Protecting Oregon’s Vulnerable Communities by Addressing Unjust Working Conditions in the Time of COVID-19

(By Dominica Navarro, Healthy People & Communities Program Coordinator) During this new era of social distancing and working from home, my thoughts go out to those who are risking their lives on the frontlines. When it comes to keeping people safe during these trying times, it is the important work of essential employees that allows people to take refuge at home. With this added responsibility, it becomes our duty to ensure the highest degree of protection for essential workers. But what happens when some essential employees aren’t offered the protections available to others?  Continue reading

Market Garden Pest Management

Corey and Rhiannon Weidmann of Vienna Gardens | Photo: Vienna Gardens By Sharalyn Peterson, Healthy Wildlife & Water Program Coordinator “We are unlike a majority of farms,” says market gardener Rhiannon Weidmann, owner of Vienna Gardens, a small, organic, sustainable farm in Silver Creek, Washington. Weidmann manages Vienna Gardens with her husband Corey, which includes a total of ¾ of an acre in cultivation of vegetable and flower beds as well as a small 70 year old fruit orchard. Rhiannon and Corey do not use pesticide sprays, even if they are certified organic, nor do they use tarps, solarization or flame weeding. Instead, they rely on interplanting, crop rotation and a deep mulching system to minimize the effects of pests.  Continue reading

Kinship and Sacrifice

(By Ashley Chesser, Executive Director) As fruit tree blossoms emerge and daylight lingers into the evening, I take comfort in the reliability of the natural world in a time of uncertainty. I prepare my garden beds and inventory my seeds for the upcoming growing season. Continue reading

Lessons from Organic Citrus Growers

(By Christina Stucker-Gassi, Healthy Food & Farms Program Coordinator) While a slew of canceled travel plans have caused me to rethink the next several months, the situation has also provided an opportunity to slow down and reflect on a trip I took in late January. I traveled to the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, a stone's throw from the US-Mexico border, for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) winter meeting. Food system reform advocates from across the country gathered in the warm, subtropical climate, a welcome respite from the bitter cold back home. Continue reading

Farming without Chlorpyrifos

(By Ashley Chesser, Executive Director) I signed in and grabbed a seat before the room filled and a crowd stood bunched up at the entry. For an action that should be pretty straightforward ­­– preventing brain damage and cancer in children and farmworkers – it remains a contentious issue. This was my second time testifying at the Oregon Capitol for a bill to ban the insecticide chlorpyrifos, and it wouldn’t be the last. Continue reading