Adelante Agriculture Students Visit Gales Meadow Farm
On a fine Sunday in early March, students from Adelante Agricultura, the sustainable farming project of Adelante Mujeres, spent the afternoon visiting Gales Meadow Farm in Gales Creek. Farmer owners Anne and Renee Berblinger have been assisting with farming curriculum for Adelante Agricultura for the past few years. The farm visit was an opportunity for the students to see and ask questions about an operating small-scale organic farm. They were able to view newly germinated seedlings in hoop houses as well as overwintering crops of garlic, onions and kale in the fields. Anne and Renee also showed the students some of their innovative methods, such as the use of roof-top solar panels for all the farm’s electricity needs and the use of recycled materials such as shower doors and wooden pallets to raise seedlings off the ground to make them easier to reach and to protect them from slugs. They also pointed out plants that are commonly identified as weeds, such as chickweed, that they sell via direct marketing to chefs in Portland. It was both inspiring and sobering to see the farm and to hear how the Berblingers have been able to establish their small farm over the years. They gave an honest answer about the need for start-up capital to invest in a farm. As Renee mentioned, about 80% of small scale farmers have off-farm income to supplement their farming operation. However, they also said that if one is hard working and passionate about organic farming that earning a living from a farm was definitely a possibility in Oregon. Hard working and passionate about farming, are two qualities our students have in abundance and the farm visit to Gales Meadow Farm was an excellent motivation as we prepare for the 2010 growing season.