2013-03-10 Grab your food by the horns!

Grab your food by the horns!

Early this month I had the pleasure of attending the OSU Small Farms Conference in Corvallis and came with a few nuggets of appreciation and excitement about the happenings in this great green state. A diverse bunch was found in the workshops and lobbies; from organic to conventional, rural and urban, really tiny to quite big, along with a strong and proud contingent of those who farm in the Calapooia Valley. Also present were the ‘Greenhorns’ and ‘Greyhorns,’ which formed the theme of the event and keynote subject. Greyhorns are the farming elders, wrinkled and spirited, generous and knowing. Greenhorns on the other hand, are the new generation, vibrant and sharp, eager and open.

Small farms – those being formed from scratch by Greenhorns and others long nurtured by Greyhorns – are at the center of community resiliency in a time when the unsustainability of the factory farm model is being exposed. With the immense cost of industrial food to our local economies, spirits, environment, and community fabric, the operations that are still being called ‘lifestyle farms’ by cynical institutions and financiers are in fact a great hope in providing fullness to the places we live. The celebration of the Greenhorns’ emergence and the Greyhorns that nurture them can be heard very loudly right here in Linn County.

Folks in a rural community like Brownsville can appreciate one common thread that I observed among the conference attendants – farmers are really an intelligent bunch. From collective problem solving to downright weird experimentation, it is truly amazing and instructive on many levels to see what creative solutions can be applied by crafty and methodical growers. The character of a farmer can’t be confined to any one discipline, this jack-of-all-trades approach being vital to the hardy and well-rounded presence that these men and women stand with. It seems we can all take page out of that book.

Lets be proud of living in a place that puts honest support behind this fundamental cause of the small farm, and lets find more ways to show our Greenhorns and Greyhorns that we care about locally based, food with a face.

Reporting from the ground,

Gabriel Woytek

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