CRESWELL, Ore. — Winter in western Oregon. It’s not exactly the time people think of as being bountiful for local crops; but in the past few years, the number of farms producing in the colder months has grown.
“I think people are usually amazed to see a greenhouse like this in February,” Erica Trappe, Sweetwater Farm Co-Owner said. “Lots of hearty greens and root vegetables.”
Gloomy fog lingers in the hills around Sweetwater Farm and a few weeks in January the temperature didn’t get out of the low 30s.
“The greens just keep growing with just this little protection from the greenhouse,” Trappe said.
Sweetwater Farm produces crops even when most local farms give their fields a rest. The yield, though, is different this time of year.
“A lot of kale, collards, some Asian greens, radishes, beets, turnips,” Trappe said.
All the farm’s crops are harvested and shared in a community supported agriculture boxes, or CSA’s.
“We’re doing about 100 shares a week. It varies a little bit; one of the features of our CSA is people can skip weeks whenever they need to, so it’s always a little different from week to week,” Trappe said.
Families subscribe to the Shares from the Farm program. Then every week the crew at Sweetwater loads up boxes of its goods and delivers them to drop-off locations in town. It’s a way to connect people who live in the city with fresh, organic, locally grown produce.
“We’re basically providing food for 90 to 100 families each week,” Trappe said.
But Trappe says the farm could do more, thanks to a tight-knit farming community.
“Part of the key to doing a year-round CSA is having partnerships with other local farms. In order to keep a good variety in the shares, we’re getting stuff in from Sweet Leaf Farm. We buy from SLO Farm, Open Oak, Diamond Hill and Organically Grown Company,” Trappe said.
The other partnership is with the customers, the ones who know the value of eating local.
“I think the awareness has definitely grown,” Trappe said.
Customers protect the farms like the greenhouses protect the crops, ensuring they stay alive and healthy through difficult conditions.
If you’re interested in subscribing to Sweetwater Farm’s CSA, click here.