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 www.krugersfarm.com). 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.
P.S. Thankfully -- there will be a concert this Thursday. (www.krugersfarmmarket.com/summerfun)