Agricultural entrepreneurship, planning class set

Craft3 and the North Olympic Development Council are sponsoring a course to help participants develop a detailed agricultural business plan.

The classes will be conducted 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Oct. 10 through Dec. 19, at the WSU Classroom, 97 Oak Bay Road, Port Hadlock.

“A unique combination of guest speakers, in class discussion and assignments, this course dives into the business side of running a farm, from sales and marketing to financial management,” according to the course website. “At the end of the course, you will have the core elements of a business plan to guide your farm forward.

Topics include: Licensing and permitting, market analysis and trends, branding, operations, personal planning, accounting and bookkeeping, finances and taxes, and insurance.

The cost of the course is $260 per farm. Pre-registration is required.

For more information and to register, go to the course’s website.


Home Orchard Society to host ‘All About Fruit Show’

Aspiring orchardists can learn more about tree fruits at the All About Fruit Show.

Sponsored by the Home Orchard Society, the show offers an opportunity to learn more about the many varieties of fruits that grow in the region, including apples, pears, quince, grapes and kiwis.

The show will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20-21, at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, 694 NE Fourth Ave., Canby, Ore.
Also on hand will be a fruit identification team to help identify unknown types of fruit.
Custom-grafted fruit trees will also be for sale.

Admission is $7 per person or $12 per family (members pay $5 each or $10 for families). People who join the orchard society at the door will be admitted free.

For more information go to the society’s website.


OSU sets ‘Living on the Land’ course

The OSU Extension Service Small Farms program and the Linn Soil & Water Conservation District is sponsoring a series of classes to help  landowners manage small-scale livestock farms.

“Living on the Land” will be conducted on four consecutive Thursdays — Oc. 4, 11, 18 and 25 — at ZCBJ Hall 38704 N. Main Street Scio, Ore. All classes will be held from 6-8 p.m.

Tuition is $25 per person for the entire series. Scholarships are available.

Topics include weed management; soil health and water resources; pasture and grazing management; and mud, manure and composting.

For more information and to register, go to the event’s website.

 


Treasured Sunrise Acres dairy goes goat-only

Treasured Sunrise Acres, since late April a solely goat-sourced dairy after selling its Jersey cows, is growing its revenue — from milk and from a non-GMO feed grain venture.

The Parma, Idaho, business sells goat milk and its own formulation of feed. Milk and feed segments continue to grow strongly, largely on consumers’ increased interest in healthy foods, owner Debra Jantzi said.

“The grain business was started last year, in the summer, and after we sold the cows, we had time to devote to it,” she said. “So it started really expanding.”

The feed mix is consumed by the goats on-site or sold to small-scale owners of animals and chickens, and to breeders. The business is building a larger grain mixer.

Annual revenue from goat milk increased each year since the business was certified to sell raw milk in 2010, Jantzi said. “And we are seeing a huge expansion in goat-milk demand.”

More consumers buy goat milk for health reasons lately, including some who are allergic to cattle dairy, she said. “It is a very broad customer base that buys goat milk in Idaho.”

Jantzi and her nine children founded Treasured Sunrise Acres. Expansion has been a consistent theme.

Before they sold about eight Jersey milking cows and seven replacement heifers earlier this year, they were raising additional replacement goats. Recently they have been grazing 158 goats. In mid-September, with kidding in full swing — the business sells some of its baby goats — headcount was around 170.

Treasured Sunrise has plenty of room to expand the goat herd and will do so as demand warrants, Jantzi said. The business offers raw and pasteurized goat milk.

The Jantzis started the business on a leased Fruitland site of six acres but soon moved to 53 irrigated acres off U.S. 95 in Parma. There, they increased the barn’s square footage by around 50 percent, adding milk processing and storage areas as well as an office. Outside, they added pasture, fencing and other improvements.

Jantzi took out two USDA Farm Service Agency loans, one for the property purchase and the other for improvements. Financing totaled $300,000.

“We wanted to grow and could not on our own,” she said in an FSA news release. “This family-owned dairy has provided my children a lifestyle where they can be together, develop their skills and have fun. The operation is fluid, constantly changing and adapting.”

http://www.treasuredsunriseacres.com/


Association helps new vineyard succeed

ROSEBURG, Ore. — After 25 years in the real estate and residential housing industries in Central Oregon, Robin and Lesa Ray transitioned to a much different lifestyle in southwestern Oregon.

The couple enjoy wine and had a desire to become part of that industry. After numerous trips along the I-5 corridor, they purchased property along the North Umpqua River and on an adjacent bluff overlooking the river a few miles northwest of Roseburg. An old walnut orchard was removed from the riverside land and Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Riesling, Viognier and Gruner Veltliner winegrapes were planted. On the hillside property, oak and madrone trees and blackberry vines were removed and Pinot noir grapes were planted.

“Our motivation to buy this property was the North Umpqua River and we wanted enough land to eventually grow a vineyard,” Robin Ray said. “Our interest was to develop the land into its very best potential. Grapes were a better use than hay or pasture.”

Cooper Ridge Vineyard was then established. The business was named after the couple’s son, Cooper.

The 13-acre vineyard produced its first crop of grapes in 2011. The harvest volume has increased since then with the maturity of the vines.

The Rays said they had no farming background, but they were eager to learn. Lesa Ray enrolled in the viticulture program at nearby Umpqua Community College. Robin Ray worked and learned from a hands-on approach in the vineyard.

“Fortunately, grapes are hardy plants,” he said. “They survived in spite of me.”

The newcomers to the wine industry explained they also learned plenty from other members of the Umpqua Valley Winegrowers Association.

“The association is instrumental in helping new people who are coming into the area,” Robin Ray said. “And we had looked at other operations that had succeeded, what those people had done. We did our due diligence.

“People here realize if they can continue to grow grapes and make quality wine, it will help the Umpqua Valley be recognized as a significant industry for wine,” Robin Ray explained. “People understand if they help each other be successful, the whole area will grow and benefit.”

In 2012 and 2013, the Rays took their grape harvest to the Southern Oregon Wine Institute facility at Umpqua Community College to make their wine. By the 2014 harvest, Cooper Ridge had its own winery. A year later a tasting room with patio seating that can accommodate up to 120 people and a guest house for overnight visitors were opened on the Cooper Ridge property.

Charlie Kidd is the winemaker at Cooper Ridge. He previously worked at wine businesses in California, Texas and North Carolina. Lindsay Eggleston is the tasting room manager.

“This is our third-year anniversary for our tasting room and production and I think we’ve done pretty well for the short time we’ve been in business,” Robin Ray said. “With 500 some members in our wine club, I think we’re one of the fastest-growing wine clubs in the state.”

Cooper Ridge focuses on making premium wines and selling them locally and to its wine club members. It produces just over 3,000 cases of wine a year.

“Each year our quality of grapes gets better and better,” Lesa Ray said. “This is such a perfect climate for growing grapes with the warm days and cool evenings.”

The Coopers said the different varietals that are grown in their vineyard and in the Umpqua area as a whole makes the region attractive to wine lovers.

“There are more varietals and wines in this AVA (American Viticultural Area) than most anywhere else in the world,” Robin Ray. “People have taken notice of the grapes and the wine we grow and make here. The Umpqua Valley has become pretty popular because it gives people the opportunity to try other varietals.

“We want our guests, our visitors to have a wine memory that they can take home with them,” he added.


OTA continues efforts for organic checkoff

Down but not defeated after the USDA nixed an official organic research and promotion program, the Organic Trade Association is forging ahead with efforts to establish a voluntary checkoff program.

The organization last week pledged not to walk away from an industry-invested program and has formed a steering committee to coordinate and lead the efforts.

“The Organic Trade Association recognizes great demand for coordinated organic research and promotion, and the organic sector is ready to work together on innovative solutions that will have key benefits for organic,” Laura Batcha, OTA executive director and CEO, said.

There is a critical need to educate consumers about organic, to provide more technical assistance to help more farmers transition to organic and to promote the organic brand, she said.

OTA lost its long battle for an organic checkoff when USDA pulled the plug on the formal process to establish a checkoff in May.

After reviewing nearly 15,000 comments from industry stakeholders, including farmers, USDA terminated its proposed rule for a checkoff citing a “split within the industry in terms of support” for a checkoff.

The No Organic Checkoff Coalition, representing 6,000 organic farmers across the country, led the charge against a checkoff — contending a federal, mandated checkoff was not the right solution for the growing domestic industry.

The coalition found many faults in the OTA proposed checkoff, primarily that it was more likely to promote the needs of large processors over those of family farmers.

Jim Gerritsen, an organic farmer and president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association — which was an early member of the coalition — told Capital Press on Wednesday OTA represents large-scale corporate processors.

“So that’s who was going to benefit from the checkoff anyway. So they might as well go to them directly,” he said.

“OTA is becoming pretty inconsequential. Their direction has nothing to do with organic agriculture. Their unwillingness to stand up for organic integrity is the real cutting-edge issue here,” he said.

The organization just wants to see an increase in organic sales and doesn’t care how that comes about, he said.

He doubts OTA’s efforts for a voluntary checkoff will get any buy-in from organic farmers.

“I can’t imagine any organic farmers earning their living from organic farming signing up for this. It’s going to be the corporations,” he said.

And with corporations paying for the program, he doesn’t think much of the funding will go to research for organic production, a priority for farmers, he said.

If those corporations wanted to support domestic organic farmers, they could make a pledge to buy U.S.-produced organic crops and not import dubious, so-called organic crops, he said.


Volunteers harvest corn for Puget Sound food banks

About 100 volunteers in Snohomish County, Wash., harvested approximately 8,750 ears of corns for Puget Sound food banks Sept. 7, reviving a gleaning tradition that had been dormant for a couple of years.

Dan Bartelheimer of Sno-Valley Farms grew the corn on about 3 acres. “We’ve been doing something like this for eight to 10 years,” he said.

The last couple of years, however, there were no volunteers to harvest the field. Bartelheimer said the Rev. Jim Eichner of the Holy Cross Church of Redmond, an Episcopal church, organized volunteers for an unprecedented turnout. Eichner also oversees the Food Bank Farm.

“It worked the first year we tried it, and we’re definitely going to continue it,” Bartelheimer said.

The harvest gave people a taste of farming, he said. “It’s always fun for the first half hour, hour.”

Bartelheimer, president of the Snohomish County Farm Bureau, said other farmers in the county are interested in hosting gleaners at the end of the harvest.

“I think something like this creates a lot of goodwill between the farmers and community,” he said.

The Snohomish Conservation District helped organize the event.


Organic Farm School taking applications for 2019 class

The Organic Farm School on Whidbey Island, Wash., is accepting applications for an eight-month training program that will begin in March for people who aspire to own or manage a small organic farm.

Students learn about organic agriculture on a 10-acre farm about 30 miles north of Seattle. The tuition is $6,500, and students put in full days in the field and in classrooms.

“What we want our potential students to know is that farming is an honorable profession and that we want to get them prepared to do it for the long term,” the farm’s executive director, Judy Feldman, said.

The school started a decade ago to train Whidbey Island residents for a community supported agriculture program. There are, however, only so many people on Whidbey Island. The school now draws students from around the country.

This year, Feldman said, there are students from Arizona, California, Iowa, Montana and Pennsylvania. They range in ages from 20 to 43. Some are getting started and some are looking to make a mid-career change.

The school takes applications into December, but caps enrollment at 12 to 15, so Feldman encouraged applicants to apply by Thanksgiving. This year’s class, which graduates in November, is a small one, six students.

Limiting enrollment keeps running the farm from being too easy, Feldman said. Students put in 8- to 10-hour days during the week. “Most farmers would say, ‘That’s easy,’ ” she said. “We want them to get at least a taste of a farmer’s workload.”

The school covers crop and livestock production, business planning and direct marketing.

Students grow vegetables, and seed and cover crops and raise poultry, sheep and pigs. They sell products through a community supported agriculture program, a farmers’ market, grocers and farm stand.

Students learn skills such as basic mechanics and carpentry, operating equipment and greenhouse propagation. The school’s production manager is Raelani Kesler and the classroom instructor is Aaron Varadi.

“Our goal is to expose students to as much as possible,” Feldman said.

For housing, students have the option of renting a shared room in the farm’s five-bedroom house. Rent is reasonable and the house is a two-minute walk from the farm, she said. Not everyone chooses to live in the house, she said.

Scholarships are available. More information and applications are available online at organicfarmschool.org.


UI Parma Fruit Field Day showcases research

Art and Setsuko Church, who are seeking new varieties for the small-scale fruit operation they run in Weiser, Idaho, had plenty to look at Sept. 7 during the Fruit Field Day the University of Idaho hosted at its pomology orchard and vineyard north of the Parma Research and Extension Center.

Hundreds of people turn out each year at the event to learn about new pomology practices and to sample that many fruits.

Art Church said he’s interested in adding just about any stone fruit that grows well in southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon, but especially new cultivars. He’s also interested in pistachios.

He is encouraged by what he has seen of this year’s harvest, now in the late stages. He and Setsuko as of early September continued to harvest melons and had completed stone-fruit harvest.

“It has been a very good year,” Art Church said. Peaches, nectarines and melons look good. Compared to last year, they’re bigger and lack winter damage.

Jerry Henggeler of Henggeler Packing Co. in Fruitland, Idaho, said there was some excess heat this year, “but for the most part, we had very food volume and very good-quality crops.”

Freezes this year were mostly minor, said Henggeler, past president of the Idaho-Oregon Fruit & Vegetable Association.

“We were hit early in apricot and cherry crops,” he said. Those first-blooming crops ended up short in volume, but all others this season fared well — including peaches (many varieties), plums, pears, apples and nectarines.

Harvest weather has been good so far, without inclement days to slow work, Henggeler said.

A shortage of labor is becoming a serious problem, he said. Mechanization is growing in orchards and packing plants.

Essie Fallahi, UI pomology program director, said horticulture is increasingly important as the world’s population grows.

Scientists, through their own work and in collaboration with peers in different areas, aim to help growers produce high-quality food in greater volumes at a lower labor cost, he said.

High-density orchards are producing larger fruit of better quality, and using less land and water, due in part to UI-pioneered irrigation advances that apply precise amounts of water a tree needs, Fallahi said. Onions, hops and other crops also are thriving with help from this system, which is efficient and cuts chemical leaching into groundwater.

Fruit Field Day showcased current research and production advancements; work on the best rootstocks for apples, peaches and nectarines most suitable for the region; tree and fruit irrigation, nutrition and pest management; orchard and canopy research; and alternative crops such as quince, almond, walnut, jujube and haskap.

Fifth-grade students at Parma Middle School attended.

“It’s a good introduction for the kids to the resources we have,” math teacher Brian Hutton said.

The Idaho town of more than 2,000 is home to many farms and agricultural businesses.


Goat education day helps farmers ‘Get Yer Goat’

New and veteran livestock farmers can learn more about goats during an upcoming daylong series of classes.
Called “Get Yer Goat,” the classes are presented by the Oregon State University  Southern Oregon Research & Extension Center. The event will be 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept., 22, in the center’s auditorium, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point, Ore.
This year, in addition to dairy goats, a beginning class on meat goats will be offered.
Attendees can choose two classes in the morning and two in the afternoon, or they can choose two classes in the morning and goat cheesemaking classes in the afternoon.

Cost:  Adults, $35; Youth, $20; Cheesemaking $50
For more information, go to https://extension.oregonstate. edu/smallfarms