A few years ago I was advocating for some pro-agriculture legislation at the state level. I wrote a blog about how great it would be for Oregon’s farmers and for our industry as a whole. A friend of mine reached out and told me that she was confused about why I was working so hard at getting this passed at the state level, she thought my efforts were wasted because,
“We should save these state level fights for things that effect everyone, not just for farmers. This is not an issue of statewide concern.”
To say I was shocked was an understatement, so I took a deep breath and asked a few simple questions…when she last had a meal. I asked what her clothes were made of. I asked her to look around her and told her that Oregon agriculture employs 1 in every 12 of the people she sees. I wanted to help her see that while only 2% of the population might be a farmer…farming reaches everyone, statewide and beyond!
Which is why I was so excited to see the new campaign that American Women in Agriculture launched this year. Ag Day 365, showing how Ag Day is Everyday! The goal of this campaign is to show everyone how much our lives, all our lives, connect to agriculture. It’s not just for us farmers out in the fields, farming touches the lives of every single person every single day. Even for all my friends from Loyola Marymount University in LA, yes to all of you who only know one farmer, your lives are constantly being affected by farmers from all over the world.
If you want to learn more you can check out the website AgDay365, or feel free to follow along with #AgDay365 to see the many posts from farmers all over the United States. Here are just a few of my favorites from some great advocates for agriculture…
Allowing people a look into what farmers face each and everyday is not an easy task. It takes time and effort that goes beyond just trying to make your business survive to the next generation. But in the end, groups like American Agri-women and our local affiliate Oregon Women for Agriculture are always helping the effort. Please follow along and encourage others to as well. Because while farmers are such a small number in people, there are a growing number of us who are trying to reach out and let everyone know what we are up to out in the fields, how we raise the food you eat, and share in some of the challenges and successes that make up what we are proud to call Oregon agriculture.
It was a LONG time ago that dad and I took off for a very quick (less than 36 hr) trip back to Washington DC to speak at the Smithsonian Museum for Ask a Farmer. It was for the US Farmer and Rancher Alliance event, discussing food through history! And here…finally I have the video from that day!
The panel was all about generational farming. I was lucky to sit on the stage with a group of awesome farmers! Check it out if you have time! And feel free to share so more people can hear from some of us long time generational farmers!
This time of year it sure feels like we spend a whole lot of time out in our hazelnut orchards! Last week during all the freezing weather, while we were flailing, we were also knocking trees over. Which may seem strange, but it was time!
Filbert or hazelnut trees need a certain amount of room to grow. The sun needs to get down into the branches and those branches need to have room to stretch out in order for them to produce to their highest potential. Our trees have been in a constant cycle of removal for about the past 8 years. We have done it in cycles mostly because of the windows of opportunities that you get, when we have the labor, and also when we have the time to get this job accomplished.
Well last week we took out the last trees that needed to be removed, and I can thankfully say, while this job isn’t over yet, it’s well on it’s way. I’ll say here that one of the hardest things about tree removal is all mental. When the prices are good for nuts you want to leave the trees in, knowing that for the first few years you will have a dramatic decrease in yield until the trees that remain can catch back up. So more nuts, is more money. But then when the prices are down you think, “Shoot I can’t take the trees out this year, we need all the nuts we can get because the price is so low.” You see what I mean…it’s a battle. So this year while harvesting we noticed that the yields were dropping in the areas we hadn’t thinned, the trees needed the room, it was time (no matter what the price!).
Here is a video of how the thinning was done. We planted originally on a square grid of 18′ by 18′. Then we thinned, or pushed over the trees on a diagonal. Leaving a diamond pattern of 18′ by 36′. This will give room for the tree branches to stretch, and the sun to get into the canopy.
Meanwhile we are also out pruning suckers that grow from the base of the tree, and pruning out blight. Basically from the day we finish harvest in the fall until spring, there isn’t a day that we don’t have someone working out in those trees.
Next step will be pulling those trees out of the orchard, which is another blog post in itself. And hopefully not a too muddy of one. Who knows, maybe more freezing weather will help us get that job done with little mess too!