A new season is upon us in Southern Oregon with rain in the skies and leaves on the ground. Chanterelle and Matsutaki mushrooms are fruiting in the forest and peas and oats are sprouting in the farm fields as we reflect on 2013 and look forward to a new year just around the corner. This year was filled with many challenges, especially the effects of three weeks of heavy wildfire smoke during the middle of our farming and farm camp season; yet in some ways the obstacles made our successes that much sweeter.
One of the highlights of the year was the stellar performance of our experienced and dedicated staff. Dave Majzler and Julie Pacholik returned for a second year of directing children’s programs, Andrew Simmons and Kristy Newell returned as volunteers after completing the internship program in 2012, and our new interns Casey Wright, Jewels Daly, Madison Rudd and Christine Evans hit the ground running in their first year on the farm. This group made farming fun and productive, and we again had a great year of producing fruits and vegetables for the local community through the farmers market and CSA programs. Sarah Shea Starr added to our agricultural diversity by planting a greenhouse full of Hawaiian ginger, which proved a surprise and a treat to customers and farm visitors alike.
The children’s education program blossomed this year under the passionate direction of Dave and Julie. The farm hosted 20 elementary school visits, 17 weeks of preschool for eight local 3-5 year-olds, two week-long camps, as well as residential programs for “at risk” youth from Grants Pass and high-school students from Portland.
The following classes joined us on the farm in 2013:
Medford Montessori 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades,
Woodland Charter School 3rd grade, St. Anne’s K-8th grade,
Rogue River High School 9th and 10th grades, Madrona 1st, 2nd grades,
Excel Christian School 1st-5th grades, Sugarloaf Community Association K-1st grade,
Dome School K, Jerome Prairie 3rd, 4th grades, Williams 4th, 5th grades,
Evergreen 2nd grade, Applegate 2nd, 3rd grades, Ft. Vannoy 3rd grade,
and the Portland Waldorf High School.
School Visits were offered for the second year in partnership with Rogue Valley Farm to School, an amazing Ashland-based organization that helps connect farms and schools all over southern Oregon. Summer Farm Camps were also a big hit with participants, though we were sadly forced to cancel a farm camp in August as a result of unsafe air quality due to wildfire smoke. We apologize to the families that missed out on a week of fun on the Farm. However, our education programs still served more children in 2013 than in any other year.
In other farm news, we planted new raspberry beds, improved signage in our children’s garden, finished the cob farm stand, expanded our goat milk and cheese production, and raised a healthy flock of turkeys. 2013 has been a wild ride, and one that we will not soon forget. Thanks to all who helped make it a big success!