Author: Building Community Through Food and Partnerships: Gathering Together Farm, Part 1

Publish Date: Spring 12

New farms and food artisans continue to pop up in our community. In the case of Gathering Together Farm (GTF), multiple farms have popped up within a couple of mile radius over the past few years and some food artisans have even gotten their start within Gathering Together Farm, such as Burnheimer Meat Co. and Weinsteiger Mustard Co. This article will highlight how local farms and food artisans get started, support one another, and touch upon how these partnerships work in the case of GTF.

GTF got their start in 1987 on 20 acres with 5 employees, in year two dropped down to 7 acres with just the owners John Eveland and Sally Brewer, and has grown to employing over 50 people at the high point in their season and farming over 50 acres. Their primary markets in the beginning were Nearly Normal’s restaurant, which John is part owner in, and wholesaling through Organically Grown Company.

Twenty-five years later GTF is providing high quality produce for multiple marketing channels including: farmers markets, restaurants, grocery stores, 200+ members CSA, GTF farm stand, on-farm restaurant, and Organically Grown Company. In addition to GTF’s growth and success over the past 25 years, multiple partnerships have blossomed and facilitated new growth in our community food system.

GTF’s restaurant and farm stand source products locally, and in many cases less than a couple miles away. The farm stand sells their own farm fresh produce in addition to products from neighboring farms including: eggs and poultry from Provenance farm, lamb from Cattail Creek, poultry from Afton Field Farm, fish from Moonshine Park Fish Company, and sausage and bacon from Burnheimer Meat Co. just to name a few.

Brad Burnheimer started working for GTF’s on-farm restaurant with chef J.C. Mersman in 2009, and decided to start Burnheimer Meat Co. in 2011. Brad is extremely grateful towards John, Sally, and J.C. for providing him access to their ODA certified kitchen when the restaurant is closed. Brad sources meat from Mosaic Farm, Provenance Farm, Evergreen Creek Farm, and Heritage Farm NW and sells his products directly to the consumer. The local farms he sources from get their animals processed through USDA certified facilities and deliver them to Brad.

The newest growth for Burnheimer Meat Co. has been starting a meat CSA that offers an array of customized options in a monthly meat box, and exploring a new partnership with Deck Family Farm in Junction City, OR. Brad will be hosting and cooking for a Burnheimer Meat Co. fundraiser dinner on Saturday May 5, 2012 at Gathering Together Farm’s restaurant for 50 people with proceeds going towards his start-up infrastructure costs. To find out more the meat CSA or make a reservation for the dinner contact Brad Burnheimer at www.burnheimermeatco.com or 541- 231-4085.

Rebecka Weinsteiger has worked for GTF for 5 years helping with farmer’s markets. When Rebecka expressed interest to John and Sally in starting Weinsteiger Mustard Co. a few years ago, they were very supportive. They provided Rebecka with the opportunity to host a fundraiser dinner at their restaurant with chef J.C. to get her business off the ground. She was also provided access to GTF’s certified kitchen when the restaurant was closed to make mustard. Weinsteiger Mustard Co sources mustard seed, beer, honey, horseradish, and other herbs as available locally. Rebecka said that she feels “more than just employed by GTF. I feel that I am a part of their family.”

Gathering Together Farm is a great model of what can happen when you combine talents and a community to grow with and work in. The people side of farming can be more complicated at times than growing food. When asked about how all of these partnerships work, John mentioned that it was about growing high-quality vegetables first and foremost, and then having pragmatic people that like what they do on board. According to Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seeds (another partner of GTF), “it is about finding people that have complimentary not competitive interests. Then consider how that person’s passion can be something you are a part of. We are way more together than we are alone.” These partnerships expand the reach of each of these farms deep into our community and beyond.

Stay tuned! In a future edition of Small Farm News, we will cover the partnership between Wild Garden Seeds and Gathering Together Farm in “Building Community through Food and Partnerships, Part 2”.