Farm stand opens in Madras
Organic Earthly Delights has opened a farm stand at the corner of Dover Lane and Highway 26 in Madras, to offer fresh organic fruits and vegetables to the community.
Owned by Christina Carpenter and Grant Putnam, of Madras, the business is located on the 103-acre farm where they live. Putnam is a river guide and five years ago sold the farm, but the new owners defaulted.
“When we got the farm back, I told Grant I didn’t want to farm conventional anymore,” Carpenter said, noting they are in the process of converting to an organic and biodynamic farm.
“It’s a huge process to change over to organic techniques and the way we water,” she said, adding, “With biodynamics, you try to create a self-contained property, instead of trucking things in and out, where the animals and everything has a purpose.”
On most of the farm, hay is being share cropped by Dennis Blann, and they will split the harvest. But on three acres, which wasn’t farmed before, they are putting in six, 50-foot raised beds to grow organic vegetables. The beds are drip irrigated with Deschutes Valley Water District water to ensure organic status, since North Unit Irrigation District periodically puts fungicide in its water to kill algae.
“Our farm is considered `transitional’ right now,” she said, until they file for official organic and biodynamic certification.
Until then, the farm stand is supporting other organic farmers by carrying their products. Carpenter carries vegetables, chicken, pork and beef from the Rainshadow Organics farm in Terrebonne, Cada Dia raw cheese from Prineville, and picks up produce weekly from the Organically Grown Company in Portland.
“We will sell to the Organically Grown Company once we’re up and running,” Carpenter mentioned, adding, “We are trying to produce things that Rainshadow is not, like berries.”
“I try to get people to be adventurous and try different things. There are a million varieties of lettuce, and we have tri-colored carrots,” she said.
Earthly Delights also offers Community-Supported Agriculture shares, where customers buy a “share” in the farm and pick up weekly baskets of grower-selected produce at the Madras farm stand. The other option is home delivery baskets, where customers choose what they want in the basket. Visit the farm’s website at www.OrganicEarthlyDelights.com for details and prices.
Currently, the stand is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. When Carpenter is not there, it uses an honor system, where customers serve themselves from coolers and a refrigerator full of produce, and leave payments.
A big opening is being planned from 5 p.m. to sundown, Aug. 7, to kick off their “First Friday Farm to Feast” events, held on the first Friday of every month. This Friday’s event includes a free salmon barbecue, with veggies prepared by Carpenter, the live band, the Good Life, from Redmond, tastings from organic wineries and local beer producers, and samples of Casa Dia cheese.
“I plan to do something fabulous with vegetables,” she said, noting she’s eager to meet local residents and hopes to create a community gathering spot at Earthly Delights events.
Carpenter has plenty of experience in running an organic business. In 1993, she worked at an organic co-op in California, and developed gift baskets, which evolved into a home delivery service of organic produce and groceries.
She also managed a chiropractic center for 12 years, which prompted her views on healthy living and eating.
“I grew up as a military brat, and we had the crappiest food ever, that was cooked to heck,” she said, laughing at the memory. “As an adult, I discovered that vegetables are awesome, and you eat by color, and mix colors for nutrition.”
After moving to Montana, Carpenter ran an organic product home delivery service, driving from Missoula to Kalispell. “It grew like wildfire, and I was doing 250 deliveries a week,” she said.
Moving to Portland seven years ago, she worked for a CPA firm, did web design, and helped with Putnam’s outdoor guide and auctioneer businesses. Her kids were all raised with an organic lifestyle and enjoy food. Her son, Ben, 28, is a chef in Montana; daughter Rachael, 24, is in Portland; and son Evan, 9, lives on the Madras farm, where she homeschools him.
Future plans include adding sheep for weed control, selling organic eggs from their flock of chickens, putting in a U-cut flower patch, and play structure for visiting kids.
A large shed on the farm, with a huge cooler, is being turned into a greenhouse for growing wheatgrass and microgreens.
“Microgreens are bigger than a sprout, but smaller than a plant, and contain 40 percent more nutrition than the full leaf,” she said, mentioning things like broccoli, lettuce and radish. “They have a pop of flavor and are good for you. People can buy a living tray and snip them off as needed,” she added.
This summer, while Putnam is guiding trips on the Coast and Deschutes River, Carpenter has been getting help on projects from Willing Workers Of Organic Farmers or “wwoofers.” These adventurers travel around the world and work on organic farms in exchange for room and board.
“I have a woman coming next week to help with the stand, and a wwoofer from Germany helped me paint our rental house and fence,” she said. “I expect to have quite a few over the summer.”
For more information on Organic Earthly Delights, visit the website, or call 503-229-3869
Original article posted at: http://pamplinmedia.com/msp/131-features/268708-142897-organic-farm-has-earthly-delights