Know Thy Farmer: Organic and Almost Organic Around Corvallis
Lately, there’s been a resurgence of interest in organic farming — a centuries-old healthy living practice. The practice means that foods are grown without the use of synthetic based fertilizers or pesticides. It also means no Genetically Modified Organisms permitted.
Organic Farming is a part of a broader perspective of sustainability; it includes protecting soil quality by using organic material and encouraging biological activity, providing crop nutrients by cultivating soil microorganisms, and promoting nitrogen fixation in soil using legumes as a rotation crop.Weed and pest control on organic farms are based on methods like crop rotation, biological diversity, natural predators, organic manures and suitable chemical, thermal, and biological intervention.
Oregonian farming applies to meat as well. Raising farm animals in humane ways, supplying nutrition, suitable environment and care for the larger environment, and conservation of natural habitats and wildlife are all part of it.
As a result of those practices, food becomes more nutritious, and doesn’t contain antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides that endanger our gut bacteria. Additionally, a restorative balance is preserved in the environment of the entire farm.
Organic regulations put forth by the United States Department of Agriculture recognize four categories of organic products: crops, livestock, processed products, and wild crops. To become certified organic, a business must first undergo a certification program. USDA-accredited agent/certifier reviews farm’s application, inspects the farm to review the records and tests water and soil for chemicals.
If a farmer wants to go organic, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program provides technical and financial assistance during the three-year transition period into organic farming. The business must continue to adhere to the required organic practices to remain in compliance.
Organic Farms in Benton County
Those who frequent the Farmers’ Market in Corvallis or shop at First Alternative Co-op are familiar with the names of many local farms. The ones that are certified organic typically mention this fact in their name or in advertisement. To make things easier, we’ve listed a few here.
Gathering Together Farm in Philomath dates to 1987. At present, it offers produce at Farmers’ Markets in six towns including Corvallis, wholesale to local restaurants, and contribute to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. For an awesome eat-in experience, they operate an on-site Farm to Table restaurant. You can also stop by the farm and buy produce at their farm stand on Tuesdays through Saturday.
Available at the local Co-op, Sunrise Organic Farm is owned by Paulo Martinez-Cortes, who has been part of the local organic crowd for decades. They have a large selection of produce available through their farm as well.
Eloisa Organic Farms is a dream-come true for two passionate growers, Virginia Herrera and Zenon Ramirez. In 2018, they started to grow produce on their own and now 13 acres serve as their farmland. With five people working at their farm, they sell their produce to stores and restaurants in Corvallis and Portland.
Denison Farm became certified organic in 1988. It has recently changed hands and its name to Riverland Family Farms. The business, operated by Tal Singh, Inder Singh, and Tyler Grushkowitzwith continues as certified and is run now by three brothers-in-law. Their produce includes over one hundred varieties of fruits and vegetables. The Farm’s fruits specialties are strawberries, raspberries, and tayberries. Customers can order online at the Co-op, or at the Farmers’ Markets in Corvallis.
On Hwy 20 between Albany and Corvallis there is Midway Farms, selling produce, eggs, baked, fermented, and otherwise prepared food, and many gluten-free items. The farm also offers workshops, Farmer-in-Training for youth, Day Camp, and yoga practice.
Kings Valley with its rich soil is home to the RainShine Family Farm, in existence since 2008. This family farm is owned by Rachel Ashley and Elias Silvernail. The farm grows fruit, nuts, and vegetables, and is currently in transition to fully organic certified farming as their previous organic certification only included selected crops.
Goodfoot Farms owned by Beth Hoinacki, also in Kings Valley, has operated for the past 10 years, selling vegetables, berries, and other fruit to customers at the Farmers’ Market, wholesale to the Co-op and restaurants, and as CSA boxes. The farm is not only certified organic, but also certified biodynamic.
In transition to become organic is Mary’s Green Gate Farm on Garden Ave in Corvallis. Owned by Mary Eichler and located less than a mile past the Melon Shack, the farm sells grass raised beef and chicken, eggs, and apples in the fall at their farmstand.
Since the transition to certified organic farming takes effort and time, several Benton County farms opted to not be certified, but still practice most organic principles of farming. These farms do not use synthetic pesticides or herbicides but may have occasional influx of not certified organic media, such as forest floor materials or farm manure.
Davis Family Farm, located on Hwy 20, is where you can take a hayride, pick pumpkins, and buy hydroponic veggies. Owned by Russel Davis, the farm has not seen pesticides for the past 15 years; it offers u-pick strawberries (the short season starts around June 1) and blueberries.
The Farmers’ Market
Corvallis Farmers’ Market is the place to meet many of the operators of these farms. On an average Saturday, there will also be a stand from Beene Farm from South Corvallis and Crooked Furrow Farm.
You’ll find Krazy Woman Ranch selling llama wool and chicken eggs, Thyme Garden specializing in herbs, seeds, unique plants, and catering, and White Oak Farm specializing in ornamentals.
Then look around for Veun’s Garden, Dirty Girl Acres, My Pharm from Monroe, and Oven and Earth from Philomath.
To top it off, Totum Farm in Corvallis, owned by Jessie and David Blume specializes in pasture raised poultry, woodland pork and grass finished beef.