ECO S Eugene

Economic S Eugene

Urban Farm Connection

Urban Farm Connection

ECOS realizes providing access to local sustainably produced fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains is an important aspect in developing regional food security and vibrant healthy communities. Developing the skills and knowledge needed to grow quantities of food for ourselves is also vital. Additionally, sharing fun and enriching experiences while working together can be an important component of community building.

Many individuals and families often lack the means to buy locally grown crops because of money concerns. Further, many people would enjoy having the opportunity to supplement social activities with a farm outing, but lack the necessary connections, resources and capital to make this happen. Here in lie the seeds for the Urban to Farm Connection Project.

ECOS has received permission from a few Lane and Douglas County farmers and landowners to have access to property to grow food crops using organic and sustainable methods. In addition to traditional produce, the project would grow underutilized crops such as amaranth, millet, beans and barley. ECOS will document the project model so it may be replicated at other locations.

Outreach to households in the Eugene-Springfield area to solicit for a beginning group of 15 to 20 people began March 2008. Those interested will contribute a monthly portion of time (10-30 hrs.) for activity to grow food crops for their household on the properties. Transportation, equipment, training for various tasks, as well as nutritious snacks and lunch would be provided. Plans are in the works to provide on-site childcare and youth activities to create an enjoyable experience for youngsters. Additionally, ECOS is partnering with members of our elder community to encourage and create access for our community seniors.

As with any garden or farm there are always lots of things to do! Participants will be oriented with a Farm Team buddy to help the transition into the group. Main tasks and activities would include transplanting, weeding, cultivating, pruning and harvesting. Harvesting of the food crops will also include group preserving parties through canning, freezing and dehydration. Distribution of the crops will be allocated based on a share basis: one hour of farm related activity equals one share.

Participants in the project can also be involved in a monthly workshop or presentation. Various permaculture practices, as well as low-cost and affordable alternative energy and resource designs to use at home would be offered, giving project members hands-on experiences and practice. These monthly events would be open to the public at large and will be promoted well in advance.

In addition, two landowners involved have established fruit and filbert orchards, bamboo and timber stands and perennial raspberry rows. All of these established crops are in need of stewardship and care. These crops are a resource enabling the creation of real jobs and real economic growth. Naturally, any return from these crops through sales would be negotiated with the property owner. ECOS feels this is the underlying economic engine of the project, creating an on going sustainable means of employment and development for participants.

Additionally, protocols will be created to measure and record the pounds per measured row of food produced for each crop type. Project members will be given assistance and materials to measure and record the food used by their household. This will enable the project to make realistic projections for crops to grow in the following seasons.

ECOS sees this kind of project as an innovative way to partner and collaborate locally for food security, health and economic development. Additionally, it gives participants much more than a great supply of nutritious fruits, vegetables and grains: it provides the opportunity to be part of an emerging model of agricultural activity that brings the rural and urban dwellers of a region together in a creative and profoundly meaningful relationship.