The Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project was part of two farm tours this summer. The first was held Saturday, July 30 at Stalford Seed Farms in Tangent, Oregon and the second was held on Thursday, August 4 at Open Oak Farm just south of Crawfordsville. These tours are part of a continuing effort to inform the public, other farmers, and bulk buyers–distributors, chefs, bakers, restaurants–about the Bean and Grain Project. Foremost it's a chance for the public to see what crops are being grown, what these crops look like in the field, and who the farmers are that are involved in this work. The tours are also a wonderful opportunity to socialize and enjoy various dishes made from local beans and grains, including fresh bread made from wheat grown and milled in the Willamette Valley.
This year's tours highlight two significant steps forward for the Bean and Grain Project and the rebuilding of the local food system. Stalford Seed Farms has been the production leader in organic wheat and beans since the beginning of the project, and over the winter farm owner Willow Coberly spearheaded the creation of Willamette Seed and Grain LLC, a milling and distribution collaborative involving Stalford Seed Farms, Sunbow Farm, and several other Corvallis-area farms. The building of infrastructure–in this case milling and seed cleaning–around a collection of farms–farms supporting farms–is exactly what the Bean and Grain Project has been pushing for since its inception.
The work at second-year Open Oak Farm represents an equally important step forward. Open Oak is the home of Andrew Still and Sarah Kleeger's Adaptive Seeds Company. Their expansion of test plots of bean and grain varieties and the collection of seed is a wonderful addition to the work done by Harry MacCormack at Sunbow Farm. Along with Jeff Broadie and Kasey White at Lonesome Whistle Farm, the Bean and Grain Project now has two significant bean and grain seed producers and three farms actively exploring as many varieties as they can. The adapting and saving of seed and the exploring of new varieties is a tremendous help to farms that are hoping to produce beans and grains and yet do not have the time to experiment. Both the WS&G, LLC and Open Oak's Adaptive Seeds Company represent important milestones for the Bean and Grain Project. Thanks to both of these farms for their pioneering efforts and for giving the public the opportunity to see this work first hand.
Stalford Seed Farms Tour: For the third straight year, Stalford Seed Farms, located just south of Tangent, Oregon on McLagan Road, hosted a farm tour. The farm is owned and operated by Harry Stalford and Willow Coberly. Willow has been a leading advocate for and participant in the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project since its inception. Six years ago she was the first grass seed farmer to step forward and experiment with growing transitional dry-land beans and hard red wheat. Once entirely a grass seed operation, this 6000-acre farm is now using nearly a third of its farmland for food production, including more than a thousand acres of conventionally grown soft winter wheat and 288 acres of certified organic crops. One hundred acres of that is organic hard red wheat. Click here for complete report.
Open Oak Farm Tour: In contrast to the large-scale operation of Stalford Seed Farms and its Greenwillow Grains milling facility, the second farm tour was at Open Oak Farm, a second-year, 30-acre farm owned and operated by three young farmers, Sarah Kleeger, Andrew Still, and Cooper Boydston. Open Oak is also home to Sarah and Andrew's Adaptive Seeds Company, so along with providing product for their bean, grain, and winter vegetable CSA, Open Oak gives Sarah and Andrew, both well-known for their work in the Seed Ambassadors Project, the space to grow out the seed they've collected during their world travels and to build the inventory of their seed company. At any one time, they'll have more than 400 different varieties of beans, grains, and vegetables on the farm either in the ground or as starts. Click here for complete report.
As always, feedback to this webpage is welcome. If you attended either of the tours, feel free to offer corrections or additions. In the end, the Bean and Grain Project meetings, farm tours, and these articles are meant as a forum about growing beans, grains, and edible seeds as field crops in the Willamette Valley. Discussion and the sharing of ideas are themes central to the project. Click to email.
Special thanks is extended to The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and The Ten Rivers Food Web, Hummingbird Wholesale and the Evergreen Hill Fund of Oregon Community Foundation for their continued support of the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project.