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An Open Letter to Gov. Kate Brown on Ditch Cleaning

1 Aug

Dear Governor Kate Brown,

I know it’s been a trying legislative session, and I know that you’re work here in Oregon is never really on a break.  But today I’m writing to ask you to please sign HB 2437, the ditch cleaning bill that was passed this session.  This bill is so vitally important to farmers and landowners in Oregon.

My land is part of G.A. Miller Drainage District, district #1 in Oregon.  It’s been functioning since 1901.  This ditch was hand dug and runs about 5 miles in the St. Paul area.  We have been maintaining these drainage ditches to protect our farmland for 118 years.

Here is a short video of how we do this and why.

This past winter, after two years of working with Department of State Lands, I was asked, along with other stakeholders to participate in a legislative work group to find solutions.  The current system, it wasn’t working and I have yet to find anyone that will disagree with that.  So EVERYONE came to the table.  Environmental groups, fish groups, farmers, university specialists, legislators, land owners, EVERYONE!  And we all worked hours and hours and hours to find compromise, something that would work for everyone.  Not one group got everything they asked for.  Not one group walked out of those meetings thinking they nailed it.  EVERYONE compromised to find a SOLUTION that would help not only the problem at hand but continue to make solutions better for the state of Oregon and protect our lands; wetlands and farmland alike.

The bill that came out of all that work was on a path to success.  Because of all that work and support from Rep. Susan McLain, Rep. David Brock Smith, and Rep Brian Clem, it passed the House and the Senate with amazing bi-partisan support.  And now it sits on your desk Governor Brown.  So I’m writing today to ask that you please sign this bill.

This is good legislation that was put through a robust process in the Capitol.  We need tools to protect our land, tools that have been used for over 100 years here in this state.  I believe that by signing this bill you are assuring that more research will be done, we will learn even more about best practices for ditch cleaning and maintenance, and you will protect wetlands and farmlands in the process.  Please don’t take this tool away from us and please sign House Bill 2437.

Thank you.
Sincerely,

Brenda Frketich

 

***Please click here to also send a letter to Gov. Kate Brown.  She needs to hear how important this tool is for all landowners and farmers!  As always please share and if you have any questions just let me know!  Thank you!

Harvesting our Undies!!

20 Jul

The day finally came to harvest our Undies!!!

If you remember back about two months, the kids and I buried some tighty whities in a tall fescue field by our house. The plan was to dig them up and see how much activity was in the soil that would breakdown the underwear.

If I’m being honest, I was nervous. I mean, what if they looked like perfectly white underwear??!!! What if our soil that had been tilled just this past fall had really killed all the microbes?! What if our efforts to keep our soils healthy didn’t matter?! What if, what if, what if….

But there was nothing left to do but dig….

and dig….

and then we finally started to get a glimpse of the dirty waistband. It was an exciting moment as we pulled them out and saw that there was absolutely nothing left. Like nothing!!!!! Holy smokes!

It was a pretty fun experiment to see how much just 60 days in some healthy soil can destroy a pair of tighty whities!

This isn’t the usual way we check on the health of our soil. But it was a cool way to connect with an item that everyone is familiar with to the soil that we as farmers are familiar with.

Our latest crop, Tighty Whities

13 May

We aren’t exactly “growing” the infamous tighty whities on our farm, but we did plant one giant pair!!

Last week the kids and I teamed up with 9 other women and Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District and buried a very large pair of underwear on our respective farms.

The project named the, “Soil Your Undies Challenge” begins with the underwear being buried 3-6″ deep in the soil. In 2 months we will dig them back up to take a look at the condition of the cotton briefs. With the help of microbes, worms, bugs and other creatures who live in healthy soils we hope to have barely recognizable pieces of tighty whities.

Managing our soils is something that we take very seriously on our farm. Like many farmers we realize that our soil has a direct link to our ability to continue growing healthy crops year after year.

The field where we buried the underwear this year was just planted this spring with tall fescue. This crop will not be harvested until the summer of 2020. And hopefully it will stay in the ground, which means we will not till the soil, for another 5 to 7 years. It would be interesting to do this project year after year, to see the change of our soils activity with the years of non-tillage.

Our soil health is something that is very important to us. It is also something that we are continually learning more and more about as our farming practices evolve, regulations change, and markets fluctuate, farmers in Oregon are always looking to improve and do better.

**Photo credit goes to Capital Press & Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District.

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