This season, the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of Adelante Mujeres, is heading out into the fields to learn more about the farms and farmers who bring us the delicious produce every Wednesday from 4-8pm on Main Street in Forest Grove. Make sure to follow us on Facebook to see all of the beautiful photos and adventures we embark on!
This week we visited Square Peg Farm, where growing the freshest foods from organic-only practices is their #1 priority. Farmers Amy Benson and Chris Roehm run the farm and we chatted with them about their backgrounds, their passion for organic farming, and their beautiful and challenging farm.
In 2003, Amy, a native Wisconsinite, started 40 acre Square Peg Farm in Forest Grove. It soon became more work than she could handle alone, so she put the word out that she was looking for another farmer to help. Enter Chris, a native Pennsylvanian interested in learning more about agriculture after having become a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) member of a different farm. The rest is history, rich with certified organic produce and more!
|Amy Benson and Chris Roehm|
The couple grows a variety of certified organic vegetables and fruits ranging from squash and cabbage to currants and pears. Amy used to run a CSA program; however, nowadays Square Peg sells only at farmers’ markets and directly to chefs in Portland. On the farm, we found a few four-legged friends including "Spot," the dog, who was attempting to catch some critters during our visit. As we continued our exploration, we learned that, for a long time, Amy followed a vegetarian diet, which meant they didn’t raise animals on the farm. Over the years, though, Chris started raising chickens, then pigs, and now they’ve decided to take on the challenge of two steers. The animals help fertilize the land as well as provide sustainably raised meat for customers. Amy and Chris rotate their annual vegetable crops with cover crops such as millet and buckwheat grains, which also help feed the animals -- completing the cycle of maintaining nutritious soils.
|Amy and Kaely, FGFM Manager, say hello |
to some four-legged friends.
As if they weren't busy enough caring for their crops and animals, certain wildlife populations keep Chris and Amy even busier defending their harvests' safety. Nutria reside in the pond that borders the farm and sometimes sneak into their fields to steal a few ears of corn or other treats. The gophers go crazy for apple tree roots, which they find particularly scrumptious--an enthusiasm that neither the trees nor Chris and Amy share. After visiting Square Peg farm, these nuisances seem to pale in comparison to the stunning view of Mt. Hood standing just beyond their fields and the fresh air blowing sweetly around us. And, it all just seems worth the challenge for the duo to provide fresh food to their community.
Pictures and story by: Carrie Skuzeski, FGFM Summer Intern_________________________________________________________________________________