Monday, July 13, 2009

Really Farming

There are scores of people who love our farm. I think they see my vision of an open farm that allows you to wander and discover. No signs telling you what to do or not to do. If you find a field you like -- pick it. If you find a 200-year old oak tree with grass underneath -- stop and have a picnic. If you see a sprinkler going on a hot day -- run through it. In the winter when many of the walking areas on the island are closed for hunting, you can still take a walk on my farm. The gate always open. So open, in fact, we removed the gate last year.

But through this difficult Farm Stand Permit process with the county - one that has opened up comment from all sides of the fence - I realize that our farm is not universally loved. Last evening reading the on-line comments on an Oregonian article about the permit, I could see we are also passionately disliked. I try not to be pained by the comments, but they still do hurt. These folks see the scores of people wandering my farm as a negative. They criticize me for having come up with a model of success. They preferred it when they could drive by my farm back in the beginning and think to themselves "He'll never make it" or "He knows nothing about farming." What is most bothersome about these comments is the notion that I don't really farm and that the farm is a "front" for some sort of event business. Well, let's talk about how much I do farm:

10 acres of strawberries
6 acres of raspberries
2 acres of boysenberries
3 acres of blackberries (Marions & Katatas)
8 acres of corn (5 plantings)
6 acres of beans (6 plantings)
15 acres of pumpkins
6 acres of pickling cucumbers
1 acre of beats and carrots
1 acre of broc., cauliflower, and cabbage
2 acres of lettuce (8 plantings)
1 acre summer squash
7 acre Corn Maze
4 acres Blueberries
2 acres tomatoes
3 acres of flowers
25 acres of wheat harvested by a neighbor
10 acres of rotation ground
3 greenhouses full of early and late season stull

All done with me and four farm workers. You have to say this is one hell of a front for an event business.

My farm continues to grow. The success of the farm events has contributed the financial resources to only buy the front 80 acres of the farm but start leasing the back 80 acres. The additional financial resources are contibuting to additional investing in more farming. This is exactly what the legislature intended when they came up with the rules regarding Farm Stands. They intended to give farms the ability to succeed so they can farm more.

Finally I am not happy with the decision made by the county (found on our website Yes, the beloved concert series has been saved. A corn maze with the ability to create an outdoor haunted house is allowed. Children's birthday parties are a code violation. Sweet farm to plate weddings with couples exchanging vows under an oak tree celebrating with food and flowers picked at the farm are not allowed. We're considering whether to appeal.

Farmer Don

P.S. Thankfully -- there will be a concert this Thursday. (


Gwynnthiere said...

We already did the sprinkler one :) Couldn't resist the day we were out there picking raspberries!

David Kilpatrick said...

Your farm is wonderful Don, and I think you should appeal, what better place to celebrate love?

Don said...

I'm glad you mentioned you were bothered by the comments on Let's just say my partner and I have a lot of experience with the site, and it's notorious for being plagued by truly nasty regular commenters. The company even has to employ editors to go through and delete racist and other offensive remarks from time to time. Journalists who contribute to the site are used to grossly unfair abuse. I think the tone of the comments is very unrepresentative of readers as a whole and certainly of Portlanders. So please don't let that bother you. Your farm is much loved by everyone I've mentioned it to.

Christi said...

You are a great guy with an amazing vision. When something good is happening there will always be people against it.

Kathy said...

I offer you my support. I've been to your farm faithfully for many years, traveling from Vancouver. Your farm has always offered a lovely day of respite from the city and my children have fond memories, as do I. We will continue to come and support you and are spreading the word for others to do the same! Stand strong in your convictions.

Jeanine said...

My son will turn 4 next month and has been looking forward to hosting his birthday party at your farm for almost a year! Berry picking there is one of his favorite activities that he really wanted to share with his friends. I just booked the venue on Sunday. He will be so disappointed. I took the time to read the decision document and want to understand how they could rule that birthday parties do not promote loyal customers and sale of farm produce (exactly as the festivals do). Unlike weddings, we are actually paying for the opportunity to harvest and purchase farm produce. It makes no sense. I truly hope that you'll consider appealing.

Having said all that, we love your farm and appreciate all that you do. Thank you!

alice said...

The comments left on the OregonLive website are a bunch of anonymous nut heads that love to rant about anything they can, and be as rude as possible. What you are doing is amazing, you are very supported.

Pook said...

Well, this "Portland yuppie housewife" has been coming to your farm for more years than the snarky commenters have been able to complete sentences (oh, wait...there still seems to be some trouble with that.) We have always appreciated your efforts to keep the farm balanced on the razor's edge between the farmstand so small that there are nothing but a few baskets of lonely veggies, and the so-commercial carnival atmosphere that sent us away from the Pumpkin Patch and its ilk. We've watched our boy and his friends nibble strawberries, explore the corn maze, scramble onto the wagon, find frogs peeping in the pumpkins and ramble through the fields with no destination in mind. These memories will stay with them -- and with us. Keep up the good work -- and appeal that decision! See you soon for more berries...

Pam Hogeweide said...

My family and I have been coming to Krugers Farm since the first year it opened. We have experienced many wonderful family memories in the "Mud Maze" :) and getting pumpkins every year. Also, we have enjoyed flower picking, fresh vegetables, great sense of hospitality and local pride in agriculture and yes, music and community events.

I think there was a time in America when folks gathered together for music and meals and celebrations and there was no concern about permits and such. It is absurd that a birthday party or a wedding would be deemed an illegal gathering on someone's property. It's outrageous.

I hope you'll appeal if you are able to.

Meanwhile, if I bring my husband and kids in August to celebrate his birthday and ten of our friends just "happen" to be at the farm at the same time, would that be ok, or will we get a ticketed for eating cake in a criminal manner?

Krugers is the best.

(and hey, as a blogger myself, I choose to delete snarky, abusive comments from my blog because my blog is my digital living room. Lexus' comment would be immediately deleted from my blog because L is being rude and abusive. I would not allow that in my home. I don't allow it on my blog, my cyberhome. So just saying, you got my vote to delete that b.s.)