To farm in Central Oregon is to be met with extremes: the extreme beauty of the mountains, rivers, and wide-open skies is balanced by an extreme and unforgiving climate. Drought, frosts in August, and sudden, severe thunderstorms are just a few of the challenges that are a normal part of a farmer’s job in Central Oregon, and HDFFA is proud to be part of a community that helps farmers bounce back from unpredictable events where it can.
The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance recently partnered with a family foundation to establish a Resilient Farmer Fund to support Central Oregon farmers and ranchers. In June of this year, the fund provided critical emergency grants to four Central Oregon farms impacted by the extreme weather event in Jefferson and northern Deschutes counties on May 30, 2020. HDFFA is also establishing a Farm and Ranch Resiliency Award to recognize innovative practices that reduce risk due to changing climate, market, or production conditions that will be awarded in 2021.
The vision for the Farmer Resiliency Fund is to recognize farmers and ranchers that have innovative practices that allow them to quickly recover from difficulties. This Fund is also an opportunity for community members to donate to a cause that supports sustainable farming practices, and connects them to their food.
May: pummeled by giant hail.
August: corn higher that you can reach!
Sakari Farms, located in Tumalo, sustained 80% crop loss and an estimated $14,000 in property damages. Their whole field had been planted only a week before the storm, and was meant to provide crops for Warm Springs Tribal members, Oregon Farm to School participants, and local community food donations to the Giving Plate and WIC/SNAP beneficiaries. Sakari also runs the Central Oregon Seed Exchange (COSE) which provides seed to 5,000-7,000 Deschutes County residents and the Bend Lapine School District.
May: greens shredded in the field.
August: abundant, healthy lettuce.
Four Acre Farm, located in Madras, lost part of the greenhouse that is used to grow their seedlings and lettuce during the winter months. The wind, water and hail also damaged most of their squash, tomato and pepper plants. They had just planted most of the seedlings a few days before the storm hit and lost sales due to not having crops to sell at the market. Estimate of their loss of sales was $2,500 with property damage totaling at least $3,000.
Crown C Farms, located in Terrebonne, lost their entire apiary (bees). The wind knocked over all 21 hives, and in the cold rain they lost all their queen bees. By late May, it was too late to buy more bees. They will replace 10 colonies next year and split them the following year, recouping a total of 20 colonies. The loss represents not only the honey that they could not sell, but also their pollinators, and this will adversely impact their total farm crop yield.
May: crops washed away.
August: fields full of food.
Rainshadow Organics, also located in Terrebonne, had their summer crops shredded by hail and sustained significant flooding in the field, which compacted the soil. All of their lettuce and Asian greens were ruined for their wholesale markets, a critical early-season source of income.
Farming and feeding Central Oregon is a team effort. HDFFA is proud to help connect generous members of the community with farmers who could use a hand while bouncing back from adversity. To contribute to the Resilient Farmer Fund, please drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.