to a successful day for small farmers in Clackamas County.

The 4th Annual Small Farm School had a record setting attendance of over 250 participants.

Commercial farmers, small acreage landowners, students and agricultural professionals came together on Saturday, September 12 to build on their farm skills and knowledge. Workshops took place at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City and also at the Clackamas County Event Center in Canby. This day celebrated the tremendous innovation happening on small farms in the region and the diversity of small farms, as well as the burgeoning interest in local sustainably produced food. Small Farm School is presented by OSU Extension in partnership with the Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District and Clackamas Community College

There were 27 field and classroom workshops offered over four concurrent sessions. Extension faculty, community college instructors, conservation specialists, farmers, authors and other agricultural professionals led workshops. Morning classes on sheep basic care, on-farm veterinary care, horse health, and tractor safety and operation were held at the Clackamas Event Center.

There was much more room for the animals and tractors at this location.

Clairmont Hall and the surrounding area of Clackamas Community College was the main site for the program. The area was all abuzz with classes on beekeeping, farming with native beneficial insects and vegetable insect management. The most popular workshops were beginning farmer classes on Starting your whole farm plan and Assessing your farm resources along with workshops on soil, irrigation management, rotational grazing and pasture management. Participants found the workshops “informative and full of practical information”. One of the goals of Small Farm School is to send people away with new ideas to implement on their farms. An attendee from Amy Garret’s Dryland Vegetable Farming Class commented said, “It will be interesting to experiment with my soil and see if I can get some crops thriving with dry farming.”

Exhibitors were available to show their wares and offer services to farmers. During the lunch break there were 8 Ask an Expert tables to allow one-on-one discussions on farm financing, water rights, organic certification, farm real estate, conservation practices, CSA information and beekeeping. Lunch focused on locally sourced produce and allowed time for further discussions. 

A special thanks to Clackamas Community College and Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District and other community partners for putting together a successful program. Thanks also to conference sponsors: Coastal Farm and Ranch, OBC Northwest, Organically Grown Company and Portland Nursery. Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 20, 2016 and join the Small Farm School fun next year.