Andre and Sheila Jaillet had a simple idea: find a flat piece of land in Oregon’a Willamette Valley and raise food for their family. Sheila had had a backyard garden growing up in Nebraska, but Andre’s experience in the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles did not include growing food. They turned to books and started.
Seven years ago they found a farm south of McMinnville and Growing Wild Farm was born. They had three small children then and one more since. Sheila can’t help but smile, thinking of her concept of how it would come together and how the reality of what they have been able to achieve may be different but the reality is pretty wonderful.
Together they have learned the seasonal changes and how the abundant water on their land presents challenges. For example, Andre grabbed some drier time early this winter to till and prepare one garden with hilled rows and now, with the recent snow and rains, they wait for the usual drying out that is needed. And the lower land will probably be ready in June or maybe even early July; the land is fertile and things grow well there once it can be planted.
Inside the high tunnel salad mix and root crops are doing well, ready for harvest soon and Sheila will once again start selling at the Saturday market at the McMinnville Grange. They also supply to a small group in a CSA; family and long-time friends for the most part.
Chickens provide eggs and meat. A few guinea hogs also will provide additional meat; meanwhile they help prepare some of the farm for planting. An orchard includes apples, pears, cherries, and plum with blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries and strawberries also growing well.
Andre is also a woodworker and his beautiful multi-wood cutting boards sell well at the Saturday Market in Portland. He finds those sales as well as the farm produce income offer their family a chance to be together. They have plans to put in a few more hoop houses but not expand production much more. They highly value the time with their children and the life they have built.