Italy awaits

It's been 17 years since I left the country. I would say it's about time. Follow me on instragram and here for updates. @farmerevanpdx and #terramadrepdx


I really have become a farmer

There have been two recent articles and many comments that have lit that fire in the farming community. Here is our take on the articles written.

“Being a farmer means wanting to do it more than anything else. It means giving up things other people take for granted as givens, like travel and the latest fashion, new cars and 401k plans.” From -Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers

Our farm was started because as like other small farmers there is a passion inside us that drives us. It’s crazy… sure… we love what we do though. We are not selling widgets here on our farm. We get to be stewards of the land taking care of the land and making sure that no chemical or GMO or whatever can harm the natural ecosystem. At the same time we get to compassionately raise animals so future generations can enjoy the same thing we experienced in our backyard when we started to become farmers. Certainly our losses have been great at times and but taking them in stride and trying to figure out what went wrong along the way is the agreement you make with yourself. This recent article really hits home because like many others we became farmers.
Quote from Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers -“Let them bring animals into this world, and realize they don't care about placenta on their shirt because they no longer care about shirts. Let them wake up during a snowstorm and fight drifts at the barn door instead of traffic. Let them learn what real work is. Let them find happiness in the understanding that success and wealth are not the same thing. Let them skip the fancy wedding. Let them forget four years of unused college. Let them go.”

When I looked at my closet of shirts I said to myself last week I didn’t have anything I can wear out to the city that is not covered in some farm stain, it reminds me…I really have become a farmer. Every dollar we have put back into the farm. This has given us one of the greatest gifts in life. The ability to feel like you're actually doing something that could benefit future generations. What corporate job besides a few could come close to saying that? Sure they donate millions but are their hearts in the right place or are they just giving to receive a tax credit? We do what we do because it’s not about us; it’s WAY bigger than that. It’s about being able to feed generations from now healthy non contaminated food. It’s about seeing our children grow up and swim in the same rivers that your grandparents did. It’s about teaching kids about the sacredness of life and how to love and care for plants and animals. Imagine every town or part of the city has its own small market, no huge strip malls. Culture is lost in these parking lot deserts. Imagine kids know where their food comes from every meal and participates in cooking or even harvesting it. Portland is definitely a model for how we can take this true sense of Agri-“culture” and embrace it. Creating spaces where people can gather and bring together the community. We all need to create this missing culture out of what chaos has destroyed for centuries, like famine, GMOs, herbicides, on and on. Farmers are the root of communities and have been for centuries. Build around them.

What I pulled from all these recent articles is that every farm has a different scenario. Every farm needs certain expenses to run and the cost of those expenses can vary widely depending on what they do. If your profits are coming in and interns save labor costs so you can take products to the market and compete with other more well established farms then so be it, make it work. Whatever the model is small farmers need to make it work and do it well. Small farmers are good at making things come together; they have ingenuity, they are great at building a community and have an enduring passion for the land. If not for thousands of years of natural breeding and selecting crops and animals the food system would not have survived. These were all the small farmers preserving generations of food keeping us moving forward. Keeping the small farmers in business is the best thing a community could do for everyone.

Please encourage your children to take part somehow. More farmers are needed and in all roles in the small farms community.

“Any son or daughter of mine that dared to be so bold would not be discouraged from facing the world with such fierceness for simplicity. Antlers on fire can set a lot more holes in a dark blanket.” -From Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers

Aint’ that the truth!

Here are all the articles and comments:
Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers Op-Ed in the Sunday NY Times by Bren Smith, seaweed and shellfish farmer of Thimble Island Oyster Farm in Brandford, CT

Let Your Children Grow Up to be Farmers on the Huffington Post blog by Jenna Woginrich, “Small Farmer, Big Blogger” and author of Cold Antler Farm blog in Jackson, NY

These Letters to the Editor of the NY Times by Joel Salatin, Jennifer McTiernan, Daren Bakst and Sam Hitt.

“Please let your children grow up to be farmers” from the Farmers’ Fold blog by Jeff Hake, the farmer training program manager with The Land Connection in Champaign, IL


Please help fund my way to Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto.

I have a couple more months to reach my goal. I already have reached part of it please help me finish it off.

I am so energized to have been chosen as one of the 240 US delegates to the biennial Terra Madre & Salone del Gusto global food and farming conference hosted by Slow Food International from October 23-27 in Turin, Italy. This year the Terra Madre theme is food diversity as an alternative to industrial agriculture which is very personally connected with what I do on and off the farm. 

Terra Madre will give me an exceptional chance to build relationships and pull together ideas and knowledge with people from all over the world. Delegates from over 130 countries are chosen because they have something to offer through the scope of food diversity.

Why fund me? 

For over ten years now my ethos has been to educate myself about sustainable food production in order to help empower others while also being a full time farmer at Boondockers Farm, in Beavercreek, Oregon. I found my second nature when I was in Eugene when I became a Master Gardener and found a love for soil nutrition, biodiversity, permaculture methods, and community involvement. I soon recognized the necessity for a new generation of farmers.  On the farm, I specialize in preserving heirlooms and open pollinated vegetables, flowers and heritage animals from the depths of endangerment and putting them all back on productive homesteads and farms.

Based upon my personal introduction to plants and animals when very young by my mom and grandparents, I strongly believe in cultivating a gardening interest in children throughout their childhood, coupled with ongoing delivery of information to the public is crucial to keeping healthy food on the table.  I enjoy teaching others of all ages about biodiversity, growing techniques, preserving foods, saving seeds and everything about heritage animals. I have been an advisor to many small and mid size farmers and homesteaders who are engaged in raising heritage ducks and heirloom and open pollinated vegetables. I have held workshops and classes on the farm, Farmers Markets (Portland), Master Gardener events (Eugene), at Portland Nursery (Portland), the NW Permaculture Convergence (Port Townsend, Wa), OSU Small Farms Conference (Corvallis), Mother Earth News Fair (Puyallup, Wa), Local Food Connection (Eugene), Farmer to Chef Connection (Portland) and others.

 I plan on visiting farms for collecting exclusive Italian and French seeds to be grown out in Oregon. I will offer these seeds the following season as I trial them out on the farm in Spring 2015. I also plan on doing some poultry research while I am there. I will be looking for old ways they might be doing things so that we can implement in the Northwest and share with everyone. The climate is similar to Oregon and going to a climatically similar area will be very helpful to getting some firsthand experience from a culture that has been raising animals and plants for thousands of years. My enthusiasm for educating about farming and sustainable food has given me the opportunity to take part in Terra Madre and I expect it will increase my food perspective significantly. I have heard that the conference is a transformational experience; some might call it the food Olympics. I hope to gain as much information as I can, leave inspired, and come back with profound admiration for the many food cultures that will be represented and many farmers I visited with.

What I'm asking for & What you get
As a delegate, Slow Food Portland raises a little portion for travel and pays for conference admissions, meals and lodging at Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto.  Basically, the funds I raise will pay for my airfare to Italy, transportation and lodging to visit farms in Italy. The plan is to get there before the conference to go to farms. If funding is surpassed I will stay longer and search for more seeds and poultry!

Donating comes with perks from all around the Willamette Valley in Oregon….Signed copies of amazing sustainable food books, Portland food and liquor, farm dinners, duck class what more could you ask for?

Thanks you so much to all donors for your amazing generosity, time and consideration in helping make this trip really feasible, Nicolette Hahn Niman, Author, Defending Beef - Nick Arnerich, Renata Restaurant - Tressa Yellig, Salt Fire and Time - Rebecca Thistlethwaite, Author, Farms of the Future - Chris Fredeen Douglas, Arugularium - Dudley Clark, Hard Times Distillery - Michael Wayne Barnett, Red Truck Homestead - Erika Reagor, Thrive NW - Erika Polmar, Plate to Pitchfork - Scottie Jones, Leaping Lamb Farmstay
Please spread the word!
Please help me get the word out by sharing this link with others you feel might want to donate and please post it to your Facebook, Twitter or wherever!  Thank you so much! ~ Evan


Diversity is the keystone of the breed

Recent discussions among Ancona enthusiasts about creating standards for the breed which would limit acceptable color combinations in order to achieve recognition by the APA raises many concerns for us and we were reminded of a conversation we had with Carol Deppe, renowned seed saver/geneticist, author, and long time Ancona Breeder.  We would like to share this memorable quote with you from her:

"I think part of what makes Anconas so much fun is that you can tell all the individuals, at least you can if you keep all the colors and patterns.  I think separating them by color is a step in the wrong direction.  Also, part of their behavior may depend upon the fact that they can so easily tell each other apart.  I noticed that Anconas treat single-color breed ducks as generic ducks, not as individuals.  I also suspect the vigor of the breed is because they are very heterozygous for all the chromosomes involving color genes.  Pure color groups is just a bad idea, I think.  It is failing to appreciate what is unique about this breed."  -Carol Deppe, 2010

There is no doubt acceptance into the American Poultry Association (APA) could be a great achievement for this breed, yet there are a number of reasons why they still have not.  We all agree that Anconas are a breed well deserving of admiration and more. The diversity within the breed contributes beauty and social behavior as well as genetic diversity and resilience.  If acceptance into the APA requires we encourage the breeding of a limited genetic pool the best advice is to step forward with the breed, in another direction. 

Our farm focuses on highlighting our heritage breeds in the culinary arena, not the show ring.  The best way we know to save a breed is to highlight their utility and to breed responsibly or with the best intentions for the heath of the breed.

Our heroes in this effort are the chefs and butchers, the food writers, journalists, and photographers, the backyard or hobby Ancona Breeders (who are so important!), of course our Master Breeders (Dave Holderread and Carol Deppe), and those who give us the opportunity to be so selective in our breeding by purchasing our eggs or ordering our duck at a farmers market or local restaurant.  Thank you all for contributing to diverse, secure, and healthy food communities!


Debunking some myths about the Ancona Duck, with master breeder Dave Holderread

Ok everyone get your coffee and hold on to your seat because years of confusion is about to become fact. This audio was taken last year in an attempt to make all the confused Ancona lovers a little less confused. 

Master breeder Dave Holderread and the Boondockers Farm have been working together to help create a wonderful diverse population of Ancona ducks. Dave talks about breeding, color traits, tri-colored Anconas, Magpies, eye color and more! Listening to this is a MUST if you plan on breeding these endangered creatures before the are run into the ground genetically.

The Dave Holderread audio was shot with audio and only because we were eating dinner and didnt want to film the dinner.


Ensuring Diversity by Preserving the Past

Reposted from These Salty Oats Blog Jun 18 2013

Ensuring Diversity by Preserving the Past

Spending time on a farm tends to lead to deep philosophical conversations about the nature of life and society. A few weeks ago, I found myself engaged in one such conversation with Rachel Kornstein, farmer at Beavercreek's Boondockers Farm. The topic: our nation's awareness of heirloom plants versus its ignorance of heritage animals, and why information and access to heirloom plants is so much more accessible.
I can easily find multiple varieties of fairly obscure vegetables at the farmers' market, or even some grocery stores. And if I polled a random selection of non-chain restaurants, I'd presume that a large percentage list an "heirloom tomato" as one of its burger ingredients. But how much information can you glean about the meat in that burger? Some might list the cooperative at which the meat is processed, or proudly share that the meat is "100% Angus beef, USDA certified". If you're lucky, the restaurant will list the farm on which the animal was raised. But only the rarest restaurant will list the breed of animal you're eating. Ultimately, it's easier for a person to be drawn to – and comfortable with – an heirloom variety of a tomato than a heritage variety of beef. Because in order to acknowledge that there are multiple different breeds of animal, one has to first acknowledge that they're eating an animal.

I plant heirloom vegetable varieties in my garden because I want the most flavorful food I can produce and because I want to ensure, even on the smallest of small scales, genetic diversity of these plants. Like nearly every word associated with food, 'heritage' and 'heirloom' are traveling the same course as 'natural' and 'sustainable', are already overused and misinterpreted.
Heritage and heirloom basically mean the same thing: heritage applies to animals, while heirloom identifies vegetables and fruits. "Heritage" animals refer to breeds that were common on farms before the development of specialized, industrial breeds. Heirloom fruits and vegetables, unlike hybrid, or even genetically modified plants, are a collection of varieties that haven't been grown in vast quantities commercially and are at least 75 years old.

Industrial agriculture relies on non-heritage breeds. Instead of depending on animals' innate ability to withstand disease, thrive on pasture, and adapt to their environment, these breeds are bred to produce vast quantities of milk or eggs and fatten up quickly. Before the advent of modern agriculture, farmers raised thousands of different animal breeds and plants. Today, we eat from a narrow pool, where foods are listed by a single name – melon, apple, zucchini, bean – rather than their variety. Instead of choosing among Cershownskis (melon), Baldwins (apple), Cocozelles (zucchini), or Black Valentines (bean), all varieties are lumped together. And in some cases, we only have a few varieties to choose from. In 1903, Americans grew almost 500 different varieties of lettuce. By 1983, we had only 36 varieties left to plant.
As modern agriculture managed to simultaneously consolidate and expand, our diets moved in the same direction. We grow millions of acres of corn, but the millions of corn stalks dotting the landscapes are all the same, mostly genetically modified, variety of dent corn. We slaughter over 9 million chickens each year, but these chickens are nearly identical, from Virginia to California, bred to be breast-heavy and quick-growing. A fairly predictable crisis comes from this bland, uniform (and cruel) approach: by reducing the genetic diversity derived from a multi-faceted system with inherent checks and balances built in, we're now only a superweed or virus away from jeopardizing a large percentage of our food supply.
Sustainable Table reports that in the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct. Farmers who raise heritage breeds do so to encourage robust genetic diversity in the breed, and to preserve valuable traits within the species.

Rachel and her partner, Evan Gregoire, are working to make the conversation around heritage meat less uncomfortable. Their farm, nestled between two rolling country roads, framed by pine trees and situated above three small lakes, houses hundreds upon hundreds of Ancona and Saxony ducks and Delaware chickens, along with Dutch Belted and Jersey dairy cows, Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs, Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, and a large collection of heirloom tomato plants. Through sheer force of will, continued self-directed learning, and tender respect for their animals, the exceptional products they raise are helping to slowly shift awareness of people and from restaurants in their radius. As Rachel emphatically states, "If you have a birth to slaughter system you can afford to save a breed."

On my first visit to Boondockers Farm, I drove to the address listed on my phone and encountered a locked gate. Although I'd arranged this visit via email, I wasn't comfortable driving in without first alerting someone I was there. From the gate, I took in the classic white farmhouse directly in front of me and the yard dotted with chickens and crowing roosters. To my left, past rows of blueberry bushes, rose a picturesque barn, mostly red, but flaked with yellows and greens. Beyond that, I could glimpse a few other buildings. There was a light mist in the air and the scene was fittingly pastoral – and quiet – until I saw a woman in a red hoodie zoom by on a dirt bike. I watched the bike speed to a far field, where the rider dismounted to adjust fencing that surrounded at least 100 ducks, before taking off to another field that I couldn't see from my limited vantage point.

I called the phone number I had. No answer. I texted. No response. Finally, not knowing what to do, I pulled to the side of the road and waited. Five minutes later, Evan called me. "I can see you sitting out there in your Mazda. Just open the gate and let yourself in." Oh! Once in, I parked, and seeing neither Evan nor Rachel, I started wandering the large property. I knew I'd eventually stumble into someone and was wrapped up in familiarizing myself with the 70 acre farm, particularly their magnificent barn.

This solitude lasted only a few minutes before I detected a presence beside me. As I crouched down to take a photo of a chicken, a tom turkey stepped into the frame. Whereas most farm animals treat me with wary disregard or mild interest, this particular turkey was toointerested and aware of me. I immediately sensed I was in its space and decided to walk in a different direction. It shadowed my walk, flaring its feathers. In fact, no matter what direction I headed in, as soon as I put the camera to my eye, the turkey edged closer. Realizing that I should introduce myself to the farmers before being pecked at by this turkey, I headed into the farmhouse, where I met Evan, who was heading to the egg incubator.

What I had mistaken for indifference as I idled at the locked gate was the fact that Evan and Rachel operate their farm in a near constant state of activity, a state that for nearly anyone else would dissolve into chaos, but for Boondockers is highly efficient and effective.

Evan and Rachel have been a couple for over a decade, and farmers for eight of those years. Neither started out as farmers; Evan has a degree in business administration and worked in Los Angeles before moving to Oregon, while Rachel has a culinary degree and considered a career as a pastry chef. After time in L.A., the couple moved to Eugene 9 years ago. While in their original tiny studio, they started tomato seedlings under their bed. Eventually, these seedlings grew into a large quantity of heirloom tomatoes which they sold to friends and chefs. Rachel was still in culinary school at this point, but beginning to feel increasingly uncomfortable about her complacency in a food system she wanted to change.

They bought their first two ducks after slugs and snails destroyed their garden. As Rachel describes it: "Evan was reading a book by Eliot Coleman, and the book talked about ducks being the ultimate garden companion. And he likened them to the Schmoo – a cartoon character that looks like a blob – it will turn into anything you need. It will jump into a pan to fry itself if you're hungry."
A quick Google search led them to Dave Holderread of Holderread Waterfowl Preservation Center. As an expert on domesticated water fowl, Holderread strives to conserve rare breeds of domestic ducks and geese from around the world. He currently raises over 40 distinct breeds of ducks and geese. Holderread's Center is located in Corvallis, a mere hour's drive from Evan and Rachel's former home in Eugene. After hearing that they were interested in a utility breed of duck that they could help preserve, Holderread recommended the Ancona breed, a descendant of the Indian Runner Duck and the Belgian Huttegem Duck. Anconas are known as all-purpose, adaptable birds. They're excellent layers, produce flavorful meat, and will happily forage for food, including slugs – the perfect revenge against the seedling killers.

Rachel and Evan's two ducks lived in their yard, eating slugs and snails, enabling their vegetables to grow unharmed. And as they began to grow their duck population, they started to receive enthusiastic feedback from chefs about their eggs and tomatoes. Realizing that they had an opportunity to promote rare breeds to an eager audience, and seeking a connection to food and land that neither had had in their previous careers, Rachel and Evan decided to transition to full-time farming.
After moving among multiple locations in the Eugene area, their current farm in Beavercreek, Oregon, is what Rachel calls "a dream," sharing that she got goosebumps when she first saw the property. "We've never even had a barn before. I'm used to milking my cows out in the field, tied to a fence post preferably. Usually an electric fence – I've gotten shocked through the cow's udder. I was milking once tied to an electrical pole in a lightning storm. That was a bad idea," Rachel laughingly shared.

Because they're raising their large collection of birds on pasture, I rarely saw Rachel and Evan in the same area, except when Evan was passing through the kitchen on his way out. Rachel and Evan divide their tasks according to their personalities. Rachel is the ultimate animal lover, with an inimitable personality. I frequently found myself wondering about her energy level and eager willingness to engage in any and every conversation topic I posed. I watched as she treated each animal with care, holding a chick in the sunlight, patting a dog, rubbing a sick cow's head, tickling a piglet's nose, or herding a curious calf back to her mother. I witnessed exhausting work that, for the most part, didn't seem like work to Rachel. She rotated from animal to animal, nurturing them with water, feed, hay, and scraps of meat from the local butcher.

Evan exhibits a certain amount of jesting bravado when talking about himself. While I watched him butcher several ducks on a hot Friday afternoon, I chatted with him about where he'd learned to butcher, asking if he had apprenticed somewhere. His answer (with a wink): "I'm good at things." Despite Evan's wry temperament, when something wasn't done properly or on time, whether it was an intern who didn't communicate with him, or traffic causing a delay in delivery, his demeanor transitioned to an air of focused determination to get ahead of the rolling waves of work – and an awareness of just how to do that.

Along with Evan's interaction with chefs and delivery drives into Portland, the clearest role division I gleaned was with slaughter. Evan kills; Rachel eviscerates. The animals are slaughtered on a small scale. First, the ducks are stunned with an effective throat slit. They lose consciousness as they lose blood. After about a minute of being hung upside down to bleed out, each bird is transferred to a crate to rest. It's then dunked in boiling water to enable the feathers to loosen. The entire slaughtering process is quick and quiet. Once one bird has finished bleeding out, Evan retrieves the next duck from the holding pen around the corner.

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has said that if you decide to raise meat, you enter into a bargain with the animal you're raising. If you take an animal's life, you must give the animal a life that's better than what they'd create on their own. "We MUST offer animals a better deal in life than they'd get without our help," he writes. Much-lauded farmers like Joel Salatin, Frank Reese, and Bill Niman raise animals that are allowed to exhibit their natural characteristics. If the test of a content animal is allowing that animal to exhibit these natural characteristics, then Boondockers' collection of ducks, chickens, and cows are as relaxed as possible. There are chickens everywhere, brooding, dust-bathing, running around (and sometimes inside the house if someone forgets to close the door). The roosters strut around crowing, their loud cock-a-doodle-do dying in the back of their throat like a record being snatched off the table right as a song is finishing. Cows lazily stand beside the farmhouse's front door, chewing on grass. The ducks are in open pen enclosures, complete with blue kiddie pools filled with water, each group guarded by their personal Great Pyrenees. These dogs are Boondockers' right-hand canines. Without them, the ducks mortality rate would be much higher – and their access to the outside very limited. With the dogs' help, Rachel and Evan's hands-on time with the ducks consists of refreshing water, scattering feed if necessary, and moving fences. The dogs look after the ducks' well-being.
The chicks and ducklings are raised in the spacious barn and fed lamb meat to boost their nutrition. Even the injured birds aren't forgotten; the gimpy and sickly are separated in a box in the kitchen with hopes that they'll become strong enough to return to the flock.

After witnessing the Ancona's unique temperament and versatility, Evan and Rachel quickly transitioned from two ducklings in their yard to taking up the mantle of breed preservation. In 2010, they acquired all of Holderread's Ancona stock, feeling an immense responsibility to continue to raise and promote the breed. Along with Ancona ducks and their smaller collections of Saxony ducks and Delaware chickens, Rachel and Evan are researching breed preservation of several other animals, notably pigs and rabbits. They hope to acquire a few more Gloucestershire Old Spots and use their already strong connections with Portland chefs to promote this breed at farm dinners and eventually on restaurant menus. Boondockers works closely with Animal Welfare Approved; one of their biggest and most daunting goals for this next year is to work with AWA to develop a mobile poultry slaughter house, a system that would allow them to raise more birds while assisting other farms.

Because they operate a diverse rare breed animal farm, each day is different and potentially unpredictable. Certain tasks are regular occurrences, like moving the portable fencing, rotating the ducks to different fields, incubating eggs, and driving long stretches to the Post Office to ship ducklings and chicks. But in my five visits to Boondockers, I began to expect the unexpected each time I drove up their driveway, unlatching that gate. Often Rachel was speeding around on the four-wheeler, tending to the cows or ducks. And Evan frequently was camped upstairs, reaching out to restaurants, sharing updates on Facebook or Twitter, and constantly expanding Boondockers' reach. Evan and Rachel are uncompromising in their farm's mission. They're not just raising eggs and meat, they're challenging consumers to think about food differently, using their spot in Beavercreek to advance the public's connection between food security and flavor. In describing what other farms have done to save breeds, Rachel inadvertently described Boondockers' mission:
"[These farms] built the market for the products, banded together the farmers and saved breeds in an entirely grassroots way. I'm hopeful that if you have enough people with the same breed in a close area, you make an impact; everyone helps each other because they're all on the same page."

Their methods of outreach and promotion are varied enough to capture as diverse an audience as possible. Whether a customer relates by flavor, by conversing with a farmer, by having a chef transform an ingredient, or by visiting the farm and interacting with the wide range of animals (except for that Tom Turkey), Boondockers is leading the conversation around the vital importance of heritage animals.


Boondockers Farm


Saturday's Oregon City Farmers Market and Hollywood Farmers Market
Sunday's Montavilla Farmers Market and Hillsdale Farmers Market
Salt Fire and Time
City Farm
Know Thy Food


Enjoy their eggs at Ava Gene's, Beast, Irving Street Kitchen, and Lincoln, and their duck and eggs at Kingdom of Roosevelt.


What’s Growing in Oregon

What’s Growing in Oregon: Article Repost

Posted by Sophie Ackoff on Thursday, February 14, 2013 ·

It’s the height of conference season, and I was delighted to travel this week to Oregon for the Organicology Conference, a three-day gathering of folks from all across the organic food chain in Portland, OR. The event seeks to bring all stakeholder groups to the table to not only develop skills in their own areas of activity but to gain exposure to the challenges and accomplishments of those in other areas of the organic movement. The great takeaway? There are many different opinions on what organic should look like, but the more united we become, the stronger our movement will be. And without supporting the next generation of organic farmers, the organic movement cannot continue!
Excited to meet the brilliant and innovative young farmers of the beaver state, I rented a car and started touring. I met with Leah and Nellie of Oregon’s FarmON!, a one-year old coalition of young and beginning farmers in the state and a proud affiliate of NYFC. I had a drink with Megan Fehrman of the Rogue Farm Corps which has a beginning farmer training program down in Ashland, OR and Dan Bravin from the Beginning Urban Farmer Apprenticeship (BUFA.) BUFA is a partnership between Multnomah County and Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service and trains 20 urban farmers each year.

Rowan Steele, who co-owns Fiddlehead Farm with his wife Katie Coppoletta, is starting a brand new incubator program- Headwaters Farm Incubator- on land leased by the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. I joined in for a tour of the land, and was inspired by the excitement of the potential incubatees.

Evan and Rachel of Boondockers Farm in Beavercreek, OR are pioneers in breeding rare heritage poultry. The breeds they focus on raising are listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. The couple told me about how conventional hatcheries often kill male babies when they’re not needed. They believe anyone raising pasture-based birds shouldn’t ignore the inhumane practices of the commercial hatchery! They also grow and sell heirloom seeds, breed heritage turkeys, and raise Great Pyrenees dogs to protect their flocks.

My last stop was Lonesome Whistle Farm down in Junction City, OR where Jeff and Kasey are working to preserve and promote rare and unique dry bean and grain varieties through a bean and grain CSA. Starting out as veggie farmers, Jeff and Kasey quickly taught themselves bean and grain growing, and are happy to be producing quality product not easily found locally. They grow: Dakota Black Popcorn, Red Fife Wheat Flour, Purple Harless Barley, Emmer Berries, a diverse array of heirloom beans, polenta, and more!

Farmers in Oregon are busy fighting plantings of Roundup Ready GM Canola in the Willamette Valley which threatens its lively organic seed industry. And GM sugarbeets are grown just up the road from Lonesome Whistle Farm. There’s certainly plenty to organize around here, but the state’s supportive policies and markets for local food make Oregon a great place to be a young farmer.

MORE PHOTOS FROM SOPHIES ARTICLE : http://www.youngfarmers.org/news/2013/02/14/whats-growing-in-oregon/


Still time to order Ancona and Saxony ducklings this Spring!

We still have mid-May and June spots available for Ancona and Saxony ducklings this Spring!!

Let us know if you would like to order! Thank you for supporting rare heritage breeds!

- Evan and Rachel


We have Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs

The Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

The Gloucestershire Old Spots is a historic pig breed known for its distinctive white coat with black spots. The breed was developed in the Berkley Vale of Gloucestershire, England, during the 1800s. Its exact origins are not known, though it was likely based on two breeds – the original Gloucestershire pig which was large, off-white, had wattles and was without spots, and second, the unimproved Berkshire. Both of the old breeds used to develop the Old Spots are now extinct.

Gloucestershire (pronounced Glostersheer) pigs were selected as excellent foragers and grazers. The pigs are thrifty, able to make a living from pasture and agricultural by products, such as whey from cheese making, windfall apples in orchards, and the residue from pressing cider. These easy keeping qualities gave Gloucestershire Old Spots the nicknames “cottage pig” and “orchard pig.” British folklore claims the large black spots are bruises caused by the apples falling onto them as they foraged the orchard floors for food.

In 1913 the British Board of Agriculture announced a livestock development scheme that included the licensing of breeding boars. Farmers of the Berkley Vale realized this plan threatened the very existence of their beloved local pig breed. Subsequently, the Gloucestershire Old Spots Breed Society was formed in November of 1913 placing the breed among the oldest spotted pedigreed pig breeds known. The breed hit a high point in popularity in Great Britain just after World War 1 when the naturally large proportions of lean meat from Old Spots was perfectly suited for to the production of lean, streaky bacon that was fast becoming popular in Great Britain at this time. Old Spots reigned supreme as the pork of choice for discerning palates and in livestock shows through the 1920’s and early 1930’s. The breed became rare after World War II, when the shift to intensive pig production reduced interest in pigs that could thrive out of doors. The remaining population nearly became extinct in the 1960s, though it has increased slowly since then.

Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs were imported to the United States during the 1900s, and they made genetic contributions to several American breeds, especially the American Spot and the Chester White. The breed never became numerous in the United States, however, and was practically extinct by the 1990s. In 1995, Kelmscott Farm Foundation of Lincolnville, Maine, organized an importation of twenty Gloucestershire piglets to reestablish the purebred population in America. A breed society was founded, and the number of animals is increasing. As of 2009, there are about less than 1000 Gloucestershire Old Spots in Great Britain and fewer than 200 breeding animals in the US. The breed notably benefits from continued support of the British Royal Family who favors pork from these pigs for their table.
The Gloucestershire Old Spots pig is known for its docility, intelligence, and prolificacy. Boars reach a mature weight of 600 lbs (136 kg) and sows 500 lbs (125 kg). The pigs are white with clearly defined black (not blue) spots. There must be at least one spot on the body to be accepted in the registry. The breed’s maternal skills make it able to raise large litters of piglets on pasture. Its disposition and self‑sufficiency should make it attractive for farmers raising pasture pigs and those who want to add pigs to diversified operations.  From http://albc-usa.org/cpl/gloucestershire.html


Crazy busy right now on the new farm!

This is the first full season of production for us in Beavercreek and its going to be a very exciting year of expansion for us. 

We are expecting to have more ducklings and chicks this year so let us know if you need any new additions to your backyard there are still spots remaining for May deliveries.

We are in the middle of making sure all the ducks have nests this year, we have more than ever so this is taking time. Keeping them in diverse breeding groups requires many pasture houses and moving of pasture poultry nets more often this time of year.

Flowers, tomatoes, peppers and peas are germinating, potatoes are about to go in on St. Patty's Day. The veggie season is rolling! Seeds are available on our site and special limited releases at the farmers markets around Portland. Let us know if you would like to see us somewhere we are not, we will see what we can do.

We will be at the Oregon City and Hillsdale Winter Markets through the rest of the winter (Every other weekend) and continuing at the summer markets. We will also be at the Montavilla Farmers Market and hope to be at Hollywood Farmers Market in Portland. Lake Oswego didnt want us at their Farmers Market, oh well their loss :) We will make a couple of the West Lynn Farmers Market this year as well.

We kept another one of Amalie's puppies this year, we named her Aurora. She is my pal, she follows me everywhere. She likes to plant with me. Our Pyrenees are taught respect of the land and animals and all chores involved, so they can be dualistic and serve as a companion as well as an amazing guard dog. It is possible.

We are putting in a moveable greenhouse actually two of them (17x48) here in the next couple weeks. Stay tuned for the moveable feast as Elliot Coleman puts it. It will give us eight zones to plant in early and extend the season throughout these rough cold nights we have here.

Keep checking for updates we will be posting more as the season progresses! Sorry about the lack of updates! Many more to come this year, stay tuned!  -Evan

Most of us don't need to search for meaning in our lives; we see it everyday" Tanya Tolchin from the greenhorns 50 dispatches book


With the start of Spring 2013 let’s talk heat units!

With the start of Spring let’s talk heat units!

With all the weather oddities we have been having it’s an easier way to see the true way to tell if you can get a harvest out of a crop for your area. Figuring your heat units that the crop requires and how many units your garden or farm has are the next steps...

Here is the way you calculate them, you take the day's high temperature (maximum) and the day's low temperature (minimum) and add them together. Then divide by two and subtract 55 from that. That gives you the heat units.

Example: Daytime high (maximum) 75 deg. F, nighttime low (minimum) 45 deg. F. Add those together and divide by 2 you get 120/2 or 60. Subtract 55 and you get 5 heat units. If you get a negative it means you dont add any that day.

It is helpful to keep track of your own min and max with a thermometer that does it for you. Its also fairly easy to find out the median heat units for your area if you look at temperature data highs and lows online for the closest weather stations temps, then you can figure the average for your area. It’s better to test the heat units where you are growing so you can see what your specific location is rather than the weather stations temperature. Happy planting season!!

Great Pyrenees puppies!

We will only have the last few for a week before everyone is snatched up! Reina's litter starts going home this weekend. Contact us for more information, www.BoondockersFarm.com
Puppies, Dec 28 2012


Great Pyrenees puppies near Portland Oregon

We have a couple Great Pyrenees puppies remaining for Reina's litter for sale, they dont go home until next week, they are 8 weeks on Saturday. Let us know if anyone is interested. We have not lost any ducks/chickens to ground predators since we got the Pyr's six and some years ago, why invest that much money on poultry just to lose the poultry to a raccoon! http://www.capitalpress.com/oregon/dr-guard-dogs-w-art


AKC registered Great Pyrenees Puppies!

Its that time again we have spots open for our AKC registered Great Pyrenees Puppies!

You can go to our website and see this page to see the litter updates.