Take two young women from the city (one from Portland, one from San Francisco), add a course at Portland State University in Urban Farming, mix with concerns about the way food has become less healthy, season with hands-on learning combined with overseas travel through WWOOF and you begin to understand the foundation of Vibrant Valley Farm and the energy behind it.
Kara Gilbert and Elaine Walker met at college and then had so many parallel experiences it became a natural next step to join forces and see what they could grow, both literally in the ground as well as a business to bring healthy food to people living in Yamhill County and Portland.
With the availability of some land first in Carlton last year and now south of McMinnville, they have developed Vibrant Valley Farm to grow enough produce to support a CSA and several restaurants, as well as flowers to area restaurants, a few vineyards and to consumers through New Season and PastaWorks food stores in Portland.
Kara and Elaine now manage 3 acres where they can easily and intimately know the conditions of the soil and the plants, taking care of any pests easily. Vibrant Valley Farm growing practices follow or exceed organic requirements set out by Oregon Tilth, using ecological principles to keep it all balanced.
There currently is room in the CSA for a few more subscribers. If you cook at home and enjoy learning about new and flavorful produce, consider supporting Vibrant Valley Farm this season. The season lasts from June 4 through Halloween and provides a weekly box of mixed produce enough to feed four. If your household is smaller, talk to some friends about sharing. The season cost of $675 works out to $30 a week, a great price for the volume of fresh ripe vegetables you receive. The concept of Community Supported Agriculture is for a consumer to support a farmer’s effort. By prepaying for the food you will eat, you provide an economic boost to the farmer’s budget to cover the costs incurred during the growing season. Then, during all those weeks you do not pay for your bag or box of food, just enjoy new flavors or new ways to prepare old favorites.
Elaine and Kara have a strong passion for education about growing food, especially in urban settings where a crack in the sidewalk may present an opportunity for food. They don’t know exactly when or how their life will evolve to include the education process again but they know it is in their future. They are comfortable letting the growth of Vibrant Valley Farm and its pathway remain organic in its development.