Fourth Annual Fall Fundraiser Sept. 17

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Spring Farm Day – May 7th

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Sustainable Living Skills Spring Class Series!

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The White Oak Organism – By Stephanie Magoon

IMG_2157A lot of words can be used to refer to White Oak, but I continually find that many of these terms fall short of doing justice to the scope and multidimensionality that creates this incredible place.

It assuredly is a farm; there are annual row crops, grazing animals, big compost piles. But that doesn’t mention White Oak’s epic, yet somehow immaculate, permaculture design; the irrigation system that gravity feeds the farm beds from water-catchment ponds which welcome swimmers on hot summer days; or the unbelievable plant diversity that blooms all season in the form of outrageously beautiful flowers, medicinal herbs, unusual fruits, and pollinator-feeding beneficial insects.

It’s also definitely an education center, as we’ve led a myriad of kids programs this season from preschool, to school visits, to a week-long summer farm camp. Being a part of these programs sheds light on kids who get to see food growing and who harvest their own lunch from the land for the first time. Their energy is totally transformed with awe and wonder upon experiences such as stepping into the forest for a hike or eating a healthy, fresh meal that they find they actually really like.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I find particularly incredible is how these layers of highly functional systems and touching experiences weave together to create the White Oak enterprise. Looking at it from my perspective as an intern, I’m getting to learn about sustainable, regenerative agriculture; I’m gaining skills from teaching to homesteading to animal care, I’m getting a crash course in rural living and the resourcefulness that it necessitates, and so much more. The life I’m enjoying here only exists the way it does because of so much energy that has come before me. The buildings on the land I spend time in every day were built by folks that were part of natural building workshops who now have skills to create their own structures. The trees I’m eating delicious fruit from were cared for by interns from many previous years who can now grow their own food. The beautiful forest that I live in has been host to eco-forestry workshops, sending more forest stewards out into the world. All this energy from the past has gone into creating this ever-moving and growing place, continually fed in the present, and spreading more beauty throughout the world in the future.

imageSo when I think about White Oak, as a farm, an education center, a petting zoo, a permaculture paradise, a rich forest, a heartful community, it seems that in all its multi-layered, multi-functional magic, this White Oak organism’s aliveness rests in the kinetic energy of what can happen when people join together to create an abundant, thriving world.

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Permaculture Design Course March 2016!

pdc flier 4Check out the website for more details!

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2015 Year in Review

IMG_2185Once again the rains have returned to the hills and valleys of southern Oregon, blessing us with crystal clear air, vibrant fall colors and trickling springs and streams. Perhaps due to my northwest roots, I never lose appreciation for a comforting blanket of morning clouds or the sound of pounding rain on the barn’s metal roof. The rains nourish the soil and plants, and at the same time renew our own spirits for the beginning of another year and exciting new projects to come!

2015 was a year of great challenges, and yet due to an extremely positive and productive crew and supportive community the Farm had its best year yet. For the third year running, southern Oregon was hit with extreme drought and heat, leading to our most limited irrigation season ever, and several weeks of wildfire smoke in August. In addition, our local water official informed us that our decades-old pond was never properly permitted by previous owners of the property and thus requires over $1,000 in fees and permits. Finally, our summer intern was forced to cancel her internship on day one due to family problems.

In response to these challenges, we have renewed our dedication to drought-proofing the Farm and sharing these techniques through several new adult workshops next year. Additionally, our tireless crew of Brian Geier, McKenzie Woolley, Stephanie Magoon, Sarah Shea, Casey Wright and Nicole Kraft more than made up for any labor shortage by going above and beyond in their dedication to the Farm’s many programs! Thanks to the crew, abundant sunshine, and well-metered irrigation, the farming season was extremely productive, with great harvests for the Farmer’s Market, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, seed contracts, and our local food bank.

IMG_1716 Our children’s education programs were also very successful, as highlighted by our growing partnership with College Dreams (see page 3). Education Coordinator Brian Geier oversaw an expanded preschool and overnight school-visit program that allowed more youngsters to spend quality time at the Farm. One highlight of the season was an overnight visit from the third grade class at Medford’s Madrone Trail Charter School in May. Twenty-five students spent their time harvesting and cooking from the garden, exploring the forest, tending the chickens and goats, and sleeping out in our new wall tents. Summer Farm Camps were again a big hit with participants, and Spring and Fall school visits were offered to twenty classes from throughout the Rogue Valley thanks to our partnership with Rogue Valley Farm to School. Overall our children’s education programs continue to be the heart of our mission at White Oak Farm, and we are always gratified by the smiles, laughter and insight that children bring to the Farm each day.

IMG_0262As the farming and education seasons come to a close, I find myself extremely excited thinking about the year to come and the great things in store for 2016. Thanks to several unexpected grants and donations and an energized staff, we are embarking on an ambitious program for next year. First, with the help of our former intern and local forester Josh Weber, we have begun a maintenance, bridge building, and signage project for our trail system. We are also planning to improve our education infrastructure by constructing covered outdoor eating and classroom spaces partially from poles harvested as part of the trail project. Our drought-proofing efforts will also continue with the installation of several new water storage systems and efficiency measures. Finally, we are developing several new adult education programs, including a 12 day Permaculture Design Course in late March, and a sustainable living skills series to be offered throughout the year. Check out our website for updates on these exciting new programs!

 

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Fall Fundraiser – September 26th

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Spring is Here!

Spring has sprung in Southern Oregon and that means School Visits and Farmer’s Market Season. 

We are excited to welcome ten local schools out to the farm for Harvest Meal visits this April and May.  Thanks to a great partnership with Rogue Valley Farm 2 School, these visits are free to participating classes!

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The Williams Farmer’s Market is also up and running earlier than ever before     thanks to abundant spring sunshine and warm temps.  Local folks come check it out Mondays from 4-6:30 at the Williams Grange.

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2014 Year in Review

With the shift in the seasons from the frenetic energy and abundance of spring and summer to the wet and quiet days of fall and winter we at the FarmIMG_3485 can again turn our thoughts to reflection on the year that was and dreams for the year to come. 2014 was in many ways a year of pleasant surprises: despite a widely anticipated major drought we had a very productive farming season; our educational programs were supported by an unexpectedly large and stellar group of volunteers; and our Residential Education Infrastructure Campaign was fully funded and will be finished by the end of the year.

The year began with abundant sunshine and warm winter days, great for working outside in short-sleeves, but not so helpful in accumulating snow pack to keep the creeks flowing in our dry southern Oregon summers. As predicted the year was extremely dry by historical standards, forcing us to use all of our water-conservation techniques. These included: drip irrigation, early planting and harvest dates, crop selection, mulch, and careful monitoring of weather reports. Fortunately we were blessed with warm early spring weather that allowed spring plantings to get of to a fast start while the soil still retained winter moisture. Our Williams Farmers Market started three weeks early in May and ran straigIMG_3436ht through to Halloween with good crowds and enthusiastic support for our produce. Our cooperative CSA, the Siskiyou Sustainable Coop, which includes produce from White Oak and six other farms had its largest membership ever, with 240 families receiving a weekly box of produce from June-October. Perennial crops such as raspberries, pears, grapes, and strawberries also thrived despite the drought due to deep roots, mulch, and the resiliency of being well established. As the season came to a close, we experienced an unusually wet October, rekindling hopes for the return of plentiful moisture to our valley next season.

One resource that was not lacking in 2014 was volunteers. Arielle Spayd, Lior Alon, Christine Evans, Paris Conwell and Casey Wright supported our Children’s EIMG_3308ducation Programs by helping to lead school visits, cook with pre-schoolers, teach summer campers, and even flip burgers and pour beer for our Fall Fundraiser. This crew was an immense help to Andrew and the rest of the staff in providing fresh energy and excitement for our record number of children’s programs in 2014. In addition to these volunteers, our three interns, Christina Lubarsy, Rion Glynn, and Danielle Purkey, were present throughout the year, eagerly leading children, harvesting veggies, manning the market booth with Sarah, and helping to keep the goats fed and milked. They each brought a unique and uplifting energy to the Farm that helped make the year a big success.

Another element of our Education program that experienced a big boost this year was our Education Infrastructure. Started by former Co-Coordinators Dave Majzler and Julie Pacholik in 2013, the Residential Education Infrastructure Campaign included grant and donor funding for four new wall tents, hot water hand washing stations, drinking fountains, and upgraded indoor and outdoor kitchen facilities. These projects will be fully completed by the end of the year, and have already improved the experience of school groups and campers, while also allowing us to expand our residential programs to include greater numbers of children across a wider spectrum of weather conditions. Thanks to our donors, the West Family Foundation, and the Fourway Community Foundation for making this project possible!

Every year is filled with ups and downs as the natural and human cycles of life on a farm ebb and flow. This year we were truly blessed with many high points and few low. I am continuously amazed at the bounty of the land, the brightness of the children, and the perseverance of our staff. Thanks to all who helped make 2014 a great year!IMG_3370

 

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2nd Annual Fall Equinox Fundraiser

white oak fall equinox fundraiser 2014

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