by Lynn Miller with photos by Eric Grutzmacher and the author
Click here to watch the video.
Saralee Lawrence and Ashanti Samuels are Rainshadow Organics, a burgeoning, certified organic operation which fully embraces the tenets of mixed crop and livestock farming. At its core is a full-force market garden. The entire farm comprises one hundred and eighty acres situated in the magnificent, high desert region of central Oregon and subject to a painfully short growing season (some years just slightly over 2 months). Established in 1999, the operation has steadily grown to include 15 acres of grain, 12 acres of market garden (with 2 acres under plastic) and 60+ acres of winter pasture. Here you will find pastured poultry (200 laying hens plus up to 700 broilers a year), farrowing sows and up to a hundred feeder pigs at any one time. A herd of 100 Corriente cattle (augmented with leased grazing), some horses, a milk cow, goats and assorted other animals are included. The farm’s marketing structure includes a 100 member CSA, plus attendance at two regional farmer’s markets, and supplying local supermarkets and 6 restaurants. Brand spanking new for the summer of 2017 will be an ambitious farm “stand” and restaurant. Saralee commented that organic certification was difficult but necessary. Last year they had a dearth of tomatoes and peppers, this year (and with the new ‘store and kitchen’) they are looking forward to doing quite a bit of fermentation.
For the growing season this is an intense, hands-on farm and the owners have answered the need elegantly and unselfishly by employing 7 paid interns through the Rogue Farm Corp program. In this way the work gets done while Saralee gets to share her farming skills and fulfill a passion for teaching.