Type: Animal/Vegetable/ Education
Years in operation: 5
Annual revenue: < 10k
(Average over last three years)
The Branch Road Farm is a diversified organic and biodynamic farm on 73 acres in the South Willamette Valley, just outside of Cottage Grove, OR. Here at the farm, we are committed to our vision of embracing the root meaning of agriculture: a haven of cultural activity, social and artistic life as well as food production; all in a day and age when food security and building mutually supportive relationships within our communities is essential. We run a Kids and Teens Farm to Table Cooking Class Series, where students in this Farm Food Program gain a better understanding of what food is through harvesting the ingredients themselves, then learning from local chefs how to prepare it in our licensed farm kitchen. Through teaching our youth both where their food comes from and how they can grow and prepare it, we empower them to become more self-reliant in providing food and possibly income for themselves and their families. We also have adult classes on everything from cheese making to sustainable animal husbandry. We raise crops on 2 acres, have a 30 head commercial goat dairy herd, a commercial meat sheep herd and the fun livestock guardian dogs and donkeys. We also make value-added products such as sauerkraut and other ferments, cheese and pesto. We are a family farm of 4 plus 1 employee.
Inside the Farm
How is your approach to farming different than other farms in the same category?
Our approach to farming comes with a successful 20yr farming history, where now we are on new land and with a new direction. Our biodynamic practices and our dedication to youth education and skill building helps fortify a strong bridge between our land and the community. Getting kids involved with food is the most powerful way to help them connect with the environment, their health and their communities. We also see the strong benefit of having our on farm commercial kitchen for use with our classes, our value-added products and as an asset as a rental kitchen for other farmers or local entrepreneurs looking to make and sell their products.
How does your different approach contribute to a long-term profitable growth strategy for your farm and other small farms like yours?
We see a long term profitable growth strategy for our farm as well as others in the community outreach. Building strong mutually beneficial relationships between farmers, land, consumers and communities is crucial. We have been working closely with our local school district to initiate a after-school program to start in the fall of 2016. The Farm and Food Youth Program will get kids out to the farm, harvesting, milking, learning farm skills and in particular learning how to cook and prepare farm fresh meals. We will host field trips for our local elementary and middle schools and also host more in depth sessions for our local high school students. Our community and our school district is strongly committed to engaging the youth and directing funds into these experiences and the skill building.
How would you specifically use a Mortgage Lifter Lift or Mini Lift?
A Mortgage lift would specifically be put into building our bathroom facilities. This is required to continue to host groups to our farm and we need to transition away from renting something each time. A Lift would also go towards creating a more efficient irrigation system so that our time can be used more effectively in growing and running our programs and our farm.
Please share why you are so passionate about your farm and/or farming in general.
I can barely contain my passion for the land that we live on and the community within which we reside. Having diverse topography that allows for diversified farming is crucial, and feels so damn good as we can really begin to see the importance and the viability of marrying sustainable farming practices and farm productivity with the conservation of wildlife and wetlands that too can truly support not only preservation, but also give education on the biodiversity of our region and the need to protect and enhance it. I love working with children and helping to awaken within them the awe that is naturally there for land, animals and creativity with food. I feel that this work and this land in particular is a way to truly stand up for one another and our future together in this ever changing and growing world.
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