2023 has been a great year on the Farm of growth, new ventures, and a return to normalcy after 3 years of Covid challenges. We have been blessed with a very pleasant mix of a wet winter, mild spring and relatively cool summer, all leading to a great year for plants and people. On the Farm, seed crops and produce for the food bank and schools have thrived with the extra moisture and moderate temperatures. This year we are growing resina calendula, yukina savoy mustard greens, velvet queen sunflower, bush delicata squash, orange zinnia, and showy milkweed all for seed.
The native nursery is also poised for the biggest year yet, with almost 100,000 trees, shrubs, and wildflowers growing in three greenhouses on the Farm. We are especially excited and honored to be growing 25,000 plants for the largest post-dam removal project in US history on the Klamath River. This tribal-led restoration project will commence in 2024, and we currently have 8 species, including Coyote Mint, Yampah, Goldenrod, Penstemon, and Balsam Root, growing on the Farm to contribute to this epic undertaking. Many thanks to the Karuk, Yurok and Klamath tribes for spearheading this decades-long effort to bring salmon habitat back to the tributaries of the mighty Klamath River!
2023 has also been an awesome year in the school gardens at our four partner schools. Thanks to a grant from the Oregon Department of Education, Sarah Shea and Darien Aubinoe have expanded and improved our partnerships with Williams, Applegate and Ruch schools, and also started a new program with the Hidden Valley High School Special Needs class. We have especially enjoyed the opportunity to introduce students to many locally grown and produced foods through our “Tasting Tables” program. This spring we offered fresh pesto, goat cheese, sourdough bread, and ferments, as well as fruits and vegetables, all from local small businesses (including White Oak) to the students at each of our partner schools. Oregon is a national leader in the Farm to School movement, and we are very proud to be a part of the effort to incorporate outdoor education and healthy eating into our local schools.
2023 also saw the return of overnight Farm Stay after a three year COVID hiatus. We welcomed 20 students this summer for a week on the Farm of fun, food and friends. It was especially gratifying to have an incredible group of old and new campers and to witness their ability to collaborate with each other in the outdoor kitchen, on the talent stage, and in the fields and forest.
There is still a long way to go before this year is in the books, but it’s off to a great start. And now we look forward to a strong finish: harvesting seed crops, tree fruit and produce, bundling native plants for delivery, hosting fall school visits, getting back into the school gardens, and putting the Farm to bed with cover crops and mulch for another (hopefully) wet winter. Thanks to our great crew, supporters and partners for our many blessings and opportunities, and may all our gardens ripen and nourish people this coming harvest season!