The Willamette Valley, known as the “grass seed capital of the world,” is famous for its green pastures, rolling hills of evergreen trees and its high demand for sustainable and organic farming. Particularly in Eugene, consumers are overwhelmingly demanding produce that meets organic standards, and equally as important, is locally grown.
Winter Green Farm, a fruit, vegetable, cattle and herb farm located in Noti (20 miles west of Eugene), attributes much of their farm’s success to entities such as Organically Grown and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), who have helped them distribute their produce to community members. Organically Grown is the largest wholesaler of organic produce in the Pacific Northwest and acts as an aid to help farms sell their produce to local markets.
CSA is an increasingly popular way for community members to consistently buy local produce. As a contract between the CSA member and the individual farm, members receive a box of fresh produce weekly for a predetermined number of weeks each year. Spencer Fenniman, 28, a farmer on Winter Green Farm, believes that CSA is one of the reasons that the farm continues to be successful from year to year.
“One of the great things about Community Supported Agriculture is ‘sharing the risk’ in each season, so people are taking a pledge to reduce the amount of risk that is placed solely on the farmer and spread it out throughout the community,” Fenniman said.
“Members pay upfront for food that we deliver throughout the year. It really helps with upfront costs at the beginning of the year when we don’t really have anything to sell yet. They basically own the harvest that we plant for them.”
This week Winter Green Farm’s CSA members are receiving a box filled with strawberries, turnips, broccoli, collards, chard, Napa cabbage, green onions and lettuce. Although, each delivery varies depending on the week’s harvest.
Winter Green Farm, which started over 30 years ago, is run by a group of about 25 farmers who are committed to growing quality produce in a sustainable and organic way. The farm, which lies on a parcel of land tucked between the green hills of the valley, reflects the rewards of hard work and responsible farming. Winter Green Farm returned to Lane County Farmers Market this year, after previously leaving due to poor location at the market and low sales.
“Although we would love to share our food with everyone, we have to keep the farm going. Being a farmer is economically challenging,” said Linda Davies, office coordinator for Winter Green Farm. “It’s really nice to be back home in our local market.”
Although local farms continue to grow and sell quality produce yearly, community demand also plays a large roll in increasing the growth of organic and sustainable farms in the area. Lane County Farmers Market, which is comprised of over 160 growers and producers, continues to encourage and embraces the power of the community yearly. Businesses such as Agate Alley Bistro, Holy Cow, Capella Market and The Kiva carry a large range of local produce and products.
With the combination of local farms committed to growing their produce in responsible, organic and sustainable ways, community members acknowledging the importance of these practices and retailers listening the demand for such products, Eugene continues to be a leader in the organic farming movement.