My Journey with Organic Certification
In 2015, Livin’ Spoonful began a journey they had always dreamed of: to grow certified organic produce for their raw, sprouted crackers. Sue Nackoney, co-owner of Livin’ Spoonful, built upon her 15+ years of organic farming experience and began her farm through the Headwaters Incubator Program in Orient, Oregon, run by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. Farmers lease land and share resources such as farm equipment, greenhouse and washing station. They learn how to manage soil fertility, weed and pests, irrigation, and erosion control, as well as get support developing a farm-to-market business plan. The community replicates what long-ago farming communities did best – help and encourage each other, throughout the seasons.
Sue added a little something extra to Gentle Rain Farm. In her first year at Headwaters, the farm received Organic Certification with Oregon Tilth, the first enrollee to do so. As she writes in My Journey with Organic Certification, it was no easy task. Beyond the certification process, Sue and her family learned the subtle nuances of farming in a new area during a record drought their first year. Aphids partied in the kale. Cabbage moths got inside the row covers and used them as their own personal nurseries. And Canada thistles thought they, too, were to be included in the harvest.
The Bounty of the Harvest
But the bounty of the first harvest outweighed the many months of planning, nights of worry about vulnerable seedlings, and sun-baked fields. Nevertheless, Sue harvested nearly 3000 pounds of vegetables. 90 lbs cilantro, 100 lbs basil, 180 lbs jalapeno peppers, 430 lbs kale leaves and 1250 lbs tomatoes – straight from the fields into the cracker mixes. And all from 1/3 acre!
A farmer’s life is not glamorous, as Sue’s Carharts will testify. But it is satisfying, especially when you begin with the sprout of an idea. A farmer nurtures it, helps it grow, and turns around to share those sprouts with others.
Stay tuned for more seasonal updates from Gentle Rain Farm!