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  • Sandra Cesca

My Search for Organic Farms

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

I’m in fresh food heaven…tomatoes that don’t taste like cardboard, luscious peaches with so much juice it runs down your arm, sweet and tender corn on the cob that practically melts in your mouth! These are the results of the hard-working farmers that practice organic agriculture in and around Eugene, Oregon where I spent three weeks in July.

I visited three farms with the hopes of meeting the owners to interview them for this story. And also, with the crazy idea of perhaps working with them next summer. The largest farm that employs seasonal help is Groundwork Organics in Junction City just outside of Eugene. Their 125 acre organic farm is most impressive. They have a large farm stand on the property, a thriving CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture), presence at several weekly farmers markets, and accounts with several restaurants and retail grocery stores. I communicated with the owner Sophie Bello who along with her partner Gabe Cox told me they evaluate their staff needs come January for the coming summer. This farm I could happily work with.

The second smaller but sweet farm is Little Wings Farm, owned and operated by Rosie and Adam just outside Eugene. They have 5 acres and are planning to add more. This is only their second year growing but I was moved with not only their warm and welcoming personalities, but also the tremendous amount of work they accomplish along with a few part time volunteers. We picked blueberries (ate three, picked two!) then toured around the property. They will need help next summer with farm work and market operations.

There are a number of certifications available for farmers depending on their focus including Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, USDA certified organic, Domestic Fair Trade and Oregon Pasture Network. Many “locally grown” farms are not certified organic for several reasons particularly the prohibitive costs to get and maintain certification. A good resource listing 58 area farms is the Locally Grown Guide published by Willamette Farm and Food. This does not include the many organic wineries and breweries in the area.

Even though I used to live in Eugene some 20 years ago, I was still overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of growers and producers. This is one of the few places in the world where folks are practicing what so many of us already know as we look forward to the future of our food: know your farmer, eat locally and support those who are working hard to produce socially and environmentally responsible food.

For more profiles on people I have met on my travels go here.

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