Recap by Aloura DiGiallonardo, photos by Whitney Taylor
Sunday morning Slow Food: University of Oregon visited Organic Redneck Mckenzie River Farm. Nine people in total journeyed down highway 126 to the farm. Upon arrival, Erin a Slow Food Eugene leader, met us and showed us around the bio-dynamic farm.
For me, this was a very informative and enlightening experience. Within the first five minutes there, the daughter of one of the farmers ran up to the group to announce that the white chicken that her brother was just hold was DYING. The group naturally laughed, and she looked at us as if we were monsters… Seriously. IT’S DYING! And our tour began.
The chickens are used to fertilize many of the crops. The farm also sells fresh eggs.
The farm also raises other animals. They had two full grown pigs when we visited. Five dairy cows and one new baby also call the Organic Redneck McKenzie River Farm home. We were lucky enough to be there only a week after a mother gave birth to a baby calf. Valentine, was a week old when we got there. The cows provide milk and cream that is turned to butter and other dairy products for consumption. The milk is also used to feed the pigs and chickens. Nothing is wasted at a bio-dynamic farm.
This was my first time on a bio-dynamic farm. The concept as explained to us by Erin and Jack, one of the owners/farmers, was that the farm is seen as a single organism. Remedies to help heal and strengthen the farm are made from mostly materials found at the farm. One example was burying a cow horn filled with manure for months and then use that mixture in tiny amounts in their composts to nurture and help the farm. Apparently there are hundreds of these tricks that bio-dynamic farmers use, maintaining the farm by using the farm. A pretty logical concept to me!
We saw their green houses, where they are experiementing with organic peaches ( I can’t wait to find those at the farmer’s market this summer!) and where they grow most of their salad greens. The big green house with the salad greens, beets and carrots was probably my favorite part of the tour. I got to have a walking salad because we tasted almost everything that was growing.
Finally we were ushered into the home of our guests where they served us soup and biscuits made from all local, seasonal ingredients. Needless to say it was delicious. Erin also poured some cream in an antique butter churn for us to make butter. We are all convinced that this was a mean joke. Despite our best efforts, and her assurance it would turn to butter any minute, we left the kitchen with an empty soup pot and a butter churn full of milk.
Finally we were showed their on site store and she explained how the you pick blueberries work. Their blueberry bushes have been there since the 1950’s, so they produce a large amount annually. When they are in season, people can come out to the farm, pick blueberries and have a picnic. Something new this year will be an on site food cart where people can purchase food made from ingredients found on the farm.
I walked away with a belly full of soup, a jar of homemade blueberry jam and a head full of new knowledge of what a bio-dynamic farm looks and functions like. In my opinion it was another very successful Slow Food UO outing. Be sure to come with us next time!