Farming Partners Wanted in Oregon

farming partners wanted

Farming Partners Wanted at Dora's Garden, LLC in Union, Oregon

Farming Partners Wanted: Current Situation

We operate a 52-acre certified organic farm in Union, Oregon.  Our annual rainfall is usually between 10 and 12 inches per year.  We are in the Grande Ronde Valley, surrounded by mountains and sage brush covered hills.  The primary agricultural products in our area are wheat, hay and cattle.  Winters can be very cold, windy and wet; summers are hot and dry.  Our house is inside the city limits so we have city water; our agricultural land is irrigated with creek water.  Please look at our website for pictures and links to other places in the county www.dorasgarden.com.  Our primary crop is alfalfa hay.

We take organic sustainability seriously.  We attend seminars, conferences and webinars to learn about organic/sustainable policies, organic/sustainable practices, and organic/sustainable innovations.  We hope we can demonstrate to our  conventional farming neighbors that we can save the Earth for future generations while farming profitably. 

We have two children who do not have interests in farming.  I am 70 years old and my husband is six years younger.  We are not going to be able to farm much longer.  I was sick during the 2015 and 2016 seasons and we realize how badly we fall behind without both of us in good shape.  The farm has been in my family since 1890.  The farm and many of my family heirlooms have sentimental value for me.  I cannot speak for my children.  I would like for our children to be able to stay in the farmhouse for visits during their lifetimes.

Farming Partners Wanted: Proposal

We propose finding a farmer, farming couple or farming family who want to operate a small sustainable organic farm in eastern Oregon to whom we will offer membership in our LLC.  We would not require investment of cash, rather investment of sweat-equity.  I think one way to do this would be to have the new partner(s) keep time cards for time they were doing work for the LLC.  We will consider any manner proposed by new partner(s) to calculate investment.   In the following years, we anticipate that we will spend ever longer periods of time off the farm, and eventually we will disappear.

My husband and I are trying to break even annually with our farm income.  One change I will be implementing next season is a focus on organic garden seeds sold directly to consumers on-line, rather than selling certified organic produce.  In order to produce income necessary to support a family, we will need to revise our business plan, including additional streams of income.   Additional streams of income that occur to me to explore include the following:

*  Raising mushrooms;

*  Raising duck eggs for city markets, possibly marketing locally;

*  Expanding organic seed business to field seeds;

*  Raising meat chickens;

*  Raising sheep for fiber and meat;

*  Raising other fiber animals;

*  Installing season extenders and selling produce to hospital, college, cafes at health centers;

*  Operating established restaurant on day they are normally closed—offering organic, health food;

*  Bed and Breakfast in farmhouse;

*  Expanding on-line sales of organic herbs and teas.;

*  Expanding fruit & nut tree production, permaculture...perhaps on edges of fields; and

*  Permits and licensing for commercial jams and nuts.

I am certain there are additional streams of income that have not occurred to me.

Farming Partners Wanted: Attributes We Seek

We realize finding an individual(s) with all of the attributes we desire in a partner would be unrealistic.  However, we would like to find an individual(s) with many of the attributes and evidence that many additional attributes would be acquired.  Attributes we desire include the following:

*  Experience with livestock;

*  Experience with organic practices;

*  Experience operating farm equipment;

*  Mechanical experience;

*  Delight in seasonal changes with weather extremes;

*  Rudimentary electrical knowledge;

*  Construction experience;

*  Passion for sustainable and regenerative practices;

*  Experience drafting business plans, and budgets;

*  Marketing originality;

*  Fluent written and spoken English;

*  Experience performing meticulous record keeping and journaling;

*  Basic awareness and appreciation of the flora, fauna, climate and geology of eastern Oregon;

*  Patience and open mind;

*  Experience with computerized, detailed financial records;

*  Demonstration of responsibility;

*  Appreciation of the scientific method and peer-reviewed science to evaluate beliefs about such things as climate change, GMOs, and age of Earth;

*  Comfort with communal aspects of household (eg. shared meals) while my husband and I are still around;

*  Understanding that farmers do not get weekends off and cannot leave for holidays and vacations without careful arrangement with others for care of animals, and security of farm; and

*  Progressive, Bernie Sanders-inspired, world-view.

Farming Partners Wanted: Preparation for Partnership

If you are interested in exploring this partnership, please email manager@dorasgarden.com.  We will send you an application to complete.  We will contact former employers and references, such as teachers. 

Because our proposal would require profound trust and confidence among all parties, it is imperative that we invest the necessary time to know and understand each other before entering a formal agreement.  I cannot give away my family's farming business casually.

Mutual exchange with potential partners who live near us will be relatively easy with shared dinners, active discussions and cooperative projects.  The natural methods for building friendship will be much more difficult from distances.  Perhaps before entering a formal agreement and moving household, potential partners would be our employees for a season...this is completely up for discussion and not etched in stone.

We are asking potential partners to fill in applications for us.  We will give a brief summary of who we are.  Do not hesitate to ask questions!

Susan Isabel Boyd's Autobiographical Sketch

My mother was visiting her family, at the farm where my husband and I now live, when I was born in August, 1946.  My mother, father and I lived in Chicago, Illinois, for my first year.  My first memories are of life as a free-range child in Madison, Wisconsin, on Black Hawk Avenue.  My brother Charlie was born when I was four.  When I was five, we moved to Frederick, Maryland.  We moved to Dunn Loring Virginia, when I was seven.  Dunn Loring was an idyllic, rural, unpaved community when we lived there.  It is a subway stop from Washington, D. C., today.  My sister Libby was born when I was eight.  We were still free-range children spending our days playing gaily with friends, exploring creeks and woods.  In 1962 when I was a junior in high school we moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania.  While I was growing up, my family vacationed in Union, Oregon, working on the family farm in the summertime.

I went to Penn State University.  I earned a B.A. degree in General Arts and Sciences in three years.  I did not return home after college.  I moved to Ithaca, New York.  I was a waitress, secretary, leather shop tailor, and waterbed business partner.  Eventually, I went to school at Cornell University for a year, and then SUNY  Cortland to earn an MAT in Secondary English...on student loans.  Student loans were much smaller than they are today, but it felt like an onerous burden even then. 

As an adult I continued to come to Eastern Oregon regularly.  I was the only member of my generation who took an interest in family farmland.  My Uncle Bob, who was the only remaining farmer in his generation, repeatedly told me I would need to take care of the family farmland someday.  I wish I could ask Bob questions today, I wish I had paid closer attention to things he told me, and I wish I had written things down.  Today I manage approximately 1,000 acres of family farmland.             

Instead of becoming a high school English teacher, I became a police officer.  While working in Raleigh, North Carolina, I decided I wanted to go to law school.  During my first two years at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, I worked midnight to 8 am as a police office.  After Ira and I were married in January 1985, Ira paid my tuition for my third year in law school and I resigned my police position.  It felt wonderful to sleep regularly again.

Our son Eli was born in December 1986 and our daughter Dora was born in January 1989.  I chose “mommy track” rather than “partner track” for my legal career.  I focused on Oregon Land Use, employment, and business agreements, usually working from an office in my home.  I closed my law practice in 2008, in order to farm full time at Dora's Garden.

Ira Mark Cohen's Autobiographical Sketch

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1952.  I don't remember living in Brooklyn.  I was quite small when we moved to a suburban house on a 60' x 100' lot outside of New York City.  That's where I lived until I was 18, when I went away to college.

My father's family were all city people (like me) in the New York area and, before that, in Manchester, England.  My mother's grandparents, however, did own a farm in southern New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia.  I was told my great-grandfather made his living by buying old dairy cows who no longer could produce milk and fattening them for slaughter.  I remember my grandmother saying that one of her earliest memories was riding around her father's farm in a cart with the billy goat hitched to it.

At the age of 18, I went to college at M.I.T. to study physics.  At the time, I was told that 80% of the entering freshman said they wanted to major in either physics or mathematics, but 50% of the graduating class were electrical engineers.  I bucked the trend and actually graduated in physics.

My next adventure was to go to graduate school at Cornell University.  It took a long time, but it did get my Ph.D. there in experimental physics.  Through a couple of lucky events, I landed a job at Tektronix Applied Research Labs.  (A freak snow storm kept other applicants away, and somebody misread part of my resume in my favor.)  I worked for Tektronix for six good years as a physicist for four and an engineer for two.

Although I was happy at Tektronix, I did happen upon an ad for a professorship at Linfield College.  They were looking for a new physics professor to add electronics education to their course offerings.  It sounded like me, so I applied and taught at Linfield for eleven years.  During those years, I made contact with a man who was a professor at Cornell when I was a graduate student.  I joined his research group at Los Alamos National Laboratory where we did experimental neutrino physics.

I left Linfield to return to industry.  I worked as a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay area for about sixteen years until I tried to retire at age 61.  My wife had other ideas and I became a farmhand on her farm.  I do things like tractor maintenance, irrigation chores and move hundreds and hundreds of bales of hay around.

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