Farm-to-Table Options Abound

By Craig Reed

Draft horses do much of the work at Ruby and Amber’s Organic Oasis. Photo courtesy of Farm

Scattered around Lane Electric Cooperative’s service area are small farms that produce a variety of food items for the dinner table. Some also grow flowers for colorful bouquets.

Following are short profiles on those farms, their owners, and the food they produce— from apples to onions to pork chops.

Fox Springs Farm

After careers in the corporate world, Marilyn and Dave Yordy wanted to keep themselves busy on a smaller scale. They chose farming and agritourism.

“We always had this dream of having a farm,” Dave says.

The couple bought property along Fox Hollow Road in 2014. They have been farming an acre of it in vegetables and three-fourths of an acre in flowers since 2016. The farm offers vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, eggs, seasonal fruit, nursery/bedding plants, baked goods, pasture-raised chicken, honey, jams, and pickled products.

“We want to provide access to healthy, locally grown food to our community,” Dave says. “Our goal is to take a sustainable and practical approach to microfarming. We leverage organic practices and believe soil health is essential to farming.”

The farm’s products are available through its Community Supported Agriculture program and at its farm stand, which is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Yordys also take products to Creswell Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Gillespie Farm

Dana and Julie Gillespie started out raising a pig for their own dinner table and evolved into raising pork chops for others.

Gillespie Farm specializes in red wattle pigs for both meat and breeding stock.

“Julie started researching pigs and the pork industry,” Dana says, noting the farm now has six sows and three boars. “We thought we could raise a better animal than the industry. We have such a demand we’re selling pretty much everything we can produce.”

The farm sells its pork to both retail and local markets or directly to customers.

To better use their 65 acres, the Gillespies recently added Highland cattle. The calves are sold as breeding stock.

The pigs and cattle are rotated on 2- to 4-acre pastures.

“We always have wanted to make use of our land, make the land pay for itself,” Dana says. “It’s a lifestyle. We enjoy what we’re doing. It’s very fulfilling to do the work we do with the animals. Our pigs are free-range, free-roaming their whole life. The best pork comes from animals that enjoy exercise, a healthy diet, and are managed sustainably.”

Good Food Easy

After 20 years of experience working for Sweetwater Farm, Erica Trappe became an owner of Good Food Easy in 2012.

She and her business partners, Tom Karakalos and her son, Isaac Kratzer, lease acreage from Sweetwater Farm.

Their focus is on Good Food Easy’s Community Supported Agriculture program that has about 100 members.

Food shares are delivered 49 weeks a year to members in the Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield areas.

Some produce is also sold on consignment in partnership with Fox Springs Farm at Creswell Community Market and a few Creswell restaurants.

In addition to outside farmland, Good Food Easy has 11 greenhouses, allowing the farmers to grow produce year-round for their CSA members.

“I like the variety of tasks,” Erica says. “It’s always different day to day, season to season, year to year. Farming has its challenges, but then there’s always next year.”

Erica says Good Food Easy came by its name because it is a month-to-month program, not an annual program. With advance notice, members can skip a share at no cost. Members can also customize their shares.

“We’re trying to be more flexible and accommodating with our CSA program,” Erica says.

Oak Song Farm

Christina Del Campo worked as a farm employee in California, Washington, and Oregon and was a Peace Corps volunteer in a farming environment before starting her own farm operation in 2017.

Under a mother-daughter partnership, Christina farms land owned by her mother, June Del Campo. June’s son, Matthew Ody, is also part of the farm’s crew.

Christina started her farm from scratch, cultivating 1 acre of former sheep and cattle pasture into a field of vegetables and flowers. Three acres for goats, chickens, and turkeys were added to the operation.
The farm sells produce, herbs, flowers, goat milk, goat milk soap, goat milk fudge, chicken eggs, chicken, turkey, and baked goods.

Twenty young fruit trees will soon provide additional food.

The Del Campos are committed to growing food without chemicals because they believe it is best for people’s health, the land, and the animals in their care.

Christina studied environmental studies at UC-Santa Cruz, took classes at the school’s organic farm, and worked at organic farms before coming to Lane County.

“I am a farmer because I enjoy the lifestyle,” Christina says. “I get to be outside every day experiencing all the weather, moving my body, and breathing fresh air. As a small business owner, I can be home with my kids while they are young, teaching them about the different plants we grow. They are being raised experiencing fresh food. We use organic practices because that is what we believe is best for the environment, as well as ourselves.”

The Oak Song Farm stand is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from April to December. The farm also sells at Spencer Creek Growers Market.

Ruby And Amber’s Organic Oasis

Ruby and Amber were the first team of draft horses to work this farm so they earned the honor of having the business named after them.

They pulled plows and other equipment through the fields to prepare the soil for planting and growing produce.

Ruby and Amber have since retired after helping Walt Bernard and Kris Woolhouse establish the farm in 1999, leaving the work to eight draft horses now on the property in the Row River Valley near Dorena. Tractor and people power also work the 10 acres of production on the 70-acre farm.

The mission of the farm is to grow fruits and vegetables, and for its chickens to produce eggs for the community. Grain is grown for the animals who also enjoy leftover fruits and vegetables, turning that food into compost and fertilizer for the farm.

Walt and Kris say the key to producing nutrient-dense food on their farm is nurturing the soil. They view the soil as a living, breathing organism that supports healthy plants, animals, and people.

The livestock within their farm system is their main source of fertilizer, and acts as the backbone to their on-farm composting system.

The farm has its own online market and sells its products at Lane County Farmers Market in Eugene on Saturdays.

In addition, Walt holds horse-driving workshops throughout the year, attracting students from around the world.

Sherman Family Farm

When Chris and Marie Sherman married in the early 1980s, they had a dream of living in the country and raising their own food.

They first achieved that goal in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas just outside Yosemite National Park. They had a garden, chickens, and a milk cow.

In 2011, the couple moved north to 20 acres off Fox Hollow Road and eventually began growing produce on a larger scale. Now in their fifth year of sales, the farm offers fruits and vegetables, garden starts, flowers, and chicken and quail eggs. The Shermans also raise Icelandic sheep and sell the lambs.

“We decided to put our property to work,” Chris says. “We’re now full-time farming.”

Chris says the farm follows organic and sustainable standards, including organic soil amendments and fertilizers, diverse crop rotations, and cover crops. The farm is a member of the Worldwide Organization of Organic Farming.

“We’re not certified, but we do everything as if we were,” Chris says.

The farm’s stand is open Monday through Friday, May through October. The Shermans also have a booth
at Spencer Creek Community Growers Market on Saturdays during the summer and offer online sales.

“We get great satisfaction in putting seed in the ground, harvesting the food, making it available to the community, then hearing about people’s enjoyment of the produce,” Chris says.