The Berry Best

When I spoke with Carol Harroun about visiting Blue Acres I thought I would have to be persuasive; many farmers feel their land does not look at its best in the fall after harvest.  Carol, on the other hand, was enthusiastic.  “It’s beautiful this time of year with the red leaves on the berry bushes. Besides, ” she continued, “you will see I live in a place with a fantastic view.”DSC_0165

And she was right. I also believe that farms can be beautiful any time of year, so it was not a hard sale. DSC_0148

Carol knew, when she was growing up in Portland, that she was NOT a city girl. Her pathway was not straightforward and she spent years working in a box factory, but eventually she met Doyle. He knew right away that his future was with Carol and in time, after several years along Oregon’s southern coast, they ended up on about 5 acres in Carlton where his mother lived as she aged and needed help. Doyle has also passed on now, but his love for his wife is evident in the rambling farmhouse and buildings. DSC_0177

With over 3200 Berkeley and Collins blueberry bushes, the hillside is currently ablaze in red. The plants bear fruit in July into August.  She also has frozen blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and marionberries as well as apple and peach slices for sale. Carol sells her fruit at the Saturday Farmers’ Market at the Grange in McMinnville, at the Sunday market in Lincoln City in the summer, and at the farm.   DSC_0159

In addition, Blue Acres has about 135 chickens which produce about 5 dozen eggs each day.  She also provides some fruit and eggs to area restaurants.DSC_0167

The farm once had a working sawmill, but all that remains at this time is the foundation. An irrigation pond offers wildlife habitat to migrating waterfowl.  DSC_0169

Blue Acres currently is home to two horses. One, Mr. Fancy Dandy is a 15-year-old green-broke gelding who is available for sale to a good home. Please make inquiries.DSC_0172

Carol’s right. It is beautiful.

Blue Acres “It’s The Berries”       Carlton, Oregon         503-852-6221


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What Does a Local Thanksgiving Mean

locavoreIf you are a locavore you make an effort to eat foods raised by local farmers. Pretty easy in the summer when the farmers’ markets are bursting with fresh produce. What does it mean at this time of year and through the winter and spring before those markets open once again?

turkeysI ordered my turkey about two months ago from Dancing Faun Farm in Sheridan. They are regulars at the McMinnville Thursday Farmers’ Market and are currently offering a biweekly delivery service to Mac for eggs and chicken.  Their turkeys dressed out HUGE so they offered half turkeys to us with normal size ovens. Understand that a locally raised turkey is considerably more expensive than a grocery store bird. Understand also that the locally raised turkey is free of chemicals and added water. It has been humanely raised and allowed to free range in pasture for the months it needs to grow naturally without hormones. It is worth the extra money, but you need to budget for it.

sweet-potatoesA number of local farms raise sweet potatoes and yams. You can find one near you with the information posted in Local Harvest. My suggestion is to call now, ask for availability and then make an effort to support those farmers all year. Many offer food through Yamhill Valley Grown but also have CSAs and a few have farmstands.

Several towns in the area have winter farmers’s markets that offer fresh produce and food from local farms. Each Saturday from 10-2 there is a fresh local farmers’ market located inside the McMinnville Grange 1700 Old Sheridan Road, moments off the the intersection with 99WSouth. In Forest Grove Adelantes Mujeres and the Dairy Creek Food Web will be hosting two more Fill Your Pantry markets on Sundays, November 23 and December 21 at the Times Litho Building located at Pacific and A Street.  Local food producers bring in produce, meats, honeys, jams and other treats that will suit your tastebuds.dairy creek food pantry

The idea of heading to the supermarket to stock up for the Thanksgiving meal is easy. There you can buy anything you want and perhaps its source and contents are really not that important to you. But consider this: the whole concept of a harvest festival, a moment to stop and offer appreciation for all that we have surrounding us, is best served by sourcing those foods locally. Not only will you be continuing in the footsteps of the original concept, but you will be supporting your local economy, something we all need to think more of especially in this season when we spend so


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You Thought the Polls Were Closed!

The recent GMO labeling vote once again raised a concern: how do we know what we’re getting when we buy food??

Yamhill Valley Grown is a way for consumers who want to get fresh ripe produce or locally raised meat or other wonderful local food products. We ask the farmers to describe their farming practices so you can be an informed consumer.ELFlogo

Our business model has been to ask the local farms to provide information about what they have available at a given time. That item is then listed on the YVG website Farmers Market for you to order. It then gets delivered to your door!

PolldaddyThis model works well for some consumers but others, even with emailed reminders that it is time to order, can’t always get to it in time.  So, we are asking you to participate in a short survey so we can better provide the local food you want and help the local economy.  Please take a few minutes and complete the Poll.

At least with this kind of poll, you can get what you want. knowyourfarrmer


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What It REALLY Looks Like

Growing up I knew what a farm looked like. After all, it was in my story books.chariklia-zarris-storybook-farmI grew up in the part of New Jersey which is NOT the Garden State…it is the paved state, so I had very little first hand experience. My maternal grandfather had a chicken farm when I was very small, but he retired by the time I was five or six, so my memories are skimpy and relate to fear of having my feet pecked off, as if chickens are notorious for that. No red barn, no silo, no acres in crops, though.

As I visited more and more farms in West Virginia and Oregon in the past four years my view was usually a one-time thing. There were a few places I visited more than once and that presented some information of what a farm looks like at various times of the year, but until this temp job, I had not been able to see the changes that occur.

In only two months I have seen (and been part of) this2014-08-22 10.27.00

changing to this through hours of hard work of weeding and more planting. 2014-10-05 11.51.14

I have seen this  2014-09-17 08.52.45

change to this as the growing season ends and the ground needs to be prepared for next year.2014-10-19 13.24.28

We consumers really have no idea the amount of work it takes to bring the food we crave to the market. Please take a moment and thank your farmer. You do have one, don’t you?knowyourfarrmer

Actually, we have several: 1 for our CSA (about to end next week), 1 for our beef, 1 for our chicken and eggs, 1 for our lamb, 1 for our pork, and now, this wonderful woman who hired me and really tries to give me the easy jobs-I will eagerly be purchasing food in the future from her, too.keep calm


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Local Food for Your Plate

Jan Ellings and her family had a dream. All the years when work took them away from Newberg, the concept simmered gently on the back burner.  They owned land for 30 years but it wasn’t until they returned to Oregon about ten years ago that the farm at Chehelem Flats started becoming the reality it is now.

2014-10-18 11.17.10They always wanted to grow food for the local community. In the past two years the pace has increased with the opening of a farm stand at 17733 North Valley Road,  2014-10-18 11.52.32The farm has 80 acres with some leased out for grass seed production, but over time the food production has been and will continue to increase.2014-10-18 11.16.27

Most of the produce sold at the market is grown in a quarter-acre garden plot with additional land planted with lavender, black currants and figs. Everything is grown without chemicals but Chehelem Flats is not certified organic at this time. Several small hoop houses  provide space for plant starts in the late winter which helps them control the varieties. 2014-10-18 11.22.59 They raise a lot of heirloom produce with amazing flavor, not found in local grocery stores.

2014-10-18 11.23.29In addition, their kitchen was recently certified commercial so they will be processing produce and are testing the market now with some jams and preserves for sale.2014-10-18 11.18.48






The store also has other items including other foods produced in Yamhill County and other nearby areas of Oregon as well as handmade items from nearby crafters. 2014-10-18 11.20.13Stop by when out wine tasting on the weekends for lunch items as well as more to be enjoyed at home.2014-10-18 11.52.09

2014-10-18 11.45.06Store Hours
Year Round Sat – Sun:  10am – 5pm                                                                                                                                                      Fall Holiday Hours (Nov 21 – Dec 19)Fri – Sat – Sun:  10am – 5pm

Chehelem Flats Farm Market                                                                 17733 North Valley Road, Newberg, OR 97132                                                   

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Silly Me Smart Me

I did something silly at my age. I took a part time temp job, helping at Bethel Springs Farms north of Rickreall. The farmer, Michelle Burger, looked at me and asked me if I knew it was hard work. Oh, yes, I assured her, thinking of all the farmers I had met in West Virginia and now here in Oregon. Intellectually I know it is hard work.  She then asked me why I thought I could do it. Well, thinking of several people, I know there are some people my age and older farming. And thinking of a few others, I know there are people my weight farming. I assured her if I did not injure myself, I would be there each and every day until the rains came and her need for an extra pair of hands ended.2014-09-17 08.52.38

The first day we picked beans. The farmer and the other helper kneeled or leaned over, bending at the waist. I knew my arthritic knees and my lower back would never forgive me, so I semi-squatted and soon discovered my quads and my hamstrings were a bit angry at my decision. It definitely was mind over matter to walk anywhere for the next couple of days.  Ibuprofen helped. So did lots of MSM and glucosamine and heat and ice.  And being stubborn.

I2014-10-05 08.03.22 talked to Beth Ann Earl of Noni’s farm in Huntington, West Virginia as well as Stephanie Pauley who farms in Ohio and Aimee Figgatt also in West Virginia.  They all told me to sit down and scoot along. Compensate for my age and body. Stretch.  I have two pairs of jeans that may not be wearable out in public after this job, but I can pick beans with the best of them now. LOL  The last of the beans which have been drying on the bush need to be harvested and laid out inside the high tunnel, joining other beans, some popcorn, and the onions.

2014-08-31 13.23.10The farm is organic, which means no herbicide. That also means an amazing crop of pigweed.  Not wanted, but it turns out I’m a pretty darn good weeder. Dubious honor as the garden is 200 feet long and a kazzilion rows wide. I also scooted along much of this process too, carrying the weeds to the ends to load on to the 4-wheel to bring to the compost pile. Fun driving the Kubota!.2014-08-29 12.20.13I’m pretty proud how wonderful that garden looks now.2014-10-05 11.51.14

I started working a couple of months ago and it was pretty warm.  Recently we had 2 days of light rain, just enough to split the tomatoes. The forecast looks like this may be the last summer weather, as the rain is showing daily for the following week.

At that point we’ll shell the beans inside and then she’ll probably let me go. I will be looking for a desk job next. 2014-10-05 09.56.31

Don’t get me wrong. This was a great experience. After visiting farms in West Virginia and really getting to know many of the farmers supplying The Wild Ramp Market, I had a great respect for the work they do. Now, understanding how it really truly feels, my admiration has soared.

We consumers take the food that appears in the store for granted. We have abundant supply of an amazing selection of food. If you buy from the supermarket, items come from all over the world. If you value the effort and want to support the local economy, you purchase from local farmers and you follow a more seasonal approach in your diet. Either way or a combination, realize this:

Our small farmers are finding it harder and harder to make a living. Industrial farming does not look like the story book version of a farm. Industrial farming typically grows one kind of crop, year in and year out, feeding the soil with chemicals to try to restore the nutrients. Small farms may be conventional, using chemicals, but many make an effort to farm in the time honored way, whether certified or not, organically with a variety of crops and rotation of the land with cover crops helping restore the nutrients to the soil for the next edible crop.2014-09-17 08.52.45

You can tell the way I lean. I love my local farmers. I was happy with all we could find to eat in West Virginia and feel abundantly blessed here in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  You can eat well too. Without the sore muscles.

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The Signs Are Clear

Even if the sky is not.2014-09-17 08.56.54

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Several years ago I heard an announcement on local radio that one of the former football players at the university who had gone on to the Pros was sponsoring a pick up of packaged food for the next day, Thanksgiving. He stressed how people who are comfortable never realize that the hungry are all around them, even their neighbors.

About an hour later the doorbell rang and one of my neighbors asked me for a ride to pick up the food. It was true……they would not have had a Thanksgiving celebration without this gift.

Those of us who are able to shop at the supermarket, make a weekly visit to the farmers market and whose food insecurity may be disappointment about the lack of a specific kind of food at home, do not understand that there are many of our older citizens and many of our children who have REAL food insecurity because they have no food at all.

YcapThis hole is addressed by some government agencies and many churches.  In McMinnville, for example, the YCAP food bank is supplemented by several churches who provide hot meals every day of the week. It is unusual that an individual attempts to address the problem, but Tyler Boggs and his Heart 2 Heart Farms is trying.heart-2-heart-farms_logo

Tyler made arrangements about a year ago with area store and produce distributors to pick up “tired” produce to bring back to the farm to supplement feed to his animals. He quickly saw that much of the food was in very edible condition and made the arrangements to permit the food to go to people. DSC_0005

Thanks to a successful crowd funding program, Heart 2 Heart Farms now has a new truck to collect the food and bring it back to the farm. Fridays are the day for this activity and it takes all morning to collect available produce. Many people are already at the farm waiting for the truck’s return mid afternoon.DSC_0010

Some of collect food for themselves and their families, others are there to bring food to a group who have no transportation, and still others are picking up food to supplement food banks and other area outreach feeding programs. DSC_0013Heart 2 Heart Farms uses volunteer labor for most of its activities. Tyler welcomes all who are eager to learn and want to help give back to the community. If you can, go spend a few hours there to help sustain this kind of program.

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Learning the Land

Water rights, even before this time of climate fluctuation, has always been the key to successful farming in a place where summer rain is sparse. Finding 8.5 acres adjacent to the South Fork of the Yamhill River not only eased that issue but the serenity the flow provides is often a huge magnet to Aren Hinley.  He enjoys knowing that the deer and coyotes have a protected habitat and also enjoys the trout when he makes time for fishing.DSC_0051

Aware that farming practices can also affect water quality, Aren has located the Yamhill River Farm vegetable plots on 1.5 acres close enough to get a strong water supply but far enough that there is no bank erosion nor run-off into the river. His farming practices using no chemical fertilizers or herbicides also provides food healthy to eat and limited water impact.DSC_0021

Three large gardens and several greenhouses provide growing space for a vast array of produce including tomatoes, zucchini, squash, beans, kohlrabi, eggplant, peppers, carrots, amaranth, beets, and many herbs including basil, cilantro, parsley and so much more.DSC_0018DSC_0013DSC_0012aDSC_0011

Aren explained that in the four years since the land was purchased learning the land has been a key to increased production. One garden plot is rocky; one is sandy; one has some minor variation in the topography so changing the  orientation of the rows was a key.DSC_0010

The farm also has constant projects. Since his job is in Portland, work on the farm has to be planned carefully.  This year he completed a large walk-in cooler which will help maintain the quality of just-picked produce until delivery.  He hopes that the income from the farm will enable the purchase of a refrigerated box van to maintain cool temperatures during transport.DSC_0044

Yamhill Valley Farm sells produce at the McMinnville Farmers’ Market on Thursdays, has a CSA, and delivers to several restaurants in the area including Red Hill Provençal Dining and Tina’s in Dundee, Recipe in Newberg and A Cena in Sellwood.DSC_0004

Yamhill Valley Farm also has some Berkshire-Large Black hogs and several kinds of chickens that provide eggs.DSC_0058

Aren Henley  Yamhill Valley Farm                                                                                           1050 West Main Street, Sheridan, OR             


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Food Porn

Oh my…..luscious bodies….eager to get my mouth on this!!DSC_0022


Or how about these?DSC_0026DSC_0029







Or these? Each of us gets excited by different things. Fresh produce definitely makes me feel…..HEALTHY!DSC_0020

I feel very very fortunate that I went to visit Home Grown Foods in McMinnville the beginning of June,  David Keller-Rode still had room in his CSA so Graham and I joined. For $15 a week we get a LOT of food. This week we received what shows in the photo and some mixed salad greens that are just off to the left. 1 share

The ability to purchase freshly picked ripe produce at an extremely reasonable cost is one HUGE benefit of this time of year. Whether you belong to a Consumer Supported Agriculture endeavor like we do, or make your weekly purchases at your local farmers’ market, you are realizing the benefit of great nutrition at the best prices of the year.


Amazing what can be done in an urban backyard with determination and a lot of effort. Thanks, David!!


Home Grown Foods can also be found at the McMinnville’s Thursday Farmers’ market where Alex Freeman’s fermented foods are available; I can attest the sauerkraut and kimchee are fantastic!


Posted in agriculture, community, consumer demand, CSA, farm, fruit, garden, land use, local economy, Local food, local food stystem, nutrition, oregon, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments