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- Small Farms, Local Food, and COVID-19
In 1980 Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade started Winter Green Farm just 20 miles west of Eugene, five years later Wali and Jabrila Via joined them and in 2009 long-time employees Chris Overbaugh and Shannon Shipp-Overbaugh also took joint ownership of the farm. The farm is certified organic and Salmon Safe by Oregon Tilth and also uses biodynamic methods. They strive to create a productive farm in harmony with the earth, and view the farm as a living organism and ecosystem.
They integrate beef with a wide array of vegetables, herbs, and fruit. They sell their farm products through a thriving Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business, at seven Portland and Eugene area farmer’s markets and through wholesale channels. Their own line of pesto and pesto base are also popular products. They include cover crops in their rotation and raise beef cows to maintain soil quality and supply nutrients for their crops while minimizing external inputs. They maintain about 145 acres in pasture and hay (some in permanent pastures and some as part of their rotation) and 25 acres of intensive crops. By combining crop and animal husbandry they manage a profitable whole farm system that closes nutrient loops as much as possible.
Compost is the link between their livestock and crops, Wali Via manages their composting activities and is highly regarded in the sustainable agriculture community for his composting expertise. “Composting is the backbone of our overall fertility program”, their other primary fertility inputs are agricultural limestone and dolomite. In recent years they have been experimenting with nutrient balancing and have brought in other mineral nutrients on certain fields.
They use a five year rotation. The first two years they grow vegetables followed by a fall seeded cover crop. In year three they grow vegetables then seed a pasture in the fall. The pasture is maintained during years four and five before returning to vegetables. The years the rotational fields are in vegetables the fields get about 10 cubic yards of compost per year. During the years in pasture intensively grazed cattle contribute their manure. As of 2013 they have shifted to a six year rotation adding an additional year in pasture. Permanent pasture fields receive approximately 5 cubic yards of compost every five years.
In a usual year they make between 400 and 600 cubic yards of finished compost. Wali makes compost mainly from materials from their farm: beef manure bedding and hay, grass and clover greenchop, finished compost or soil, and any accumulated old hay or balage. They also use some horse manure with wood chip bedding from a neighbor’s stable. Sometimes they use greenchop from on farm annual cover crops and occasionally import separated dairy solids or broiler litter from off-farm.
Their standard mix is about 40% beef manure bedding, 55% greenchop and 5% old compost. Additionally, they produce compost made from vegetable trimmings, soil from root washers, and greenchop, which is applied to their permanent pastures and hay fields.
Their piles are managed in long windrows. For a long time Wali loaded the compost feedstock into their rear discharge manure spreader which mixed the feedstock and built the windrows as the tractor crept forward.
About 5 years ago they bought a compost windrow turner which helps them keep up with National Organic Program standards to turn the pile frequently during the hot thermophylic phase. Wali noted that the windrow turner doesn’t blend wet and dry feedstock together as well as the manure spreader, and now finds it a bit more challenging to maintain consistent moisture throughout the pile during summer composting.
At Winter Green Farm they are very committed to protecting wetlands, riparian areas and water quality on and near their farm. They compost during the dry summer months which allows them to manage moisture content in the piles, and prevent leaching. They maintain wide grass filter strips between their windrows. If any leachate is generated these strips protect water quality by preventing runoff and improving water and nutrient infiltration and uptake.
During the winter they cover their windrows with plastic to prevent storm water from creating large volumes of leachate that could overwhelm their filter strips. Their composting site is in a level field of Nehalem silt loam soil. The site is about 200- 300 yards north of the Long Tom River and 300- 400 yards south of a wetland. Wells in the area are 70-350’ deep. They maintain thick permanent grass around the composting site.
Because they compost more than 100 tons of feedstock each year they were required to apply for a compost registration permit with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). No concerns were raised during the risk screening and inspection process. But they had to apply for a Land-Use Compatibility Statement and go through the application and inspection process. During their visit the DEQ inspector thought Winter Green Farm was doing a great job protecting water quality.
In this free introduction course, you will learn what exactly is "urban agriculture," along with essential definitions and concepts to help you get started on this exciting journey!
Throughout this intro course, you will explore some of the scholarly literature in the field of urban agriculture and investigate and record the basic requirements of your single chosen crop.
By the end, you will have a good understanding of urban agriculture and will know if you would like to continue in the series.
This course is part of ourOnline Urban Agriculture Program. Other courses in the series include:
You can take this course by ...Read full story.
This 3-video presentation revisits a live workshop by Susan Schoenian. Learn about SIPM-Sustainable Integrated Parasite Management in Goats and Sheep. Speaker: Susan Schoenian, Sheep and Goat Specialist at the University of Maryland's Western Maryland Research & Education Center. She represents the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control.
Gastrointestinal parasites of sheep and goats are becoming increasingly resistant to currently available commercial de-wormers. Parasite loads not only reduce performance, but can lead to animal death. When sold, infected animals may spread parasites to other pastures. Learn more sustainable methods at this presentation.
Access these three webinar presentations at the reduced price of $25. The links are listed on your registration confirmation. After you have watched the three presentations, contact Maud ...Read full story.
In this Urban Agriculture Systems online course you'll learn the foundational concepts needed to establish a productive growing space, especially within the confines of an urban environment. In this course, we will work through a number of aspects of site planning and management. You'll do a quick examination of your sites soil, practice fertility adjustment and balancing, and consider how your project fits within its social environment.
After completing this course, you'll be able to:
OSU Dry Farming Project
2020 Virtual Field Tour Series
Save the Dates
Mark your calendars! The 2020 Dry Farm Project field tours will be held on Wednesday mornings at 10:00AM in August and September. There will be nine field tours featuring different elements of the five core projects listed below. View more information and a final schedule once posted.
The Dry Farming Project began in 2013 with case studies of farms in Western Oregon and Northern California (coordinated by Community Alliance with Family Farmers) that dry farm a variety of fruit and vegetable crops. These case studies revealed a suite of management practices that support crop production without supplemental irrigation including: careful timing of tillage, early planting, cultivation or surface ...Read full story.
Enjoy an informative and entertaining look at historic and present-day techniques for extending your garden produce throughout the winter months. We will discuss plans for creating a root cellar, ideas for recycling spaces and containers, and specific conditions for various produce. Resource handouts will be provided, and there will be time for Q & A. Via ZOOM!
Presenter: Brief bio:
Tresa has lived in various climates and remote locations where the use of root cellars determined her quality of life after the autumn harvest and before the productivity of gardens in spring. From Glacier Bay, Alaska, a remote island on the Oregon coast to central Oregon high desert and 10,000-foot elevation in Colorado, she has practiced techniques gleaned from ...Read full story.
In 1980 Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade started Winter Green Farm just 20 miles west of Eugene, five years later Wali and Jabrila Via joined them and in 2009 long-time employees Chris Overbaugh and Shannon Shipp-Overbaugh a...
Manure and bedding collects rapidly on most livestock farms, especially in the winter. Instead of pitching the waste out the back of the barn, consider turning the materials into a valuable, usable product. Compost. If an active compos...
As summer approaches and the soil dries, forage plants become dormant. Some years in drier areas of Oregon dormancy may begin in the late spring. If you have irrigation rights, your pastures can provide supplemental nutrition even duri...
Gophers are useful animals in the wild as they aerate the soil, eat insects and mix surface soil layers, but they are a nuisance on the farm when conflict surfaces between the farmer and the gopher over land use. Their economic impact...