Author: Toni Stephan, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University
Publish Date: Winter 2015
The Central Oregon Women Farmers Network just completed its first year. The organization began in December of 2013 with 35 people signing an interest list and 17 attending the first meeting which ended up being a snowy, windy and icy drive for those who came. There was a lot of interest from those in attendance about the new network.
2014 started out with an unofficial meeting of the group. A meeting on Mobile Slaughter Units was organized by another group and we attended this as our function for January. There were 29 people present to listen to information on MSUs, 9 of us were from the COWFN. The other unofficial meeting of the organization took place in March as our annual small acreage conference, Living on a Few Acres, was held. Many network members attended this conference and gained knowledge and made contacts that would help them on their properties and with their business endeavors.
We had regular meetings in February, April, May, July, September and November. In May we had our meeting at Rockton Ranch, home of Toni Stephan, the coordinator and advisor of the COWFN, and Rocky Bessette who works the property on a daily basis. The topic of the meeting was putting in a new hay field and all that goes with that. In July, we went to the home of Annie Andreson, who raises meat goats. We got to see how she set up her operation and learned about breeding and selection for herd success. Dr. Jennifer Cole came and discussed many details about raising meat goats. In September, we had our meeting at the home of Meri and Jerry Wallace. There we learned a bit about herbs and value added products and some of the difficulties and successes associated with that. We toured the farm and saw the hoop house that was under construction (see related article: Hooping it up in Central Oregon).
We had about 75 people come to the various meetings and events that were associated with this new network. We also started a facebook page which we use to announce different events throughout the area. We hope to grow our network even more this year and get larger turnouts to our meetings and events. If you are interested in finding out more about us contact: Toni Stephan, OSU Extension Horticulture and Small Farms Instructor, 541-548-6088 or toni.stephan@ oregonstate.edu