From Our Roots: Community Action Program of East Central Oregon and Food Banks
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From Our Roots: Community Action Program of East Central Oregon and Food Banks From Our Roots: Community Action Program of East Central Oregon and Food Banks Document Transcript

  • From Our RootsCommunity Food Assessment Report The People, Agriculture and Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler Counties, Oregon Community Action Program of East Central Oregon In cooperation with Oregon Food Bank and Resource Assistance for Rural Environments
  • THE ASSESSMENT TEAM PRIMARY AUTHORS AND RESEARCHERS Karen Wagner, CAPECO Katie Weaver, CAPECO and RARE CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS, RESEARCHERS AND EDITORS Alison Arnold, Columbia Blue Mountain RC&D and RARE Sarah Burford, Columbia Plateau Food Links Cynthia Eardley, CAPECO and OCAC COLLABORATORS Paula Chavez, CAPECO Sharon Thornberry, Oregon Food Bank Wheeler County Local Food Committee i
  • FOREWARDWhen the first settlers came to Oregon they were amazed by the rich soil, abundant water supply and eventhe islands of productivity in Oregon’s deserts. They were thrilled with the crops, fruits and berries theywere able to raise, the rich pastureland, as well as the streams teaming with fish and the bounty of wildgame available to feed a growing population. It would have been impossible for them to believe thatanyone could be hungry or food insecure in this land of plenty. It is incredible that hunger and foodinsecurity abound in Oregon nearly two centuries later. In fact, many of the areas that seemed so bountifulto those early settlers have the least access to food today.Two years ago the Oregon Food Bank in partnership with University of Oregon Resource Assistance forRural Environments AmeriCorps program began to conduct community food assessments in some ofOregon’s rural counties. Very few community food assessment efforts have been undertaken in ruralAmerica with a county by county approach. The report you are about to read is a result of conversationswith the people who make Oregon’s rural communities and their food systems so very unique. Thesereports are also a gift from a small group of very dedicated young people who have spent the last yearlistening, learning and organizing. It is our sincere hope, that these reports and organizing efforts will helpOregonians renew their vision and promise of the bountiful food system that amazed those early settlers. Sharon Thornberry Community Resource Developer Oregon Food Bank ii
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENTSBeyond our main collaborators, we acknowledge the support of the many community members whocommitted time and energy to the research, outreach, organizing and reviews of community foodexpansion and this Assessment. In this abbreviated list we include local county governments, teachers,and staff from agencies and organizations that serve the communities we visited, to farmers, gardeners,farmers market organizers, local food groups and individuals who care about the places they live in andthe health and well-being of their friends and neighbors. The Gilliam-Morrow-Umatilla WheelerCommunity Food Assessment is dedicated to the people of these Counties and the inspiration and hardwork theyve undertaken for local food security and local food systems development iii
  • TABLE OF CONTENTSTHE ASSESSMENT TEAM ......................................................................................................................... iFOREWARD ................................................................................................................................................ iiACKNOWLEDGMENTS ........................................................................................................................... iiiTABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................. ivExecutive Summary From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture and Food of Gilliam, Morrow,Umatilla and Wheeler Counties................................................................................................................... 1INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................ 2Community Food Security ............................................................................................................................ 2Community Food Assessment ...................................................................................................................... 2Our Assessment ............................................................................................................................................ 3About This Report......................................................................................................................................... 5CHAPTER 1—THE FOODSHED ............................................................................................................... 6CHAPTER 2—GILLIAM COUNTY .......................................................................................................... 7 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 7 People ........................................................................................................................................................ 8 Agriculture .............................................................................................................................................. 10 Food......................................................................................................................................................... 12Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................. 16Opportunities in Gilliam County................................................................................................................. 17CHAPTER 3—MORROW COUNTY ....................................................................................................... 19 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 19 People ...................................................................................................................................................... 20 Agriculture .............................................................................................................................................. 22 Food......................................................................................................................................................... 24Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................. 30Opportunities in Morrow County................................................................................................................ 31CHAPTER 4—UMATILLA COUNTY ..................................................................................................... 33 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 33 People ...................................................................................................................................................... 34 Agriculture .............................................................................................................................................. 37 Food......................................................................................................................................................... 40 iv
  • Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................. 45Opportunities in Umatilla County ............................................................................................................... 46CHAPTER 5—WHEELER COUNTY ....................................................................................................... 48 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................. 48 People ...................................................................................................................................................... 49 Agriculture .............................................................................................................................................. 51 Food......................................................................................................................................................... 53Conclusion .................................................................................................................................................. 57Opportunities in Wheeler County ............................................................................................................... 58CHAPTER 6—REGIONAL ASSESSMENT ............................................................................................ 60 PEOPLE .................................................................................................................................................. 61 AGRICULTURE ..................................................................................................................................... 62 FOOD ...................................................................................................................................................... 65CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................................................... 66Opportunities in the Regional Foodshed .................................................................................................... 68CHAPTER 7—DEVELOPMENT OF THE STUDY ................................................................................. 71Data Source ................................................................................................................................................. 71Methodology ............................................................................................................................................... 71Limitations and Value of the Study ............................................................................................................ 71glossary ....................................................................................................................................................... 72WORKS CITED ......................................................................................................................................... 73APPENDICES ............................................................................................................................................ 75 v
  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FROM OUR ROOTS: THE PEOPLE, AGRICULTURE ANDFOOD OF GILLIAM, MORROW, UMATILLA AND WHEELER COUNTIESCovering four east-central Oregon counties, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler, this Community FoodAssessment (CFA) From Our Roots, was ambitious and large-scale. It skimmed the surface of assets andopportunities in the region (including a look across the Columbia River to the northern part of this foodshed).The effort helps address ever-growing nutrition-related health problems, diminished rural agriculturaleconomies and food insecurity across the region. It is driven, in part, by the fact that the Community ActionProgram of East Central Oregon (CAPECO), in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank, supplies emergencyfood to regional residents here - over one million pounds in 2009 - a quantity that is growing, unsustainableand almost unbelievable, considering the vast amounts of food grown here.WHAT WE LOOKED FOR. This CFA rooted out opportunities to re-localize the food system , touchingbriefly on natural resources, economic prosperity and diversity, historical and cultural wealth, communityhealth, market expansion, infrastructural supports, and resiliency. We used three criteria to explore foodsecurity and opportunities: food access (how and where people can obtain local food); food availability (is itgrown, processed and distributed locally), and food affordability (given current economic realities, what wouldpeople be willing and able to buy). What we discovered is laid out in this report to revolve around thePEOPLE, the FARM economy, and the FOOD situation in each county.OUR FINDINGS. Using surveys, facilitated workshops and conversations we discovered how diverse, andbounteous this region is, as well as under-resourced and in need of specific, community-based activity, andbroad collaboration and vision around food system integration and development. Three of the four countiesare classified as frontier counties, complete with "food deserts". People with resources and transportation aregenerally well-fed, but co-exist with pockets of under-nourished, hungry or potentially insecure individualsand communities disadvantaged by the current trend of procuring food from distant sources and loss of localopportunity. And while cash receipts to farmers are generally high, they are still earning less than they did inthe 1970s, affecting every aspect of this predominantly rural agricultural region. The top three identified needswere for: 1) Expanded, more accessible and affordable year-round local food resources, including gardens,farm stands and markets, emergency resources and retail options; 2) Increased education and skills aroundgrowing, cooking, gardening, nutrition, shopping and hunting/harvesting (in that order) for all sectors of thecommunity; and 3) Strengthened community and regional networking, marketing and infrastructuraldevelopment.OUTCOMES. From this initial exploration, two first-ever regional Food & Farm Guides were produced tomarket and stimulate purchases from local growers. The food assessment team helped facilitate sharedpurpose, and vision, and identify assets in each community, raising the capacity of individuals and groups totake direct action on their own behalf. Each county received five to seven recommendations or"Opportunities" that were similar but reflected specific needs, strengths and assets present their communities,and food and farming systems. Next steps include the support of local champions and food groups, localpurchasing options, regional networks and action plans. All of which help to develop food awareness,appropriate alternative local and regional production and marketing opportunities, food system infrastructureand other synergistic local food projects. The hope is that this work will be reviewed, renewed and acted uponin regular intervals by the residents of each County, leading to increased funding, resource development andproject implementation helping communities in this region move from surviving to thriving. "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard Page | 1From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • our food system. This community food securityINTRODUCTION movement is working towards building strongTHE FOOD SYSTEM. The United States is and resilient food systems through innovativeone of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet and diverse community partnerships.accessing enough healthy, fresh food to meetbasic nutritional needs is a critical issue faced by Community food security is defined as “allmillions of Americans. There are a number of citizens are able to obtain a safe, personallyreasons for food insecurity in the United States, acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainablethe primary causes being lack of employment food system that maximizes healthy choices,opportunities, low wages and increases in the community self-reliance and equal access forcost of living, energy and health care. But to everyone” (Hamm & Bellows, 2003). A foodtruly understand food insecurity, one must system can be broadly described as all of therecognize the vital role the structure of food processes involved with feeding people. Itsystem plays. Over the last 50 years our food includes growing, harvesting, processing,system has become increasingly global in its distributing, obtaining, consuming and disposingextent, leading to the industrialization and of food. These processes, in addition to theconsolidation of agriculture and all the social and cultural characteristics of acomponents of our food delivery system, and the community and relevant government policies,decline of small, embedded local farms, ranches, define a food system.and the food facilities and infrastructure that Food security exists when all people havebrings food from the field to the table. This physical, social and economic access at all timesleaves Americans and their food supply to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meetsvulnerable to forces beyond their control. The their dietary needs and food preferences for anloss of vibrant, local food systems and the day- active and healthy life via non-emergencyto-day reality of people’s inability to afford food sources. It also means that food is produced,have a significant impact on a secure, processed and distributed in ways that respectsustainable, safe food source - e.g. food security and protect the environment and workers whoor insecurity - throughout the country. produce it. Food insecurity is a lack ofIsolation and the lack of local food system sufficient food and proper nutrition, and covers ainfrastructure paired with persistent poverty and broad spectrum of hunger-related feelings andunemployment plague rural east-central Oregon behaviors, including fear of going hungry, andand have made food insecurity a critical issue the resulting, often compromised choices peoplefaced by many people throughout Gilliam, make to meet basic food and health needs.Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler Counties. COMMUNITY FOODCOMMUNITY FOOD SECURITY ASSESSMENTFew people know where their food comes from, To overcome the narrow scope of conventionalthe conditions under which it is grown and food security work, the Community Foodraised or how it gets to the supermarket shelves. Assessment (CFA) has emerged as a researchWhile the disconnect between producers and method to provide a more holistic andconsumers continues to grow, many people comprehensive approach to understanding andacross the country are working towards creative, improving food security at local and regionallocalized solutions to the current problems with levels. A Community Food Assessment is Page | 2From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • defined as “a collaborative and participatory the movement toward a more localized, locally-process that systematically examines a broad controlled and chosen food system.range of community food issues and assets, so asto inform change actions to make the community Recommendations that emerged for each countymore food secure” (Pothukuchi, Joseph, Burton, relate to the expansion of the following four& Fisher, 2002). elements of health, wealth, connections and capacity-building.A CFA tells the story of what is happening withfood in a community using varied and diverse In the long view, no nation is healthier than itsmethods. A CFA can help highlight the children, or more prosperous than its farmers".connections between the various sectors of a Harry Trumanfood system including production, processing,distribution, storage, consumption and disposal.It is a powerful tool to explore a range of food HEALTH. Our CFA revealed a great need tosystem issues, to provide opportunities for broad attend to health in all contexts. Nutritional datacommunity involvement and to create positive, showed that, regardless of age and incomelasting change. levels, health trends are in declining, and in particular, more obese and/or malnourishedOne way to define the success of a CFA is the seniors and children, higher rates of diabetes,degree to which it inspires the re-localization of and other weight-related diseases prevalent inthe food and farming system, in a way that the region. People here have expressed interestallows individuals and communities to in improving the health of themselves, theirparticipate and have more control over this basic families and communities, as well as the healthneed. With that comes several other tangible of the farms and farm land they depend on.benefits: improved health, wealth, connectionand community capacity, as described below. Health in the context of local food and farm systems often leads to the question of "sustainability"- sustainable communities,OUR ASSESSMENT agriculture, nature and the economy. We wereThis CFA, From Our Roots, focused on the food unable to address the wealth of the naturaland farming situations in Gilliam, Morrow, systems on which farming is built, though manyUmatilla and Wheeler Counties in east central other organizations have. Water, soil, speciesOregon. diversity and energy are critical, variable and changing around the region - sunlight and aridityTHE 3 As. We explored three criteria: might be the main common denominators!.. OurAvailability (is food grown, processed and bottom line is that, ultimately, sustainability isdistributed locally); Access (how and where about health - the on-going long-term health ofpeople can obtain local food); and Affordability the people, their food and lifestyles, living in(given current economic realities, what would enriched and adaptable environments with vitalpeople be willing and able to buy). living economies and communities. SustainableVery importantly, the term "local food" is used food and farming can be built upon the "triplein two ways: food not from a specific bottom-line" values of creating healthy people,geographically defined area, but that which planet and profits.travels the shortest distance possible fromfarmers field to consumers fork; and to identify Page | 3From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • WEALTH. Economically speaking, cash vehicles, roads and paths evolved to servereceipts to farmers are generally high, but they different needs, from the human scale of foot-are still earning less than they did in the 1970s, and bicycles to the global scale sea and skyaffecting every aspect of this predominantly traffic. A diversified food system wouldrural agricultural region. To overcome rural optimally mimic that multi-scaled system, or aninsecurities, job creation is a priority, and environmental system, based on organicallyresuming greater control of the regions most on- evolving webs of interaction between manygoing, basic need for food builds naturally on different kinds of organisms and theirthe strengths, traditions and renewed environment, adapting for need, throughappreciation for eating home-grown food. We communication with each entity along the way.recognize, and heard a lot about, the value andwealth generated by large-scale production The connections made during this Communityagriculture in the region. We also learned that, Food Assessment are just the beginning of thewhere feasible, "local food" presents an redevelopment of a local communicationadditional, very valuable option in terms of network for many communities. With eachincreased economic value, diversity and social gathering or introduction creative conversationsbenefits to rural agro-economies. "Agri- and solutions developed as people shared theirpreneurialism" and "economic gardening" are stories, dreams, memories and challenges ofrecognized tools for diversifying the economy, food and farming. We heard the conversationand improving local wage and employment shift away from the top-down corporate-drivenopportunities. food chain which removes food from the farm, and control from producers and consumers, aOur conclusions focused on the presence or toward a more self-directed, locally-controlledpossibilities of a more diversified, small-scale, concept of a food web or network of interactionfood and farming economy to expand and and connection. Before our very eyes, farmerscompliment larger-scale, export-focused and customers of all sizes created relationships,production. This CFA identified significant processes, partnerships and new products,interest and participation in farm-direct meeting basic needs, generating ideas andproduction, marketing and purchasing in all four sharing risks. The social system (if rich incounties, which will be discussed in subsequent connections and "social capital") provides thechapters. basis for financial capital development; increased connectivity promotes increasedCONNECTION. Connections make our world adaptability and creativity. Deeper, morework, creatively, efficiently, adaptively. diverse connections expand the capacity for growth, change, resilience and success. “You have to look at connections. Our society runs on systems.” In other words, CAPACITY-BUILDING - The Gilliam County resident ultimate goal of our community-based food assessment is to expand a communitys ability toOur world is not built on A linear chain of take care of itself. In this case, to grow not justinteraction but networks and webs of interaction the food supply, but new leaders, relationships,between entities of many sizes. To use a and resources. A community with healthy sensefamiliar model, our transportation system - of itself, its diversity and commonalities, itscomprised of many different sizes of feet and limitations and strengths, has the ability to create opportunities to adapt and thrive, meeting the Page | 4From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • human, economic and cultural needs of itsresidents over time. The ultimate blessing ofdeveloping and sustaining a healthy local foodsystem is that we grow more than food - we alsogrow Community.ABOUT THIS REPORTHOW WE DID IT. From September 2009 toJuly 2010 interviews and community meetingswere conducted throughout Gilliam, Morrow,Umatilla and Wheeler Counties. Numerousstakeholder meetings and five FEASTs wereconducted in three of the four counties. A"FEAST" - shortened from the words Food-Education-Agriculture Solutions Together- is astructured meeting designed by organizers at theOregon Food Bank to bring together local foodstakeholders for discussion and solutioncreation. Additionally, four focus groups wereconducted in the communities of Arlington,Fossil, Mitchell and Spray. Input was alsogathered via a consumer and producer surveythat was open to all residents in the four-countyarea.FORMAT. Information for each county isorganized and analyzed separately and dividedinto three general topic areas: People,Agriculture and Food. These broad headingsaddressed the issues uncovered by theCommunity Food Assessment, from historicalperspectives to the present day. We tried tocapture what was, what is, and what might beabout food, food systems, farming, hunger, longand short-term challenges and opportunities. SeeMethodology, Chapter 7, for more informationon the study design and implementation andreport development. Page | 5From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • CHAPTER 1—THE FOODSHEDALL SYSTEMS GO. A "food system" is madeup of all the cultural beliefs, technical elementsand physical activities that serve to grow,deliver, sell, consume and dispose of food. Itincludes everyone from the farmers, to grocers,consumers, marketers, distributors, transporters,policy-makers and all who participates ingetting food from the field to the fork. A"foodshed" is all that plus the physical regionand natural resource base from which the food isproduced. The American foodshed ("foodprint") The region has a varying climate, but isis presently very large - global, in fact. Our food generally arid; except for increases inis produced in and shipped from every corner of precipitation along the foothills of the Blue andthe Earth. Food security or insecurity stems Ochoco Mountains most of the region is affectedfrom the amount of control over quantity and by the rain shadow effect of the Cascadequality of food that is available to people and Mountains. As weather fronts move eastwardcommunities. In the U.S., despite the appearance across Oregon much of the precipitation occursof plenty, we are subject to global, multi- on the west slopes of the Cascades leaving littlenational, climactic, political and economic precipitation for the counties east of thefluctuations, with very little control at the local mountains. This is particularly true for thelevel. Increased amounts of food produced and uplands of Gilliam, Morrow and westerndistributed in a more localized foodshed are Umatilla Counties. Areas that abut the Blueseen as one way to increase food security. Mountains, or lie within the Umatilla and John Day River flood plains benefit from theirNATURAL RESOURCE BASE. The four captured moisture, lower temperatures,counties of east central Oregon - Gilliam, precipitation and surface water. TheseMorrow, Umatilla and Wheeler - encompass a conditions feed the soil, waterways and crops,large area south of the Columbia River and north creating important diversity in climate, cropand west of the Blue Mountains. It is a region types and quantities.rich in history; it is the homeland of the Cayuse,Northern Paiute, Umatilla, Walla Walla and The Columbia River is the largest river in theWarm Springs tribes and original tracks from the Northwest. It makes up the northern boundary ofoverland migration along the Oregon Trail are Gilliam County, Morrow County and part ofstill visible in many places. The Columbia Umatilla County. It plays a central role in thePlateau is also rich in its agricultural activity. culture, economy and politics of the region. It isFarming and ranching were two of the original used for irrigation, power generation and aeconomic mainstays of white settlement. They major transportation corridor. It is particularlycontinue to play a critical role in the region. The important for transportation as the Columbiaphysical landmass for this CFA is depicted in Plateau is the largest wheat producing region inthe above map, and is comprised of the four the state and much of the wheat crop is shippedcounties in CAPECOs food-related service area. down the Columbia on barges. Page | 6From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla &Wheeler Counties, Oregon
  • CHAPTER 2—GILLIAM COUNTY WHEAT FIELDS AND WINDMILLS IN GILLIAM COUNTYIntroduction incorporated communities—Arlington, Condon and Lonerock. The most residents within theLocated in the heart of the Columbia Plateau County live in Arlington or Condon.region, Gilliam County was historicallyimportant as a transportation corridor for the The climate varies throughout the County, but itregion’s Native American tribes traveling to and is generally an arid region. Precipitation variesfrom fishing, hunting, gathering and trading from an average of 9 inches in Arlington to 14grounds. The first white settlers to the region inches a year in Condon (Taylor, 2000). Strongcame through on the Oregon Trail and, in the winds are common in the Columbia Riverlate 19th century, began to put down roots in Gorge, as evidenced by the wind millsGilliam County. blanketing large swaths of northern Gilliam County.Gilliam County is bounded by the ColumbiaRiver to the north, the John Day River to the It is the second least populous county in Oregon,west and the foothills of the Blue Mountains to after Wheeler County to the south, with onlythe southeast. Much of the county sits high atop 1,645 people living within its borders (Indicatorsthe Plateau; it ranges in elevation of over 3,000 Northwest, 2009). This low population densityfeet near Condon down to 285 feet at Arlington gives Gilliam County, and all the counties thaton the Columbia River. There are threeFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 7
  • surround it, the designation of a frontier county Since 2000 Gilliam County has lost -14.1% of(Frontier Education Center, 1998). its population, the second highest rate of loss in the state of Oregon. What is particularlyGilliam County’s primary economic drivers are concerning about the decreasing population isagriculture, construction, government services that nearly all of it (-12%) is attributed to out-and waste management. Agriculture is the top migration; people moving out of the Countyemployment sector with 16.2% of the workforce (Indicators Northwest, 2009).employed in agriculture. A close second isconstruction, employing 16% of the workforce Out-migration is a serious issue in rural(Indicators Northwest, 2008). This is an increase communities. There is much documentation onof over 5% from 2007, due to the recent large the ripple effects of out migration and the impactincrease in wind energy development. it can have on the economy and community. When rural communities lose critical services,Gilliam County’s economy is diversified to a residents have to drive to other service centers ingreater degree than many of its neighbors. By the region and while there, often do all of theirthe numbers, it appears to be more stable and shopping, exporting much needed income andlikely to have food secure individuals and wealth to the urban areas and leaving our ruralcommunities. Conversations with people areas wondering what happened and where itthroughout the County revealed that that went.assumption is not necessarily completelyaccurate. With the wealth generated from the Traveling and talking with residents with peopleindustries within its borders Gilliam County throughout the County uncovered stories ofappears to be well situated and capable of people struggling to make ends meet, andhaving purposeful conversations about food and oftentimes going without meals or foregoingfarm opportunities that benefit its residents, and medical care just to make ends meet each month.increase food security at the individual and Senior citizens, in particular, were identified as acommunity level. vulnerable group. So, while on the surface it appears that Gilliam County does not have manyPeople issues, the reality of not knowing where the nextBy the numbers, Gilliam County seems to have meal is coming from exists for some residents.few of the issues that most counties east of the “Seniors have the choice of eating or beingCascades confront on a regular basis. While ithas some of the lowest unemployment and warm.” Condon residentpoverty rates in the state, several themes arose inthat are of concern; Gilliam County is losing It is an aging population; there are lots of seniorpopulation, the population is aging, has a lack of citizens. 23.4% of the County population is 65job opportunities, underemployment, lack of years and older, the 4th highest rate in the state.opportunities for youth and isolation. There was concern about this trend by nearly every one interviewed. While many of theseFor a snap shot of information and statistics seniors are well taken care of, there were storiesplease see ADDRESSING HUNGER in Gilliam of shut-ins, widows and people living alone onCounty, 2009, page 13. fixed incomes and uncertainty of how they were living and feeding themselves.From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 8
  • Another consideration is the aging population is landfills on the northern end of the Countythe importance of volunteers in the communities. receive large amounts of waste from throughoutMost volunteers are retired and/or senior the Pacific Northwest. Yet as the nationalcitizens, leaving many services performed by economy slowed, so did the waste coming intovolunteers to be manned by a aging and the landfills. People are buying less so they’redwindling populations. Both Arlington and throwing away less. An increase in recycling hasCondon echoed the importance of volunteers to also affected the landfills, resulting in lesssustain efforts and services, particularly for activity and less money flowing into the County.those in need. Yet, as volunteers age there isconcern for the future sustainability of efforts Hundreds of jobs have been created to build thethat are critical to community functions and wind farms, but many of the employees comesupports. In Condon, we were told that they from outside of the region. Furthermore, many“don’t have the volunteers to sustain services of the jobs are short-term construction jobs. Sonow needed.” And in Arlington food pantry outside of agriculture, waste management, windvolunteers believe that “this town would come to development and government services there arescreeching halt without volunteerism.” These are very few jobs to be had in Gilliam County.important things to consider as the population Many residents piece together multiple jobs tocontinues to age. make ends meet. One resident of Arlington expressed her frustration at the difficulty finding “I would love to go back to work.” and retaining full time employment; “I kept a Arlington focus group participant job because of my tenacity.” Under-employment is a common occurrence inGilliam County also has one of the lowest rates rural communities, but not nearly as visible orof population under the age of 18 in the state. discussed as unemployment. Many people workThis was echoed by many people interviewed; temporary or part time service industry jobs.one young mother described Condon as “a These are the jobs that rarely come with benefitsfamily town, there is history here.” Yet, there are such as health insurance and retirement, assuringfewer young families and children and many the issues will only get more difficult over time.attribute this trend to the lack of jobopportunities in the County. There was muchconjecture about the unemployment rate beingso low because there are no jobs, so people leaveor do not move to Gilliam County, keeping thepopulation rates low in a vicious cycle.WEALTH. In June 2010 its unemployment rateof 7.0% was the lowest in the state (WorksourceOregon, 2010). Yet stories of a slowingeconomy and underemployment were common. CONDON CHILDCARE GARDEN - "GROWING MINDS"!Waste management services are an important Another issue concerning many residents is thesector of Gilliam County’s economy. The lack of opportunities and activities for youth.County levies a fee on the waste and uses it to And specific to food, many people raised thesupport property tax payments for residents and concern that youth need to be educated onfunds county projects. Two waste disposal growing and raising food and the importance ofFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 9
  • good nutrition. While Condon has an active FFA visits to the food pantry, community meals andprogram that started a garden at the high school social activities that are beneficial for health.last year, Arlington does not. This is not One rural resident told us that “I can do a lot ofsurprising as many communities and schools stretching” but the existing services don’thave lost agriculture educational opportunities necessarily cover the entire month. This mayover time. It is an important outlet for youth mean going without critical services, such athough, and there is interest in bringing it back. medical attention, as well. “Our kids around here have nothing to do. If Many of these people are on SNAP, but their you don’t play sports you’re flat out of luck.” food supply often dwindles by the end of the Gilliam County employee month and they have to use the food pantry. This is a common and regular occurrence. As one social service worker explained “emergencyHEALTH. The Center for Disease Control (US food has become a regular, sustaining foodDept. of Health and Human Services) tracked source for many pantry clients.”Gilliam County residents increasing rates ofdiabetes and obesity between 2004 and 2007. “Not being able to provide for your family isThe numbers rose, from 6.6% to 6.9%, and a very personal thing.”23.4% to 26.1% respectively. Thankfully, Condon residenteducation for everyone in the community wasalso identified as an important next step. Thetwo most sought after education opportunities While this need is a source of embarrassment foridentified in the consumer survey were nutrition many working families, it is also the reality of(36%) and gardening (32%). This was seconded living in remote and isolated rural communitiesby many people that were interviewed. Pantry without ready access to fresh, healthy local foodvolunteers in both Arlington and Condon sources. It is difficult to get those in need tiedstressed the need to educate their clients in meal into the service net and we were told that schoolplanning and preparation. While the food pantry employees “have to hound families to sign upvolunteers and clients would like to see more for free- and reduced-price lunches for theirfresh products, they don’t necessarily have children.” Echoing this sentiment, DHSsupplies to cook with and don’t know how to employee told of families struggling to keepcook it. food in the fridge yet not utilizing SNAP.Lastly, an issue that has already been touched on Agriculturebut is an important consideration in this work is From the beginning of white settlement,the vulnerability of population groups, or entire agriculture has been central to culture and thecommunities, living in isolation in rural areas. economy of Gilliam County. The earliest settlersGilliam is a "frontier" county (fewer than 6 brought cattle with them over the Oregon Trailpeople per square mile), with food sources more and planted grains that were suited to the drythan ten miles from many homes and towns. climate. There were also “many good fruitMany of locals shop at the local grocery stores orchards” within the County (Fourth State ofbecause they don’t have the ability to drive to Oregon Biennial Report, 1911, p.130).larger towns where groceries may be cheaper. Grain and cattle remain the mainstays ofTransportation is an issue throughout the region. agriculture in Gilliam County, while theMany folks shared that they may also forego orchards that once existed have all but vanished.From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 10
  • Wheat is the principal crop; there are over There was concern expressed by a number of97,000 acres planted. Barley and cattle are also people interviewed that the family structure ofimportant contributors to the agricultural farms is changing as well; farmers continue toeconomy. The sale of grains, oilseeds, dry beans get older and the average age is now 59.5 years.and dry peas is valued at nearly $25 million and Many residents also expressed concern that it iscattle and calf sales are valued at $6.4 million a difficult for the next generation to stay on theyear (Census of Agriculture, 2007). farm. It is much more likely that these farms supported multiple generations in the past thanGilliam County has 164 farms with an average they do today. Inheriting the farm or starting outsize of just over 4,200 acres; the second largest as a beginning farmer is fraught with financialaverage in the state (Census of Agriculture, complexities and oftentimes insurmountable2007). While there is anecdotal evidence to barriers.suggest that there is a trend of fewer people “The era of kids working on farms is a thingfarming larger acreages, there are 10 more farmstoday than there were in 1987 and they are, on of the past.” Gilliam County employeeaverage, 800 acres smaller (Highlights of Gilliam County GrocerAgriculture, 1992 & 1987). In 1984 the Conservation Reserve Program (which pays farmers to move sensitive and fragile lands from productive to protection FARMS IN GILLIAM COUNTY status) was implemented. As one resident 164 farms on 733,387 acres. shared, it has had long lasting effects on the Estimated value of land and building per agricultural economy in Gilliam County. A BY THE NUMBERS farm is $2.0 million and $443 per great deal of land was taken out of production to acre. be placed in the program. This resulted in the Total production expenses in the loss of agricultural infrastructure including feed, county is $28 million; average fuel, and maintenance businesses. Losing these production expenses per farm is businesses and the infrastructure, jobs and $171,271 and $38 per acre. income that came with them, she shared, was Total net cash income in the county is damaging and had unmeasured impacts on the $17 million; average of $104,719 regional economy. As noted below, wind per farm and $23 per acre. farming could have a similar effect. Gilliam County and its farmers have not sat idlyIt is important to note though, that this data does by as time and circumstances have changednot tell the complete story of the changing face around them though. There are several groupsof farming in Gilliam County. While the average working within the county to change the systemsize of farms has decreased over time, many of how wheat is grown and marketed. One of thefarms have indeed grown in size. This does not successes highlighted by many is the Gilliamequate to increased income for the farmer County Grain Quality Laboratory. Located nearthough. As one resident suggested; when farms Arlington, the Laboratory works to increase theget bigger, they “are not more lucrative, there viability and success of local growers by helpingare not greater margins by expanding; it takes them value to their products.more inputs and is more expensive.” A more recent means of income generation on farm land in Gilliam County is revenue fromFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 11
  • wind development. Many farmers receive lease more than a few plants. It is more than just waterpayments from wind companies for the wind scarcity that affects growing conditions though,mills placed on their land. While these lease the varying climate plays a large role as well.payments have helped some farmers, others The longest growing seasons are in Arlingtonshared that they have served more as a stopgap and along a few lower elevation creeks. Condonand didn’t necessarily increased the farm’s and much of the county are at a high elevationincome. As one farmer explained, wind benefits and therefore experience higher fluctuations inhelp the land owner because it “puts stability temperatures and are more likely to have aunder the farm”. This is not necessarily an killing frost in late spring and early fall.increase in the expendable income, but it cankeep the farm from going further into debt. ALTERNATIVE AG. These limitations appearLand lease revenues will also allow some to be the main reasons that there are very fewfarmers to retire, which might diminish the total farmers growing for a local market. The U.S.amount of land under cultivation, or related Agriculture Census data (2007) counted sevenagro-economic activities in the county. Gilliam farms that grow fruits and vegetables on an unknown number of acres. We were not ableGilliam County grows an enormous amount of to find them during our investigation. Just a fewfood, far more than the county or state people were identified in the course of thisconsumes. While large scale, export-based project that grow or raise food to sell directly toconventional agriculture is a strength of Gilliam consumers within the region - several ranchersCounty and is critical to its economy, it doesn’t sell live or on the hoof, a blueberry grower and afeed the people that live within its borders. niche market wheat farmer direct-market to customers. Even the regular produce vendor at the Condon Community Farmers’ Market last year is not from Gilliam County, but came up every month from Wheeler County. Market supporters explain that it is “difficult getting local growers; sometimes we struggle to get just one vendor.” This lack of a locally or regionally focused food system leaves Gilliam County vulnerable to forces beyond their control, but also presents an GILLIAM COUNTY WHEAT FIELDS opportunity as consumers expressed interest in buying more locally produced food.It is not easy to grow crops Gilliam County,especially produce. In this arid region, water Foodscarcity is a serious limiting factor. In Condonwells have to be drilled hundreds of feet to reach The lack of locally-focused food and farmwater. And while Arlington was described as the activities and resources in Gilliam County is“banana belt” of the county, watering when the concerning when viewed through the lens ofwind is blowing, which is much of the time, was food security. There is very little food locallydescribed as foolish. Not only is watering grown available, yet there are several importantdifficult because of these factors, but those on pieces of the food system still funtioning.city water shared that it is too expensive to growFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 12
  • EMERGENCY FOOD. Nearly 70% of Gilliam Grocery stores in both towns accept SNAP andCounty residents live in Arlington and Condon WIC benefits. The Condon Communityand thus have good access to a relatively stable Farmers’ Market has a vendor that acceptsfood supply. Both towns have a food pantry and FDNP coupons and WIC vouchers. Outside offunctioning grocery stores. Residents are these sources, there are no other markets tofortunate to have this level of access to food; it access food in Gilliam County.is better than that of many of the surroundingcommunities in the region. The remaining 30% “Big stores out of town are the biggestof residents are not as fortunate though, as they threat.” Gilliam County grocerhave to travel to access food supplies and otherservices. The issues faced by rural independent grocers need to be better understood and moreThe pantries in Arlington and Condon are open thoughtfully considered by communityone day a month. Combined, they served 742 members. There were many complaints aboutemergency food boxes last year to 3090 people, shopping in local stores including “when youa 9% increase from 2008.There were stories of shop in town you have to get the stuff that ispeople missing the once-per-month distribution cheap; the fruits and vegetables are tooday because of time, travel and other conflicts expensive.” Another consumer went so far as toand challenges. Perhaps the two food pantries say, “When we shop here it costs an arm and amight explore being open more than one day a leg.”month to make it easier for clients to accessfood. Higher price are typically the reality of shopping in rural grocery stores, and Gilliam County is noGROCERY STORES. Rural grocery stores exception. These stores face barriers that chainhave received much coverage and recognition in stores in large towns and along transportationrecent years. Many communities have lost their corridors do not. In all of the interviews, Twogrocery stores or have stores that are not Boys was described as the exception; manyresponsive to community members. This is people do the majority of their shopping there.distressing because grocery stores are often the There were even stories of people from Fossilcornerstones of viable downtown or commercial coming to Condon to shop. The hard work anddistricts and if they fail, many other businesses commitment to high quality products andare at risk of failure as well. Vulnerable competitive prices were cited as reasons for theirpopulations are put at more risk as well because success. As one resident voice, “as far as fruitthey may not have a car, the time or money to and veggies go, you can’t beat them.”travel to towns far away to buy groceries. There are opportunities for growth in the retailArlington has Thrifty Foods and Condon has sector in Gilliam County. One store ownertwo grocery stores, B & C Grocery and Two shared that “[residents] don’t realize that ifBoys Meat and Grocery. All of these stores are another 25% of the population shopped hereindependently owned and operated. Each plays we’d build a bigger store. But they don’t thinkan important role in their local economy, like that.” Most people are driving to Theproviding access to food, stability for the local Dalles, Hermiston or Tri Cities for groceries.business environment and providing jobs.Interestingly, we learned that Two Boys is the When asked where residents get the majority oflargest private employer in Condon. their food, after grocery stores, 56% of theFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 13
  • consumer survey respondents said “sit-down food needs. Several people believe that there arerestaurant” and “grow it or raise it”. Although it policy and regulation changes that need to bewas generally agreed that people don’t have implemented to increase the consumption ofmoney to eat out anymore, and restaurants are wild foods, but most survey respondents (48%)hurting because of it. Arlington is the exception were interested in identifying, cooking andas there has been a large influx of workers preserving educational opportunities.building Shepherds Flat Wind Farm, a projectthat will be the largest land-based wind farm in So while there are good things happening aroundthe world when it is completed. the local food economy, the number one reason (95%) why people in Gilliam County don’t buy “Nothing is more rewarding than to plant a local food is that is it not available. Exploring seed and watch it grow and produce.” and supporting community-focused food and Rural county resident farm opportunities should be a next step for the communities. There was much interest in increasing the production of local food, and theGrowing and raising food for personal survey revealed that the top two things thatconsumption appears to be very important to the Gilliam County residents want are communitypeople in Gilliam County. Many people still gardens and farmers’ markets.grow their own food, but not without difficultybecause of water scarcity, the price of water inthe city and the climatic conditions. In Condon,another looming issue is the outdated city watersystem. It may need to be completely replaced in10-15 years and could have untold effects onavailability and cost of water for city residentsHistorically, animals were raised for personalconsumption, but it is no longer a commonpractice. A policy issue that arose was theinability of residents to raise animals withinCondon city limits. Gilliam County has always CONDON COMMUNITY FARMERS’ MARKETbeen indelibly linked to agriculture, yet severalresidents expressed their disappointment in not People want more fresh local food and it’s timebeing able to raise animals for themselves. for the County to come together and assure that there is more access to food for everyone within “I can’t even have a chicken in my backyard. the county no matter where they live or how You can have a chicken in downtown much money they have. Portland, but not in Condon.” For a snap shot of food and hunger statistics Condon “farming girl” please see "ADDRESSING HUNGER IN GILLIAM COUNTY (2009)", next page.Hunting and fishing are important food sourcesin Gilliam County. Fifty-six percent of surveyrespondents consider hunting, fishing orharvesting of wild food to be “somewhat” or“very” important to meeting their householdFrom Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 14
  • ADDRESSING HUNGER in Gilliam County, 2009GILLIAM COUNTY Oregon  In these hard economic times, many more people are hungry, especially children and seniors.  Federal food programs can help feed people and provide economic stimulus for local economies.  Gilliam County could bring in millions more federal dollars by reaching more eligible people. School Lunches, Breakfast, & SNAP/ Food Stamps Summer Meals In 2008 ~  146 people received SNAP/food stamps per month in Gilliam County.  $145,977 federal dollars were brought into the local economy. If all eligible people were enrolled in SNAP, Gilliam County would have received an additional $122,879 dollars each month in federal money and 171 additional people would have received help putting food on the table.In 2008 ~42.9% of all students were eligible for free HOW YOU CAN HELPand reduced price meals in Gilliam County. Of thosewho ate lunch:  Support public policies that help low-income  51% received school breakfast. people meet their basic needs.  None ate meals through the Summer Food  Support efforts to reach more people through Program. federal food assistance programs. If all who were eligible for free or reduced price lunch  Refer to the Act to End Hunger for more were served, Gilliam County would have received an ideas to address hunger in your county. For specific information additional $10,485 in federal dollars a year and fed an visitwww.oregonhunger.org additional 24 eligible low-income children. Women, Infants & Emergency Farm Direct AfterschoolChildren Program (WIC0*) Food Assistance Nutrition Program Meals & SnacksIn 2008, WIC served 7,072 In 2008, 680 food boxes Seniors and WIC families During the 2007/08 schoolpregnant or breast- provided emergency food redeemed $0 in the county year, 0 suppers werefeeding women, infants to help families make ends to buy fresh produce in served in high need areas.and children * under five, meet. 2008. Coupons may haverepresenting 45% of all been redeemed in nearbypregnant women (compared counties * WIC data for Gilliam County cannot be extracted from Umatilla – Marrow Head Start datato 40% statewide average). Gilliam County Demographic Information Total Population: 1,885 Children 0-18 years: 401  People in Poverty: 209 (11.1%)  Children in Poverty: 69 or (17.1%) From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 15
  • opportunities for youth to stay or return areCONCLUSION critical for the future health and wealth of theirWhen viewed through the lens of food security, communities.Gilliam County faces some serious issues. Yetthese issues are not unique to this county alone; “Perseverance is something that we’vemany of the food availability, accessibility and really lost.” Gilliam County farmeraffordability issues they face are common acrosseastern Oregon. In order to increase self-sufficiency and foodFor well over a hundred years wheat has been security for all residents and at the communitycentral to culture and the economy of Gilliam level many solutions were identified by theCounty. An enormous amount of wheat is grown residents of Gilliam County. Many are hopeful,within the County, and it is indelibly linked to yet recognize that to truly made headway thatglobal export markets. Yet, while this is a great “people have to begin to think differently andeconomic strength, very little food is grown long term.” This is beginning to happen aroundwithin the County for local consumption. Most food.of the food consumed comes in on truck from The opportunities outlined next incorporateplaces far away. many of those ideas offered throughout ourGilliam County has the lowest unemployment interviews, meetings and focus groups inrate in Oregon, a statistic of which many are Arlington, Condon and the County. The peopleproud. Yet stories shared with us revealed that that live within these communities are bestthe reality on the ground is much different than prepared to know what solutions are mostwhat the numbers tell. Gilliam County is in a achievable and needed, which is why most of thesteady population decline and the average age of action steps outlined here of from theresidents, and farmers, continues to grow. This community themselves. As it was so well put bywas a great concern of many of those we spoke one rural resident, “we have to do it ourselves; itwith because they realize that having has to come from here.”From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 16
  • OPPORTUNITIES IN GILLIAM COUNTYRecommendation 1: Increase outreach and networking around local food and farm opportunities.1. Establish a communication and support network to facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources.2. Connect with regional and state networks to further community food and farm efforts.3. Develop and implement a public education campaign on the benefits of healthy eating habits and a local food system.Recommendation 2: Expand educational opportunities for community members.1. Identify, and distribute cooking and meal planning materials at food pantries.2. Identify, and coordinate with gardening and agricultural education resources to increase gardening and agricultural entrepreneurial skills.3. Identify and coordinate with current nutrition educators and experts to implement projects to increase understanding and the practice of healthy eating habits.4. Identify existing, or develop educational resources to build knowledge about hunting, fishing and harvesting wild foods; specific areas might include identification, cooking, preservation, rights and responsibilities.Recommendation 3: Explore and support community-focused food and farm opportunities, ideasand resources.1. Recognize community and economic development through local food as a legitimate strategy.2. Encourage the development of community gardens, and the success and expansion of existing gardens.3. Identify and consider small scale production strategies.4. Encourage development of more local food and farm entrepreneurial opportunities, specifically CSAs, farm stands, meat slaughter and processing, U-pick and value-added enterprises.Recommendation 4: Increase the number of venues featuring local or regionally produced food.1. Establish, expand and support farmers’ markets as a way to provide regular access to fresh, local or regional food.2. Explore interest in farm-to-school programs, and establish where feasible.3. Identify institutional food purchasers and engage and educate them about purchasing locally or regionally produced food.From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 17
  • 4. Increase the amount of local or regionally produced food available in grocery stores and restaurants.Recommendation 5: Ensure regular access to a stable fresh food supply for all citizens year-round.1. Increase the amount of fresh food available at food pantries.2. Establish FDNP and WIC Fruit and Veggie Voucher retailers in every community.3. Increase knowledge and understanding of the SNAP program.4. Establish programs that feed children including summer lunch, fresh snacks, breakfast, dinner and weekend meals.5. Ensure that food is considered in the County emergency management plans.6. Establish appropriate gleaning options at all levels of the food system, when and wherever possible.From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Gilliam County, OR Page | 18
  • CHAPTER 3—MORROW COUNTY HAYFIELDS AND WINDMILLS IN NORTH MORROW COUNTY Introduction county - which receive approximately 8 inches annually. Land of sunshine, deep soils and minimal water, this county has provided rich hunting, gathering, Morrow is the second largest in both population grazing and farming opportunities for centuries. and land mass of the four counties in this study, It comprises the southern-most edge of the and boasts five incorporated towns, seven Columbia Plateau, and the western-most portion unincorporated towns, and the ghost town of of the Confederated Umatilla Tribes Ceded Hardman. Of the 11,553 county residents, just Lands, with treaty- protected rights of use to this over 7,000 are counted as residents in the day. It is now home to residents of all stripes and incorporated towns. This leaves another four colors, employed largely in food and farming- thousand individuals living in very rural or based economic activities and lifestyles. unincorporated areas, perhaps far from food and community resources. The County population Like its neighbors to the south and south-west has fluctuated up and down by approximately (Gilliam, Grant and Wheeler), "rugged county" 10% over the past decade. But overall, in is both the official and informal motto of this contrast to the other counties, it has almost county, and it is well-earned. High rolling and tripled in population the past 30 years. wind-swept hills bisected with deep furrowed canyons create a sense of both expansiveness Approximately half of the countys residents live and seclusion. On its south flank rise the Blue in the two northern towns of Irrigon and Mountains, supplying up to 16 inches of Boardman. These towns are connected by three precipitation per year to land and out-flowing enormous transportation systems - the Columbia streams. This is twice the amount of rainfall River, transcontinental rail lines and the received in the central and north sections of the Interstate highway. These arterials provide in-From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 19
  • and outflow of goods and people, an ebb and Boardman, two gas-fired plants at the Port, flow of money and opportunities that form the geothermal and even methane digesters. And as basis of a lucrative port and transport-based in other wind-swept high Plateau counties, you export economy. Perhaps because of these will now see giant windmills tilting at a new physical connections, the communities and kind of energy. individuals of the north relate more closely to their eastern Umatilla neighbors, with whom People they share many similarities in climate, The people of Morrow County have come from demographics and agricultural opportunities. all walks of life and all parts of the world. The dryer southern half of Morrow, in contrast, Native cultures have variously lived with and/or is defined by the canyons and moderate flows of clashed with newcomers, a pattern repeating and Willow Creek and its tributaries, tying together reversing itself through time and history with several small towns (Heppner, Lexington, Ione) waves of new immigrants and ethnicities. like beads on a string. Through distance and This section explores what our assessments other geographic features these towns are identified as the important "people", or social relatively isolated - geographically, socially and capital elements: diversity, education, health and economically - from the populous and diverse cultural identity. For a snap shot of demographic northern "micropolitan" areas along the I-84 and hunger information and statistics, please see corridor. The residents here resemble and relate "ADDRESSING HUNGER in Morrow County, to their historic wheat farming and ranching 2009", page 27. neighbors on the high Columbia Plateau. This cultural and geographic distance between north South Morrow County residents have cultivated and south creates a complex picture for and preserved a lively, relatively European addressing farm and food opportunities and food cultural and farming heritage (Irish, Basque, security challenges in this county. Welsh, Scottish, Swedish, to name a few that figure in the mix), with long, deep relationships within their communities and to the "rugged country" they live in. This appears to supports a strong sense of cohesion, self-sufficiency and care for each other. And perhaps, a sense of insularity. Relative homogeneity makes it easier to identify and perhaps organize around specific needs and opportunities in the southern area, which we COLUMBIA RIVER IN NEAR IRRIGON understand is the norm here. Yet this can also Principal industries in the county today include make it more difficult to identify and implement agriculture, lumber, livestock, and recreation, change if there are cultural barriers to bringing with agriculture employing upwards of 22% of in new resources and ideas. the population. Morrow may also be unique in the representative energy facilities and the On the other end, the northern portion of the employment opportunities they bring - hydro- county has drawn significant numbers of new electric dams, a coal-fired generating plant in people from outside the region to work in the government, agricultural and manufacturingFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 20
  • sectors. Expanding Hispanic and other minority A large number (82%) of respondents surveyed populations have found a niche in Morrows expressed concern with poor diet and nutrition in entry-level and subsistence work opportunities, the county. It is encouraging to note that riding a roller-coaster of needs and cooking, gardening, health and nutrition opportunities. Not only does this influence the concerns also ranked relatively high: sixty-eight socio-economic and ethnic mix, it has increased percent of the respondents requested increased the number of young people enrolled in schools, education around gardening, nutrition, food in other programs for youth and families, and in cooking and preservation and the job market. The demand for services and food are more visible, and more visibly met in Also heartening are the number of good ways to the north. Here diversity - of language, culture, meet the health, nutrition and education need experience and education - make it more that are very close to home. difficult to identify, categorize and meet needs. When volunteering with the High School I met CONNECTIVITY. There did not appear to be students who had never peeled a vegetable or strong connections between north and south, sliced an onion. They loved the opportunity which hinders communication, awareness, trust and wished something like home economics and creative solution-building for the county as a was available so that they could learn these whole. Capacity for growth and resilience at the basic skills." - OSU Extension volunteer county-level is limited when connectivity is limited. In addition to school breakfasts and summer HEALTH. A number of statistics provide a feeding programs, many schools around the snapshot of the relative health and quality of life region have long had gardens and greenhouses. for individuals and families here. First, Classroom activities of the Future Farmers of education plays an important part in America and 4-H programs utilize them as part employment and earnings, in health and well- of their agricultural education. South Morrow being: in 2009, Morrow County registered the County (Ione and Heppner) has two such highest number of adults without high school programs in their schools that provide diplomas (over 25%), and second highest exceptional skill-building, entrepreneurial and unemployment rate of 8.7%. As a whole, opportunities for their students, and potentially Morrow County has a higher rate of children and for their school food and nutrition programs. elders in poverty - 20% and 10%, respectively - They stand as good examples for others to learn compared to the rest of the region and state. In from. Another educational resource is the OSU some county school districts, over 94% of the Extension Service which provides agricultural, children qualify for free and reduced price food and nutrition training. The Master meals, while in other districts the numbers hover Gardeners program has a number of trained in the 30% range. volunteers in this county; along with Of our four counties, Morrow has the highest independent gardening clubs there is good rate of diabetes in the Counties studied (8.4% of support for both long-time and beginning garden adults), ranks second in obesity rates (over 27% efforts. Further, the Extension program has also of the adult population), and has the highest rate staffed and trained volunteers to serve in the of infant mortality (NW Indicators, 2009). Family Nutrition Education Program and Master Food Preservers/Family Food Educators whoFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 21
  • can be employed in our region in a variety of from abundant water, as some of the nations ways. In the mid- to longer-term OSU Extension largest corporate food processors and exporters Service should also be encouraged to find ways do business in the northern part of the county. to serve more rural eastern communities with these programs. In regards to farming and agriculture, Morrow County looks very good "on paper": it ranks first Agriculture in the state for the quantity and dollar value of the livestock raised; second in potato, wheat, and Early sheep and cattlemen found an abundance legume crops; and third in the state, close behind of native rye along the creek bottoms of the Umatilla county, in terms of the value of gross region and drove their herds in to forage on farm and ranch sales. these natural pastures. The towns of Lexington and Ione began as sheep stations and over two Further examination of the 2007 Agricultural million pounds of wool were shorn and sold Census numbers (USDA, box below) show that from this county in 1910. The 1911 Oregon the average production expenses on Morrow Bureau of Labor Biennial Report also noted that farms as $275/ acre, with an average net income the county was home to a butter factory, three of $65 per acre. The gap between the costs flour mills, dairies, cool storage facilities, soap- makers, meat markets and numerous grocery and returns of typical farm production cause stores that served the local communities. many to ponder the benefits and value of current, conventional agricultural activities. WEALTH. More recently, north Morrow has experienced rapid growth with development of Government payments (a mix of dairy, food processing, product distribution, tree commodity, conservation and land- farms (second highest production in the nation), retirement programs) to farms in Morrow and other activities. (Indicators Northwest, have increased by 44% between 2002 and 2008). Economically, Morrow boasts a 2007 (averaging $47,000 per farm). relatively high median income (over $45,000) and also a lower per capita income ($14,000) FARMS IN MORROW COUNTY than the rest of Oregon, partly to due to the 421 farms on 1,104,250 acres. diversity of the population and type and variety BY THE NUMBERS Estimated value of land and building per of employment options available. farm is $1.9 million or $973 per acre. The county divides into three main agricultural Total production expenses in the county occupational zones of irrigated crops, wheat and are $303 million; average production ranch lands in the central area and timberlands in the south east corner of the Blues. The advent expenses per farm is $721,383 or of center pivot technology for irrigation has been $275 per acre. a further stimulus to the local economy of the Total net cash income in the county is north, allowing for large-scale irrigated crops. A $354 million; averaging $170,760 drive through the agri-business loop at the Port per farm and $65 per acre. of Morrow reveals the advantage that comesFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 22
  • People were vocal about the vicious cycles and unintended consequences of subsidies, Tin Willow Dairy - Lexington, OR and what solutions might be created for Terry Felda, owner of Tin Willow sheep dairy, more local self-reliance and sustenance. arrived in Lexington by serendipity four years ago, and stays put because of the just-right Stories heard on visits to Morrow are that many conditions for raising and marketing her high- farms are getting bigger and are very productive, quality specialty sheeps milk here. but they are not necessarily more profitable, nor easily passed on to the next generation. The Though sheep once roamed Morrow consideration and choice to farm or ranch is not County in great numbers and served many simply an economical one - it is cultural and functions, residents are now incredulous, social, too. Residents value their agricultural asking, can you really milk a sheep?! Felda says heritage and identity and are concerned about they also wonder about eating cheese and meat the ability of their children to live here and from sheep - until they sample it, succulent and participate in the activities that provide a straight from the grill! But she says, “I still wonderful quality of life and lifestyle. At least 42% of those surveyed here report that one of dont know if my products would sell here, as their top three concerns about the food they eat people arent used to eating lamb and sheep is that it provides a livable wage for those products anymore." engaged in making and growing it. The average Now in its third year of operation, Tin age of a Morrow County farmer is 58 years old Willow is successfully paying all bills and and half of them report that their primary source expenses associated with the operation, and of income is not from the farm. And the "sticker Felda plans to double the herd from 125 to 250 price" of a Morrow County farm is nearly two head. Next she hopes to purchase land rather million dollars, leading to the obvious question than leasing as she now does. of who will purchase and farm those acreages in To their advantage, sheeps milk, unlike the future. cows, can be frozen without changing FRUIT & VEGGIE FARMS. USDA Ag characteristics. Felda can freeze and ship milk Census (2007) stated that over 50 farms grow anytime, anywhere, in any quantity, allowing fruit and vegetables on 21,000 acres in this great flexibility in marketing, storage and County, ranking it second/third in the State for distribution. Tin Willow currently direct- this production. These crops do not appear to be markets milk to their main buyers, The Black accessible to many local purchasers, though Sheep cheese company in WA, who purchase much is donated through a gleaning program, and transport straight from the farm. Terry and through the Oregon Food Bank. produces more milk than these buyers need and In 2007 twenty-six farmers in this county will soon be looking for new buyers and sellers reported (to USDA) selling directly to customers in the future, typically in more urban areas. - compared to one farmer in Gilliam, six in Tin Willow is updating and reintroducing a Wheeler and 217 in Umatilla County. Even so, once-familiar, rich element of its agri-culture, its their products were not easy to identify or locate. Irish shepherding days. Current trends and statistics show this to be an underutilized economic opportunity forFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 23
  • agricultural growers. This CFA noted the Local food equals local water. So the critical increased demand for, and benefits and unanswered question - what about the water? - economic return to farmers who grow and sell looms. With water constraints everywhere in the farm-direct in local markets. Farm income region, creativity and prioritized use of water diversification and localization could be the next must be employed when considering the value of generations agricultural opportunity and capacity for local food production. One Morrow County CFA recommendation includes assessing and utilizing alternative water conservation and food production technologies and strategies appropriate for the more arid southern region, while optimizing the north countys ability to access water and grow food crops to the benefit of county customers. With greater access to water rights and a suitable plot of land, north-end growers could supply the fruit and vegetable needs of many north and south- end resident through farm-direct sales. We dont STANDING TALL FOR THE NEXT GENERATION? know what issues and answers lie ahead with regard to water, but this is a topic that will ALTERNATIVE AG. And as seen in the sidebar remain critical, and will likely need critical story on Tin Willow Dairy, above, though sheep creativity and cooperation on the part of the dont figure so prominently now as in the past, county and its residents. there is hope -a relatively new small-scale successful farm-direct sheep farm/dairy operation in Lexington that sells high quality Food milk directly to a Washington-based cheese- Drive over the northern county line and you can maker, and other customers if projected growth literally smell the abundance of food being continues. grown, created or stored in fields, dairies, granaries, food manufacturing and processing The consumer survey conducted this year facilities of Morrow County. Our regions food indicated that people were interested buying system is set-up to produce and deliver millions more food at farm-stands and u-pick in of pounds of food to millions of people around operations, as well as in restaurants, stores, the globe as efficiently as possible - especially in schools and hospitals. This indicates a clear Morrow County. Food system elements such as opportunity for increasing food and economic ports, packing plants, storage and warehousing security for those who might make that change. have been enlarged and centralized in Morrow For newly emerging local food enterprises, and abroad for mass distribution and purchasing. attracting both customers and suppliers go hand- in-hand with the recommendation to increase These businesses provide employment and jobs education and public outreach explaining the of varying pay scales, and much-needed benefits, options and technicalities of growing donations to the gleaners and food pantries. But and eating locally. this segment of the food industry by itself does not directly enhance or stabilize long-term self- reliance or food security for residents. By thisFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 24
  • we mean improving the accessibility, accessibility for all residents of these towns is availability and affordability of locally produced very limited. They must travel 10-15 miles or food (influenced by the combination of wages, more to purchase groceries of any sort, production, distribution and direct local sales). prompting the Rural Sociological Society to call them "food deserts" (areas in which residents Locally-produced and/or processed food is sent must drive more than 10 miles to reach a grocery away for value-adding, and returned to the store). It can become a vicious cycle: population shelves of local grocers in many different forms loss is one of the greatest challenges to keeping for sale to residents and the producers who viable grocery stores and other enterprises in created them. business, and the loss of a grocery store can cause a decline in families shopping in town GROCERY STORES. When asked where their food comes from the answer here is the same as and force other nearby retailers out of business. for most places across America - "the store". Regarding local food, the majority of survey Residents of Heppner and Boardman patronize respondents in Morrow County indicated they their grocery stores for nearly 100% their food would like more options to purchase local food needs. And where the store gets it might be at retail stores and restaurants, farmers-markets, anyones guess. In Heppner, that food comes farm stands and u-pick farms. Happily, as from a distributor out of Spokane (in other revealed in our first annual Local Food & Farm counties food comes from other distant Guide (another product of this Community Food directions across the state). Assessment), this opportunity is being acted on by a number of individuals in Morrow County “There is no shortage of food or trucks to who buy, sell and grow their own meats and Heppner—we have 7-9 trucks of food veggies to prepare and sell as part of their retail, arriving weekly to service our grocery store.” restaurant and/or catering businesses. One - Heppner grocer Irrigon peach grower has a ready institutional customer - a local grocery store over the county Both of these successful full-service stores line in Umatilla. Our inquiries suggest that education and training of growers and grocers accept the Oregon Trail/SNAP cards, and WIC would help overcome perceived barriers for coupons. Both work hard to offer what customers want and need at affordable prices. In more locally-produced food making its way onto very rural areas this is not easy. In addition to local shelves. supplying healthy food, healthy grocery stores are critical to sustaining a healthy local shopping environment and anchoring a commercial area, obvious to visitors in downtown Heppner and in the growing shopping district of Boardman. Residents in the smaller towns of Irrigon, Ione, Lexington and other very small or unincorporated towns, are not so lucky. With no full-service grocery stores WIC and SNAP are accepted only at the deli and two convenience stores, which means the food availability and PEACH TREES IN IRRIGONFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 25
  • Irrigon, with its abundant water resources, was in the economy. And no matter how one views once known as "fruit-stand alley"; it has seen a Federal supplemental nutrition programs such as decrease in farm stands over the years, though a SNAP and the WIC Veggie Voucher program, few new farm-direct enterprises have recently these programs bring more money into the opened and in 2010 a small farmers market was community and food to those who need it: In started here. With work it can succeed. 2008, through the SNAP (food stamp) program, $1.7 million dollars entered the Morrow FARMERS MARKETS. At their three-year old economy. If all the eligible people in Morrow farmers market, Heppner residents will find were enrolled receive this basic right, an small, but increasing, quantities of produce additional $593,942 dollars each month would grown in the Willow Creek watershed by local exchange hands, and an additional 761 people residents and from further afield, if procurable. would have help putting food on the table. (NW Tales of individuals taking the entrepreneurial Indicators, 2008). plunge into direct-customer sales at Heppners Willow Creek farmers market include a GLEANING. Of particular interest to folks in Heppner gelato maker, a local business owner this region is the gleaning project (the only one and grower, and a high school student we found), called the Columbia River capitalizing on his FFA greenhouse experience. Harvesters. This non-profit organization is a unique, membership-based food provider that Neither of the two Morrow County farmers sustains families in Boardman and far beyond. markets are able to accept food stamps (SNAP) Through the diligence of a well-connected or the nutrition coupon programs for seniors and director and staff products are "gleaned" from WIC families at present. However, several of storage facilities, grocery stores and warehouses, the fruit and vegetable stands along highway and directly from growers. These donated foods 730, the northern scenic route west along the are brought to the Boardman gleaners small Columbia River, do accept the Farm-Direct facility to be sorted, frozen or cool-stored and Nutrition Program (FDNP) coupons for fresh distributed to the dues-paying participants to food; a fortuitous seasonal blessing, as the only supplement meager take-home wages and meals. store in Irrigon that takes SNAP has a very little in the way of healthy fresh, whole foods. This gleaning model seems to work, in part, because of the proximity to large-scale food and The purpose of food system re-localization is to agricultural operations that provide large make more healthy high quality food available quantities of food already boxed and available to all residents, no matter where they live, at for pick-up. This minimizes the liability of affordable rates. Short and longer-term goals having volunteers pick or handle it and fit the include expanding the number of venues, style of the donating operations. Based on retailers, restaurants, farmers markets and farm demand there seems to be reason to expand or stands alike that buy and sell local food, and that replicate this organization; and also based on can also accept nutrition program purchase demand, there may be other more traditional vouchers such as WIC and SNAP. models that would meet the needs and requests Expanding the number of alternative marketing of those who have food - for human and purchasing opportunities would allow more consumption and/or for animal or composting money to circulate into the hands of neighbors operations - thereby closing the loop of food and family, creating more local wealth and depth production and waste. Other gleaning groups inFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 26
  • The Dalles and Walla Walla also serve people in energy assistance program serves up to one need from our region. hundred people from the southern towns, many of whom could receive food assistance to help Community gardens have also been started or ease financial burdens. According to the Oregon expanded in several communities with varying Food Bank, Heppners is one of the few pantries levels of participation and success. A new in the state under-serving the number of community garden in Boardman, and one in a potentially income-eligible people (counted as low-income housing complex in Irrigon are pounds per person, distributed through the being developed in successful public-private pantry system. April, 2010). These figures raise partnerships, from which many opportunities more questions than answers, and remains to be and good food may be cultivated. Ione and explored more deeply. Anecdotal information Heppner have active and promising combined received through interviews and informal school greenhouses and community gardens that feedback relayed that southern residents were have encouraged entrepreneurial food and taken care of by other means; while a few stated nursery production for students. that they were occasionally denied food (for not And last, but not least - at the very local level being "really needy"); and other individuals there is an encouraging amount of food went to Irrigon, Hermiston and Pendleton production happening right in peoples pantries to request emergency food support. backyards - approximately 63% of the Other sources of free or affordable food are respondents state that they grow at least some of school meals, and community meal sites. The their own food. This is a good sign, as fresh, school lunch program has expanded over the healthy food is the most direct link to years to include other meals, and other family maintaining individual health. This topic is members, at free and reduced rates. Over sixty- addressed on the following page- "Addressing seven percent of Morrow County children were Hunger in MORROW COUNTY, 2009" (Oregon eligible for free and reduced meals. If all those Hunger Relief Task Force). eligible for those lunches had participated an EMERGENCY FOOD. At present, County additional $150,148 could have been received to serve nearly 340 eligible children. Roughly 45% emergency food needs appear to be met. This system includes two food pantries, a senior meal of them received the breakfasts and summer site and the only gleaning operation in the food that they also qualified for. region, the Columbia River Harvesters in In Heppner, the senior housing complex serves a Boardman. The Morrow County food pantries in noon meal mainly for community elders. Two Heppner and Boardman serve very distinct new monthly meals, breakfasts and lunches has populations, and together gave out a total of 780 recently been organized by several churches. household emergency food boxes serving 2129 individuals in 2009. Of that total, the Irrigon "Across the street at the Methodist Church pantrys weekly distribution served 577 free breakfast was being offered each month. emergency food boxes to households in support The Lutheran church decided that we could of 1766 individuals. offer our support to expand and make this a The Heppner food pantry, located in their stronger, more successful effort." Community Center, is open four days per week - Church organizer and served many fewer customers. CAPECOsFrom Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 27
  • They serve any and all community members, families and children. These informal, open-to- all, donation-based and/or free meals can increase the sense of belonging and taking care of everyone in the community, not just the "needy". Such a move can reduce any under- lying fear of judgment and embarrassment of needing food in tight-knit communities.From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Morrow County, OR Page | 28
  • ADDRESSING HUNGER in Morrow County, 2009MORROW COUNTY Oregon  In these hard economic times, many more people are hungry, especially children and seniors.  Federal food programs can help feed people and provide economic stimulus for local economies.  Morrow County could bring in millions more federal dollars by reaching more eligible people. School Lunches, Breakfast, & SNAP/ Food Stamps Summer Meals In 2008 ~  1,567 people received SNAP/food stamps per month in Morrow County.  $1.7 million federal dollars were brought into the local economy. If all eligible people were enrolled in SNAP, Morrow County would have received an additional $593,942 dollars each month in federal money and 761 additional people would have received help putting food on the table. HOW YOU CAN HELPIn 2008 ~ 67.6% of all students were eligible for freeand reduced price meals in Morrow County. Of those  Support public policies that help low-incomewho ate lunch: people meet their basic needs.  Support efforts to reach more people through  46% of them received breakfast. federal food assistance programs.  44% ate meals through the Summer Food  Refer to the Act to End Hunger for more ideas Program. to address hunger in your county. If all who were eligible for free or reduced price lunch For specific information were served, Morrow County would have received an visitwww.oregonhunger.org additional $150,148 in federal dollars a year and fed an additional 338 eligible low-income children. Women, Infants & Emergency Farm Direct AfterschoolChildren Program (WIC)* Food Assistance Nutrition Program Meals & SnacksIn 2008, WIC served 7,072 In 2008, 544 food boxes Seniors and WIC families During the 2007/08 schoolpregnant or breast- provided emergency food redeemed $228 in coupons year, 0 suppers werefeeding women, infants to help families make ends to buy fresh produce in served in high need areas.and children* under five, meet. 2008, which supportedrepresenting 45% of all local farmers.pregnant women (comparedto 40% statewide average). * WIC data for Morrow County cannot be extracted from Umatilla – Morrow Head Start data Morrow County Demographic Information Total Population: 12,485 Children 0-18 years: 3,507  People in Poverty: 1,885 (15.1%)  Children in Poverty: 726 (20.7%) Page | 29
  • CONCLUSION to pay the relatively higher prices at rural mom and pop stores are dependent on limited localTo summarize, Morrow County is one of the and personal resources and may be in jeopardylargest food producers in the state and region. of food insecurity. Morrow residents at bothThe entire "food pyramid" is grown here, from ends of the age spectrum, young and old, are lessgrains and legumes, root crops, orchards, row food and health secure, living on limited or fixedcrops, cows, sheep, goats, pheasants, dairy incomes and experiencing higher levels ofproducts, chickens and eggs. In conventional economic and nutrition-related challenges.terms, they look relatively well-off,economically and otherwise. However, by our Two fledgling farmers markets and possiblecriteria of local food availability, accessibility new farm stands may provide greater local foodand affordability - there is room for access, availability and affordability over time.improvement as very little food stays within the In our surveys residents recognized the need forreach of county residents. greater education to improve health and nutrition, which may be conducted throughMorrows most apparent challenge is the farmers markets and other farm-direct venues, asdistance (geographic, economic and cultural) well as schools and food pantries.between its northern, more industrial, water-richand populous region along the Columbia river In Morrow, as elsewhere, emergency plans seemand interstate freeway, and the southern, more to overlook the need for a safe, sustainable,isolated half, historically representing rural healthy food supply being produced as close toranching and farming activities. Bridging this home as possible, for both emergency and non-distance will improve the entire countys ability emergent situations. Economic and communityto optimize its resources and opportunities. development plans are also void of detail for expanding local entrepreneurial activities basedThis north-south divide may have been one on food or farming activities.reason that Morrow was the only county to notconduct a FEAST (Food Education Agriculture With its enormous spectrum of economic andSolutions Together), or organize a community agricultural activities, social and culturalfood "stakeholders" group to participate directly influences, energy resources, land and water,in the CFA, or the development and review of Morrow County is in an enviable place ofthis document and our findings. Various possibility if these elements are optimized formeetings were held, and those informants felt it their countys common good, food security andpremature to conduct a community or county- future.wide conversation about local food. We regretthe lack of "ground-truthing" this represents and Our broad recommendation is to act morehope that the CFA will spur or dovetail with intentionally to expand opportunities on behalffuture county food and farming conversations. of the entire county to become more self-reliant, integrated and creative in developing a localIn terms of food security, Heppner and food system. Resources of CAPECO and otherBoardman residents food choices and needs are agencies and organizations will likely belargely being met through home-town grocery available for future activity in this arena. Thestores and emergency services in their town. recommendations that follow were developed asOther communities residents drive up to ten or a starting point for more conversation, andmore miles to reach full-service grocery stores, brainstorming by the locals.pantries, or meal sites. Those unable to drive or Page | 30Our Roots: Agriculture, Food & the People of Morrow County, Oregon
  • OPPORTUNITIES IN MORROW COUNTYRecommendation 1: Explore and support community-appropriate, small-scale food production. 1. Recognize and use local food as a legitimate community and economic development strategy. 2. Assess interests and issues of Hispanic, beginning farmer, and minority communities. 3. Identify and consider new or alternative small-scale production models and strategies. 4. Encourage development of more local food and farm entrepreneurial opportunities, specifically more farm stands, U-pick options, and greenhouse operations. 5. Develop solutions that address water (availability, cost) issues.Recommendation 2: Increase number of venues buying and selling local or regional food. 1. Increase the amount of local or regionally produced food available in grocery stores and restaurants. 2. Explore interest in school-based food programs - summer lunch, snack programs, Farm-to-school program, and gardens. Establish programs where feasible. 3. Identify large purchasers of food, engage and educate them about purchasing local or regional food - e.g. school districts, hospital, retailers.Recommendation 3: Expand educational opportunities for community members. 1. Identify existing, or develop educational resources to build knowledge about hunting, fishing and harvesting wild foods; specific areas might include identification, cooking, preservation, rights and responsibilities. 2. Identify and coordinate with nutrition educators and experts to increase understanding and the practice of healthy eating habits. 3. Identify and increase use of food growing and gardening education resources, especially for children, community and home gardeners. 4. Expand and coordinate food preservation education and outreach activities. 5. Expand agricultural opportunities for youth, focusing on new and alternative crops, value-added ventures, and business education.Recommendation 4: Increase outreach and networking around local food and farm opportunities. 1. Develop and implement a public education campaign on the benefits of healthy eating habits and a local food system 2. Establish a communication and support network to facilitate the sharing of ideas and resources Page | 31Our Roots: Agriculture, Food & the People of Morrow County, Oregon
  • 3. Connect with regional and state networks to further community food and farm efforts 4. Conduct or share local purchasing training and education for retail establishmentsRecommendation 5: Ensure regular access to a stable fresh food supply for all citizens year-round. 1. Explore use and need for emergency food sources, e.g. pantries, congregate meal sites 2. Increase the amount of fresh food available at food pantries 3. Ensure that food is considered in Morrow County emergency management plans 4. Increase knowledge and understanding of the SNAP program 5. Establish programs that feed children including summer lunch, fresh snacks, breakfast, dinner and weekend meals 6. Establish retail venues with fresh healthy food that accept WIC Fruit and Veggie Vouchers, Farm-Direct Nutrition coupons and SNAP in every community. 7. Establish appropriate gleaning opportunities at various levels the food system (whether field, farmers market, or food processing or retail facilities). Page | 32Our Roots: Agriculture, Food & the People of Morrow County, Oregon
  • CHAPTER 4—UMATILLA COUNTY UMATILLA COUNTY PEA FARM AND THE BLUE MOUNTAINS FOOTHILLSIntroduction County lies west, and Grant is its south boundary.Blessed by an envious variety of soils, climates,water sources, farm types, sizes and The Blue Mountains span a wide arc fromcommunities, Umatilla County is one of the Washington in the north south across the countygreatest agricultural producers in the state and state-line, into neighboring Grant County,(second behind Marion County), and contains and westward into Wheeler County, the fourthsome of the only "prime" (Class 2) farmland east County of our Community Food Assessment.of the Willamette Valley (as defined in the These mountains add much to the region,NRCS National Soil Survey Handbook, 1996). beyond recreation, including higher elevation,It is large, diverse and relatively well-off, precipitation, soil depth, and greatly differingbeyond just food and agriculture. Because of the growing challenges and opportunities. Umatillacomplexity and diversity in this county, the topography ranges in elevation from 4,193 feetscope of this chapter is very limited. A much at their summit down to 296 feet at the town ofdeeper dialogue and exploration is needed to Umatilla. Proceeding west across the uplandsbring together the people, ideas, assets and from The Blues are large dry land wheat andopportunities that such a complex area, and food cattle operations, as well as many irrigated largesystem deserve. and small-scale orchards, fruit and vegetable farms and vineyards.A SENSE OF PLACE. Umatilla County isbounded on its eastern edge by the Blue The headwaters of the Umatilla River emanateMountain range, the diminished Reservation of from the Blue Mountains and flowsthe Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indians approximately 85 miles west to the tiny town of(CTUIR) and Union County. The Columbia Umatilla and into the Columbia River. ThisRiver flows along its north edge, Morrow river now feeds crops and salmon, a fairly recently improved situation. Water rights, in- Page | 33From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • stream flows and irrigation are augmented by The above attributes comprise the countys basicwaters from two reservoirs, Cold Springs and natural resources, the foundation of the qualityMcKay, and the Columbia River, arrived at of life and wealth of the area.through serious negotiation between water-rightsholders, the Tribes and natural resource Peopleagencies. These negotiations created strong People -the main reason for having a CFArelationships and a positive foundation for conversation! The catalysts for solving hungerinteraction and development in many arenas. and food security issues, and implementers ofUmatilla precipitation ranges from an average of projects for thriving local food and farms, in thisapproximately 8 inches a year in low-lying County, there are many people doing all of thisHermiston to just over 18” in Weston at the base and more.of the Blue Mountains (Taylor, 2000). Umatilla A demographic profile shows Umatilla is theCounty has more surface water than the other most diverse county of the four included in ourthree counties, with access to the Columbia and Community Food Assessment, with significantUmatilla Rivers, and many year-round and number of Hispanic, Native Americans andephemeral streams. Groundwater is used for other minorities among it ranks. Its 2007irrigation in the west end - which is also population was 78,526, making it also the mostdesignated as a "Critical Groundwater Area", densely populated county in eastern Oregon.with high rates of nitrate pollution and rapidlydiminishing water tables. There is a small, but Umatilla is the fortunate home to over 20%rising competition between agriculture, Hispanic, Native American and other minorities.municipal and economic needs in this area. This diversity can be a tangible asset when, and if, integration and interaction of individuals,The county is 3,231 square miles (20,678,040 cultures and ideas are incorporated for new,acres) with the land mass of the diminished adaptive ways of doing things. As an exampleReservation of the Confederated Tribes of the of entrepreneurial exploitation, almost 50% ofUmatilla Indians (CTUIR) containing roughly the Pendleton Farmers Market growers are of271 of those acres (drifting just over the Union other minority cultures, filling a gap in the farm-county line). CTUIR is home to approximately direct agricultural niche that conventional2,927 people and many plants and animals that growers have not yet.comprise their own local and "first foods". Three-quarters of the entire regions populationUmatilla County’s primary economic drivers are lives in Umatilla County, and three-quarters ofgovernment and health care services, and these live in the "micropolitan" areas ofwholesale/retail activities. Agriculture Pendleton Hermiston and Milton-Freewater.(excluding forestry) employs just 7.4 percent of Roughly 40 miles from each other, thesethe population. (Indicators Northwest, 2010). municipalities house, educate, feed and employPorts, airport and major transportation hubs almost equal numbers of Umatilla Co. residentsprovide substantial distribution and development with varying degrees of success. Each has aoptions, as do the military installations at the unique social and physical climate, differentwest end of the county. physical and environmental assets, population compositions, economic drivers and capacity to raise, distribute and sell food Page | 34From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • WEALTH. Larger urban areas generally brings for Disease Control,2007). Individuals surveyedopportunities - larger markets, more economic seem to be more aware of the dangers related toactivity and employment, greater diversity, and this situation; school districts, health providers,higher education levels to name a few. This farmers market surveys, and the CFA consumerseems to hold true especially for Hermiston and surveys show high interest in gardening andPendleton, and Milton-Freewater to a lesser food preservation, as well as wild fooddegree (it has a lower median income and more identification. Education levels are also usualseasonal employment than the other two towns). implicated in individual health and nutritionAs mentioned earlier, the countys main statistics, which for this county are very poor.economic drivers are not agricultural (eventhough Umatilla is the second largest producer EDUCATION. Academic education andin the state) but "other services" which, when matriculation rates in Umatilla County arecombined with government and health care similar to the other counties for high school,services, totals over 50% of the employment college and upper level graduates and reflect theopportunities. Other strong sectors (>10% each) level and type of employment/income that canincluded retail/ wholesale and undefined self- be commanded or recruited.employment. The remaining 15% including Public schools work hard to provide up-to-dateagriculture, forestry, manufacturing, curricula and teachers. A few of the smallerconstruction and transportation- related jobs all independent Umatilla County academiccontributed to a median household income of institutions or districts are taking steps to expand$42,338 (a real wage of $34,107) in 2008 (NW or create curriculums and educationalIndicators). opportunities relating to gardening and healthyUnpublished wages appear to have gone up in food production and consumption. These include2010, but the latest confirmed seasonally Umatilla SD, and Umatilla-Morrow Headstartadjusted unemployment figures have reached pre-K programs. In addition to agriculture9.7% (OR state rate is 10.5%), placing 15% of classes (FFA) new options include garden-to-County families under the federal poverty rate, cafeteria type curricula that include greenhouseincluding 8.7% of the elderly and 20.7% of the and garden box growing, wildlife gardening,children. For more hunger and food statistics, cooking and nutrition education. This has begunplease see "ADDRESSING HUNGER in to influence school meal programs, withUmatilla County, 2009", page 43. innovative directors creating linkages between health, nutrition, and local food production.And while "imported" employers and financialresources are important, as are far-flung PUBLIC EDUCATION. OSU programs such ascustomers, a lively, parallel scale-appropriate Master Gardeners, 4-H, Master Food Preservers,local economy is encouraged. The goal is to give Small Farms, and Family Nutrition Educationindividuals and communities more choice and Programs are all resources to be requested of thecontrol over basic needs (like food), and their County and OSU. Funding for some of themquality of life and well-being. has been cut in the rural areas but at present several programs provide important andHEALTH trends show residents in this county accessible adult, family and child education. The "We should practice "economic gardening",getting fatter and more diabetic (from 2004- OSU Master Gardener program has experienced cultivating local businesses and agricultural2007), now topping the regional charts at 32.6% a marked increase in the number of gardens and jobs that contribute back to the community."obese, and 7.3% diabetic adults (National Center class participation across this county. New - Pilot Rock FEAST participant Page | 35From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • faculty and volunteers have also been trained in comprehensive "food center" providing athe Master Food Preservers curriculum as well, community gathering place of businessmaking it available on a limited basis for the development, education programs, meal-entire region. Blue Mountain Community preparation and partaking, supported by localCollege also serves food and farming growers, gardens, and farmers market.educational needs which could expand withdemand. "The ultimate goal is to become as self-CONNECTIONS. During the course of this sustaining as possible." Another significant social- Mayor of Pilot Rock development inassessment, community conversations and Umatilla County is the presence, albeit small, ofexploration led to a deeper regard for the a group called the Columbia Plateau Food Links.complexity of a food system and everyones role This group is a multi-disciplinary, multi-agencyin it. Together, people saw new opportunities, group that stands as the countys first "localcreated associations, developed relationships, foods" group, modeled after those seen inand optimize mutual circumstances; they dream western OR and elsewhere. (A Wheeler Countydreams, have vision and work to get things done. group has also converged to become that countys first local food steering committee).Critical to this asset-development process (more The Columbia Plateau Food Links groupsimply known as brainstorming and provides a venue for communication, planning,collaboration), several "FEASTS" (Food project development and celebration. As mightEducation Agriculture Solutions Together), be expected, social networking tools - a web sitecommunity food systems meetings were and FaceBook page - have also been developed.organized. Three were held in Umatilla County Such resources provide the beginnings of acommunities-Hermiston, Mission and Pilot network of education and outreach, of resourceRock. The Umatilla Indian Reservation held the sharing and relationship-building. This type ofcountys first FEAST, and began new social network mimics the local food system andconversations, relationships and activities that is one avenue for generating new social andlaunched local food organizing to expand financial capital.CTUIRs local food system services. Since then,individuals and groups in these communities County residents and decision-makers would dohave continued to meet and move toward a well to develop a stronger sense of countypositive vision of their local food system and cohesion from border-to-border, mending fencesfuture. We were not able to visit with or gain and building bridges between the three bigdirect information from Hispanic individuals or towns, and the many county-wide organizations,communities to better understand their needs or public and private institutions and individuals.opportunities, but recommend that this happens The above information paints a rough butin the future. discernible picture of economic and socialWith a growing understanding of the opportunity for Umatilla County. Peopleconnections between individual and community concerned and involved with the local farminghealth and well-being, the city of Pilot Rock is and food economy, and their health andorganizing many activities around local food and nutritional needs appear poised to take off in aagricultural opportunities. This community held food-positive direction with the appropriatetheir own FEAST workshop, building on the encouragement and inputs.community vision and plans which include a Page | 36From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • Agriculture farms which sold directly to the public.Umatilla has been called the "Central Valley ofOregon" for its agricultural wealth and diversity.An overview of the agricultural system of today(2007) shows this county ranked first in thestate in the production of grains, oilseed andlegumes (peas!); first in vegetables, and in fieldand grass seed crops. Bees, barley and pheasantsstand out as other significant crops. By mostaccounts Umatilla farms have the capacity to LOCAL MELONS AT LOCAL FARM STANDproduce enough of all the basic food needs foreveryone in the entire region (roughly 88,000) - These farms reported a 450% increase in theand many more. Going "by the numbers", its total value of their sales from 2002, up toclear that the County contains significant large- $3,592,000 (2007 US Agriculture Census).scale conventional agricultural production. It is They grow everything from grapes to grainsworth reiterating that the average expenses and (sometimes both), predominantly fresh producenet incomes achieved per acre - over $27,000 in crops, marketed through a variety of farm-directproduction expenses, with what appears to be meansjust $62 of net income earned after thethousands of dollars of collective inputs. ALTERNATIVE AG. It is the smaller-scale, farm-direct "agri-preneurial" segment of the agricultural world that our Community Food FARMS IN UMATILLA COUNTY Assessment concentrated on. These growers, processors and retailers are flexible and 1,658 farms on 1,447,321 acres. responsive to individual growers needs, and are Estimated value of land and building per BY THE NUMBERS significant and promising players for improving farm is approx. $1.0 million, or both community and regional food consumption, $1,157 per acre. and the redevelopment of the local food system. Total production expenses in the county are $270 million; average "I switched to organic as both a personal production expenses per farm is food and farming choice, because of my $162,674 or $27,186 per acre. values and beliefs. I earn more on my Total net cash income in the county is smallish plot without having to get more $90 million; averaging $54,477 per land, since organics fetch twice the price, and the inputs dont cost so much." farm or $62 per acre. - Umatilla wheat farmer And with expanding demand the possibilities forThe U.S. Agriculture Census data (2007) also small production, micro-processing, distributionshowed that in Umatilla County, 525 farms grow and sales are re-germinating.fruits, vegetables and nuts on 41,211 acres. Andis this food locally available? Yes! Unlike othercounties of our study there are growing numbersof healthy, large and small farms which sold Page | 37From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • To compare and contrast our early days ...A look at the sidebar opposite, an historic UMATILLA COUNTY, 1910summary of the local food and farming systemfrom the Oregon Bureau of Labor, shows that Food & Farming Industries100 years ago food was local, and most towns Athena - 2 harness shops, 4 groceries, 1had farms and facilities to accomplish the bakery, 4 blacksmiths, 1 flour and 2 feedbusiness of feeding the community. Mid mills, and 2 warehouses.twentieth-century maps (1950s) show continuedfood system expansion with six poultry Echo - creamery, grocery store, grist mill, a wool scouring plant, 2 alfalfa mealprocessing facilities, canneries, meat packing mills, a chop mill, 7 warehouses.houses and other enterprises being developed inUmatilla County. Freewater - shipped 39,000 crates of strawberries, dewberries and cherries,Today, there are only a handful of supporting thirty carloads of pears, 50 of peaches,food facilities, from 1-2 fresh-pack frozen foods 100 of prunes and 200 carloads offacilities, a large flour mill, and a flour apples.processing and manufacturing company, a fewsmall to mid-sized local meat processors, and Hermiston - principal agricultureseveral small custom slaughter companies. Of industries were dairying and horticulture; food and farm industries included 2these privately held meat packing and general merchandise stores, 3 groceries,processing facilities, none supports the local 2 restaurants, 2 meat markets, 1food system as a whole. blacksmith shop, and 3 confectionery stores. Pendleton - principal industries were diversified farming, horticulture, and stock-raising, with 2 flouring mills, a woolen mill, ice and cold storage plant, 2 cigar factories, a brewery, 2 creameries, 10 grocery stores, 2 candy stores, a bakery, 3 farming implement stores, 3 chop mills, and a meat packing plant. According to the field inspector of the MAKING CIDER NEAR STANFIELD day, "throughout the County there are good openings for investment in moreAll of the Umatilla growers (36) who responded creameries, canneries, paper mill,to our surveys are aware of the economic packing plant, processing plant, soapopportunities in more direct-marketing and factory and a tannery."value-added activities: most of them sell ineither the local and/or regional markets, using allmanner of production (conventional, organic, Oregon Bureau of Labor Biennialtransition, free range, grass-fed, sustainable...). Report, 1911Of the three-quarters of growers responding toour surveys, half farm on less than 40 acres andthe other half on over 1000 acres; the remaining Page | 38From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • one-quarter of them farm acreages between 41 obtaining local food production to be explored,acres and 1000. Two-thirds of all the developed and grown.responding farmers plan to increase both acreageand diversity of crops, with 1/3 planning to stayat the same level. This is good news, especiallyin combination with the fact that no oneproposes to sell their farm.There are a number of producer-recognizedconstraints, including the cost of labor, lack ofconsumer awareness and education about theavailability, value and cost of producing localfood (labor, time, lack of processing anddistribution facilities), and challenges in beingones own "broker" establishing contracts andcommunications with retail/institutional buyers.Food and farm industry supports such asgreenhouses, warehouses, distribution andprocessing choices would add to theproductivity, viability, value and availability of MIXED BLESSINGS -WHEAT, WINE, WATER & WINDlocal food production. Other access-related local food and farm policyPOLICY and PLANNING. There is other issues came to light in our investigation:research examining the possibilities - a recent purported denial of farm stand permits if sellingOSU study corroborates the fact that smalls anothers produce on personal property withinfarms (between 10 and 40 acres) can be highly the Exclusive Farm Unit (EFU); "urbanproductive and economically viable in this livestock" (poultry, waterfowl or rabbit keeping)region. (Sorte, et al, 2009). Umatilla County being illegal within rural residential areas; lackresidents are exploring options to reduce of acceptance for community and school gardensallowable farm size from 80 acres (established in "green space" designations; fruit tree industrythrough Oregon land use planning in 1993) to protections that could negatively impact10, 20, and 40-acre parcels. This would make backyard fruit tree owners; and of course,access to land easier for more beginning and competition for water rights betweendisadvantaged farmers, and though not without municipalities and agricultural operations.its challenges, this team feels such changescould provide new important agricultural optionsfor the sons and daughters of our country, andthe eating public. With the continued growth in diverseagriculture practices in this county comes theneed for planning that expands the availability offood resources, allowing infrastructure,entrepreneurial advancement and venues for FARM STAND IN MILTON-FREEWATER Page | 39From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • These are complicated issues and opportunities of buying from regionally-based businesses, ofin our region that may affect the availability, eating locally-produced healthy foods.access and affordability of fresh food in areaswith food needs and food assets. Happily, some these very things are beginning to happen in Umatilla County.These examples also point to a need forconcerted food policy development, perhaps a Foodfood policy council, in the County. Neither This section deals with Umatilla countys accessurban or community development plans, to local food - where people get it and how.economic development plans, nor emergencymanagement plans have included sustainable Of the four counties studied, this is the onlyaccess to fresh healthy local food as a part of county that is not classified as a "food desert"their work. With only three days of food (where residents must drive more than 10 milessupply in any grocery store, this basic need and to a grocery store; Rural Sociological Society,right is just as important to plan for as water, 2007). And yet, hunger was identified as aenergy, employment and housing. somewhat serious (55.9%) or extremely serious (15.7%) problem in Umatilla communities. And,Assuming the opportunities outweigh the risks a majority (90%) of those surveyed think poorand constraints, farm-direct food production quality diets is a "somewhat" or "extremely"may be driven by increasing consumer demand. serious issue here. Why is that so? MostOur surveys (in this and all three other counties) resident here are quite fortunate in their foodshow a strong tendency to care about and buy choices. This is a generalized situation,local foods where available. Now boasting four however, for several small outlying communitiesfarmers markets of varying sizes and shapes, have no healthy retail food options, and live inUmatilla Co. consumers (25%) say more are very localized food deserts, depending onneeded. However, of even greater interest or convenience store and gas station food, and/ordemand are local foods in restaurants (55%), in transportation to stores elsewhere.consumer cooperatives and/or independentgrocery stores (40%), and with farm-to-school GROCERY STORES. One long-time residentprograms (41%). of Pendleton stated that through the late 1970s, there were roughly seventeen small full-serviceBUY LOCAL, the motto of a national marketing neighborhood grocery stores in this town sellingis a trend that might be well-delivered and many local products. This town now hostsreceived here, especially if county-wide. With three major regional or national grocery chains,the expanding line of local products and venues plus a number of independent grocery retailers,for market/purchase, whats needed, according to with Hermiston and Milton-Freewater closeproducers surveyed, is to expand consumer behind, numbers-wise. Gone however, are thedemand for and education about local healthy neighborhood corner stores, and mostagricultural products. County decision-makers, residents must get in their cars to drive to thelocal organizations, Chambers, businesses and stores serving food that also travelled greatassociations have a potentially rewarding, self- distances.serving opportunity to create a public education,"buy local" promotion and marketing campaign Pilot Rock and Umatilla, two sizable towns,teaching residents the value of shopping locally, have adequate grocery stores that struggle to maintain their customer base and fair prices. Page | 40From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • Residents of Adams, Athena, Dale, Echo, pesticide free/safe food, in that order. BothStanfield, Ukiah and Weston have no access to Hermiston and Pendleton have fledgling healthgood grocery food at any price. food stores that now purchase directly from the farm. Hopefully, those stores and will prosperThe presence of corporate mega-store Wal-Mart and market themselves to the 45% of consumershas created serious competition with other who say want more local independent and/orgrocery chains and independents, and draws cooperative stores in the region.customers from great distances. Evencommunities outside Umatilla County are Our research and that of the Oregon Downtownimpacted by the presence of Wal-Mart in Development Association (ODDA) shows thatHermiston, Pendleton, Walla Walla and the Tri- even with these new and existing grocery stores,Cities. the largest identified retail food gap/economic "I feel sad when people tell me they only opportunity in the county continues to be local, come to shop because they forgot an onion "natural", or health food availability. In their assessment of economic opportunities, ODDA and happened to be in town - my store is identified an annual "leakage" (dollars moving used as a convenience store, people do most out of the target market area) of over $47 million of their shopping where they work." for purchases of local, natural foods and/or - Pilot Rock Grocer specialty food products (ODDA, 2007). This equates to potential profit for enterprising localThe unfortunate reality is that people often food retailers.believe that chains and larger food stores are lessexpensive, which isnt necessarily so, especially FARM-DIRECT. Farm stands are traditionalif we consider the valuable time and energy sources of farm-direct, safe and affordable localspent driving long distances adding to the costs food. Though their numbers are dwindling, overand hurting the own local economy. As one a dozen farmers/ farm stands carrying locallocal grocer reported (and weve seen fruits and veggies, and several u-pick optionselsewhere), " market basket pricing at my store provide Umatilla consumers a broad array ofshow my prices are actually slightly lower than affordable local produce, and alternativeSafeway, and just slightly higher than Wal-Mart purchasing options with WIC and FDNP.for similar products." Farmers markets are becoming another sourceThe paradox is that while big-box stores often of similar foods. Hermiston, Pendleton and Pilotprovide residents from near and far with so- Rock Farmers Markets offer fresh producedcalled affordable (if not the most local or with local farmers, students and backyardnutritious) foods, they also threaten local food gardeners selling directly to their customers. Thesupplies over the longer-term if local latest market in Umatilla provides new farm-competitors are driven out of business. Loss of direct options for the north-end consumers andsupport for rural grocery stores is an growers. Of these four markets, only Pendletonincreasingly serious problem here and around is approved for SNAP, WIC and the farm-Directthe nation. Nutrition Program coupons (FDNP).To close the discussion of retail grocers on a Market shoppers surveyed in Pendleton are nowpositive note, consumers survey respondents in requesting more diversity - grains, legumes,this county state their greatest concerns aboutthe food they eat are price, locally grown, and Page | 41From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • poultry and cheese. Even with its relatively least, of course, this county has a number ofvisible presence, according to our survey, nearly restaurants featuring local farm products. All of23% of potential customers didnt know where these local purchasers note that they would likeor when to find local produce. much more locally-grown food and have had difficulty finding and contracting farmers who can meet their needs. GROW YOUR OWN. Residents here are no strangers to growing their own groceries - our consumer questionnaire showed that more than 60% of the 100-plus respondents raise some of their own food in a home garden or get it from a community garden. Home and community gardens are present in many forms and fashions - ranging from the educational gardens of OSU PENDLETON FARMERS’ MARKET VENDOR Master Gardens in Pendleton and Hermiston, to church, school and community/market gardensAnother obvious obstacle to purchasing local in nearly every town on the map.food in Umatilla County is not availability, butthe cost - and/or the perception of cost One example, the Pilot Rock Communityassociated with local foods. Just as we believe Gardens, are part and parcel of enhancing foodlarger chain stores offer the best deals, so do security, but the bigger mission reaches farresidents believe that local food is more beyond into community, youth and localexpensive. Again this is a relative figure, with economic development. Organizers workedmany factors to weigh beyond, but including, closely with the school, the farmers market andones pocketbook. And this is where more new food pantry to teach, grow, share and sellconversation, exploration and education are the produce. In the process theyre growingnecessary. much more than food.There are other farm-direct options for getting "The vision is for full-circle gardening - fromyour chops around local product - restaurants, kitchen to compost to garden and roundschools and...hospitals! Thats right, farm-to- again; from scraps to soil to soup." ~institution purchasing means that even hospital Pilot Rock local foods organizerfood has taken a turn for the better. HermistonsGood Shepherd is home to a nationally Over the past several years the Umatilla Indianrecognized hospital food program providing Reservation garden (the Garden of Eatin) hasboth patient and in-house café customers with seen increased use and acceptance of theirhealthy, cost-effective, local made-to-order community garden, which serves mainlymeals. Several independent schools have long children. They now have plans for gardens inpurchased from local growers. Umatilla School each community, and have instituted a new 4-HDistrict has recently joined hands with local program to grow a new generation of childrenorganizers to expand their school garden and with connections to the land.begin a formal farm-to-school purchasingprogram. Farmers and customers alike are Several additional gardens around the region arebenefitting from these nascent efforts. And not in early growth stages, supported in part by a Page | 42From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • 2010 CAPECO grant funding for who were eligible enrolled, the county wouldinfrastructural developments. We found that have received over five million more dollars thatmost of the community gardens donate a portion year, much of which would have providedof their harvest to a local food pantry, needy additional food as well as leveraging cash flowfamilies, or other community food or meal to the local economy.programs (senior centers, summer meals, churchsoup kitchens). It appears that gardens are "I know this sounds strange coming fromimportant food sources and will continue to someone who is disabled, but sometimesgrow and thrive with more exposure, resources, the working class resentment seems soand possibly formal organization. great that I think it would be better for the sick among us to be left to die. But since theEMERGENCY FOOD. In addition to stores and economy has slumped, even working peoplefarmers markets, hunting, gathering and growing need help” Pantry intervieweefood, the county contains ten emergency foodpantries and congregate meal sites, as well as FOOD SOVEREIGNTY. Beyond food securitysenior emergency boxes and the Tribal and hunger, there is another growing foodCommodities program, all supported by the movement here and around the nation and globeregional food bank network and generous is known as "food sovereignty". It is associatedcommunity members. CAPECO delivers nearly with protecting and maintaining access toa million pounds of food to these County entities traditional and indigenous food sources,annually who, in turn, serve hundreds of protecting "heritage", heirloom, and otherindividuals and families over 18,000 food boxes culturally important foods, wild-harvested,(2009)..."because no one should be hungry". It hand-crafted, or genetically unadulterated.appears many still are. Perhaps aligning with this is the fact that "Six months ago I thought Pilot Rock didnt approximately 44% of the consumers surveyed have that huge a need - now we know there in this county are "somewhat" or "very" are a lot of families just eking by" dependent on hunting, fishing and wild- Pantry volunteer harvesting. Sixty-percent stated various ways that would facilitate them eating more wild foods, including education, identification,Many Umatilla people currently living in cooking and policy changes. And what do theypoverty (17% kids, 8.7% seniors) could be do with local fresh foods? More than 70% ofensured additional hunger and nutrition support respondents preserve, dry, can or freeze food,through federal feeding programs. As seen in the and approximately 45% want more education onOregon Hunger Relief Task Force fact sheet (p. how to do those things.43), sixty percent of the countys children are On the Umatilla Indian Reservation foodeligible for free and reduced price lunches; if all sovereignty is part of a First Foods movement.participated, nearly 3,000 more children would Promoting a comprehensive system ofeat better and save family money, and bring an education, land use planning and culturaladditional $1.3 million to school district meal enhancement by protecting (and eating)programs. The same can be said for SNAP (food indigenous roots, shoots and berries, deer, elkstamp) usage - in 2008 nearly 12,000 Umatilla and salmon, they also guard treaty rights, theirCounty people received this assistance. If all culture, native species and the Earth. Page | 43From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • ADDRESSING HUNGER in Umatilla County, 2009UMATILLA COUNTY Oregon * WIC data for Umatilla County cannot be extracted from Umatilla – Morrow Head Start data  InADDRESSING HUNGERtimes, many more 2009, fact sheet these hard economic in Umatilla County, people are hungry, especially children and seniors.  Federal food programs can help feed people and provide economic stimulus for local economies.  Umatilla County could bring in millions more federal dollars by reaching more eligible people. School Lunches, Breakfast, & SNAP/ Food Stamps Summer Meals In 2008 ~  11,958 people received SNAP/food stamps per month in Umatilla County.  $12.9 million federal dollars were brought into the local economy. If all eligible people were enrolled in SNAP, Umatilla County would have received an additional $419,390 dollars each month in federal money and 537 additional people would have received help putting food on the table. HOW YOU CAN HELP In 2008 ~59% of all students were eligible for free and reduced price meals in Umatilla County. Of those who  Support public policies that help low-income people meet their basic needs. ate lunch:  Support efforts to reach more people through  58% of them received breakfast. federal food assistance programs.  Refer to the Act to End Hunger for more ideas  23% ate meals through the Summer Food Program. to address hunger in your county. If all who were eligible for free or reduced price lunch For specific information visit were served, Umatilla County would have received an www.oregonhunger.org additional $1.3 million in federal dollars a year and fed an additional 2,978 eligible low-income children. Women, Infants & Afterschool Emergency Food Farm Direct Children Program (WIC) Assistance Meals & Snacks Nutrition ProgramIn 2008, WIC served 6,836 In 2008, 17,714 food During the 2007/08 school Seniors and WIC families year, 30,311 suppers werepregnant or breast- boxes and 2 congregate redeemed $75,518 in served in high need areasfeeding women, infants meal sites provided coupons to buy fresh that brought $79,320and children * under five, produce in 2008, which federal dollars into countyrepresenting 45% of all emergency food to help supported local farmers. school districts.pregnant women (compared families make ends meet.to 40% statewide average). * WIC data for Umatilla County cannot be extracted from Umatilla – Morrow Head Start data Umatilla County Demographic Information Total Population: 72,380 Children 0-18 years: 18,673  People in Poverty: 10,785 (14.9%)  Children in Poverty: 3,193 (17.1%)  People living at or below 185% of Poverty: 26,491 (36.6%) Page | 44 From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • awareness of the value of choosing this type ofCONCLUSION food.To its great fortune, Umatilla County is rich inmany, many ways. Community food security, Increased availability, accessibility andself-sufficiency even, is well within reach with affordability is also occurring with home, schoolcontinued, prioritized work on the local food and community gardens. These gardens providesystem. egalitarian access to education, food, camaraderie, beauty, practical farming skills andGenerally, production agriculture is alive and a sense of community. Resources for supportingwell but is not designed to reverse the exported and expanding these efforts are available fromflow of goods to meet local or regional demand. many sources, and with continued networkingNor are we suggesting it should. That said, may be put to work. Composting of food andagricultural opportunities here are varied and agricultural wastes would help close the loopdiversifying, and the capacity for all-scales of and create a more sustainable food system.growth is large. Local growers face challengesof labor and input costs, water, climate and With every advancement in local food, thosecustomer demand. But the small-and-growing most in need and least able to access it must becadre of farm-direct and alternative producers is considered. Emergency food provision isfilling a local demand, creating a new niche and optimally expanded and connected to local foodtaking charge of their profit margins by resources through appropriate gleaning,marketing, pricing and selling according to their processing, improved distribution, and foodcosts, straight to their customers. Essential to reclamation.this is a parallel growth in food/farm system Which brings us to a final point regardingsupports such as season-extending technologies, connectivity, networking and collaboration. Thewarehousing, distribution, and processing towns of Hermiston, Pendleton and Milton-facilities for small-scale producers. With Freewater are unique in character and haveappropriate-scale infrastructure they could much to offer the county as a whole, in terms ofalmost certainly meet demand in the 4-county growth in population, food consumption andservice-area, and potentially, a broader regional production, agricultural infrastructure anddemand. Additional institutional sales could spur development. Development opportunities maya year-round supply of fruits and vegetables, and depend on deeper sharing of information,greater affordability and stability in markets and wealth, ideas and resources: county-levelprices. measures could be taken to strengthenUmatilla consumers are also more aware and in relationships and project development amongpursuit of local food choices than in other various entities. Groups like the Columbiacounties. Socio-economic factors that influence Plateau Food Links provide "non-sectarian"buying habits, such as wages and education, local foods network and open forums for peoplecould be further improved through local efforts of differing backgrounds and agendas to comeover time. Opportunities for making local foods together to learn, share and grow new ideas.more accessible and affordable include more The following Opportunities, derived frompurchasing options (new locations, alternative direct input, anecdote and analysis, are just thepurchasing "currency" e.g. SNAP, FDNP and spring-board for future action plans built byWIC Veggie Vouchers), more knowledge about informed residents, advocates and stakeholders.what to do with fresh whole foods, and increased Page | 45From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • OPPORTUNITIES IN UMATILLA COUNTYRecommendation 1: Recognize the community and economic value of a diversified local foodsystem as a legitimate county-wide development strategy.1. Explore and encourage scale-appropriate funding, resource development, and policy and zoning mechanisms for expanding and locating local food production, facilities, and marketing and purchasing options.2. Ensure that a safe, adequate, sustainable and nutritional food supply is considered in community development and emergency management plans.Recommendation 2: Increase production and availability of local or regionally produced food.1. Explore funding, training and technical supports for season-extending technologies and year-round produce growing and marketing.2. Increase local food system infrastructure including produce and grain storage and processing; meat slaughter and processing units, including poultry, local distribution options.3. Identify and encourage more farm-direct growers of diverse and alternative crops, especially chicken, grains, legumes and other differentiated food crops.Recommendation 3: Expand farm-direct marketing opportunities.1. Increase farm-direct purchasing and marketing venues and contracts in a) retail grocery stores, b) restaurants, c) local institutions; d) CSAs, e) U-pick and f) value-added enterprises. 2. Identify large purchasers of food and engage them in local or regional food purchasing dialogue. 3. Develop and conduct producer-purchaser work groups and workshops. 4. Explore and develop producer cooperatives (delivery, purchasing, marketing) where feasible. 5. Sustain and expand farm-direct marketing venues such as farmers markets, farm stands.Recommendation 4: Expand education opportunities around local food and farming.1. Increase both school-based and community-based education and awareness programs that emphasize the interconnected nature of individual, community, economic and natural resource health.2. Identify and coordinate with existing nutrition educators and experts to increase understanding and the practice of healthy eating habits.3. Explore certification, education and internship opportunities for local farm-direct producers. Page | 46From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • 4. Identify existing, or develop new educational resources to build knowledge about hunting, fishing and harvesting wild foods; specific areas might include identification, cooking, preservation, rights and responsibilities.5. Identify current and new gardening and agricultural education resources for youth and home gardeners, and increase use of those resources.6. Identify, distribute and/or implement cooking and meal planning materials and curricula at food pantries, farmers markets and other public venuesRecommendation 5: Increase outreach and networking about the benefits and value of a stronglocal food system.1. Develop and implement public education campaigns, workshops and conferences on the benefits of healthy eating habits, local purchasing ("buy local"), and local food systems.2. Establish, or strengthen existing county-wide development strategies and communications between public and private organizations that are involved in food system activities.3. Support expansion and viability of the local foods network, the Columbia Plateau Food Links to facilitate sharing of local food and farming ideas and resources.4. Connect with other regional and state networks to further community food and farm efforts.Recommendation 6: Ensure regular access to a stable fresh food supply for low-income citizensyear-round.1. Increase understanding and use of nutrition access programs including SNAP, WIC and FDNP.2. Establish programs that feed children including summer lunch, fresh snacks, breakfast, dinner and weekend meals where feasible.3. Increase the amount of fresh food available at food pantries.4. Establish WIC Fruit and Veggie Voucher retailers in every community.5. Explore "Healthy Corner Stores" or equivalent program to support underserved neighborhoods and communities.6. Implement farm-to-school programs where feasible.7. Establish appropriate gleaning options at all levels of the food system, when and wherever possible. Page | 47From Our Roots: The People Agriculture & Food of Umatilla County, OR
  • CHAPTER 5—WHEELER COUNTY CATTLE, HORSES AND SHEEP GRAZING A HILLSIDE IN WHEELER COUNTYIntroduction Like most of Oregon east of the Cascades, Wheeler County is arid. In the southern end ofThe Northern Paiute and Warm Springs tribes the County, Mitchell averages 11 inches oforiginally inhabited the rugged country that now precipitation a year and Fossil gets a little overincludes Wheeler County. It is an ever changing 15 inches. The temperature range has highlandscape, ranging from high elevation juniper, fluctuations, both seasonally and daily. It issagebrush and pine plateaus down to the lush characterized by hot summers and cold winters,river and creek bottoms. This diversity of natural yet because of its high elevation much of theresources is what brought the first white settlers County cools down on summer nights (Taylor,to the region in the mid 19th century. 2000).Wheeler County is perhaps most well known for Wheeler County is the least populous county inthe extraordinary deposits of prehistoric fossils the state of Oregon with only 1,363 peoplecontained within its borders. It is home to the (Indicators Northwest, 2008). There are fewerJohn Day Fossil Beds National Monument and people living within its borders now than therethe Painted Hills, a strikingly beautiful were in the early and mid 20th century. Isolationlandscape. The Blue Mountains encompass the is a way of life for many here. Only 49% ofnortheast corner of the county and the Ochoco residents live Fossil, Mitchell and Spray, theMountains rise up along the southern flank. The three incorporated towns. The other half areJohn Day River makes several large loops scattered throughout the County, oftentimes farthrough the middle of the County, and also from community services.makes up part of the eastern and western border.To the north is Gilliam County and the southern Many of the industries that brought people to thereach of Columbia Plateau wheat country. region are now gone or have been reduced in Page | 48From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • importance, resulting in out migration and a In June 2010 Wheeler County had andepopulation of the county. Ranching, mining, unemployment rate of 10.8%, slightly highertimber and stage roads were all reasons people than the state average (Worksource Oregon,came, stayed and permanently settled this 2010). What was heard repeated again and againregion. Agriculture was, and still is, the primary was, “there’s not any work.” In Spray, oneeconomic driver in Wheeler County. Today over interviewee was able to quickly recount everya third of the workforce is employed in farming, job in town, and whether they are year-round orprimarily cattle ranching (Indicators Northwest, seasonal. The year-round jobs were counted on2007). two hands.It is not only the terrain that is rugged; the Admittedly, this is a complex issue, but thepeople that call Wheeler County home are a historical reliance on resource extraction plays atough, proud and independent lot. It is a unique role, just as it does throughout much of theplace both within the state and the region. Hard region. The economy is not well diversified,times have been the norm for years, but Wheeler with some sectors not having a role at all.County appears to be better positioned to take Wheeler County has the highest percentage ofcontrol of its destiny than any of the other the workforce self-employed (54.8%) andcounties in the region. employed in farming (26.8%) in the state. Government and other services round out thePeople major employment sectors in the CountySocioeconomic indicators show Wheeler County (Indicators Northwest, 2008).as one of the most struggling counties in Many of those interviewed see tourism as anOregon. However, being on the ground and important growth sector. Wheeler Countytalking to the people that choose to make it their recently worked with Gilliam and Shermanhome uncovered a story than is much more Counties to launch the “John Day Rivernuanced than what the numbers tell us. Territory” to reinvent the region’s tourismWEALTH. The numbers reveal that Wheeler presence. Tourism already plays an important role and brings a lot of money in and employsCounty has an overall poverty rate of 16.8% andchildhood poverty rate of 31.7%, very high many people. A restaurant owner shared that thepercentages and in the case of childhood “trickle down is huge.” Many businesses see apoverty, the highest in the state. Median big income increase in the summer, but in thehousehold income is $32,231, the lowest in winter times are hard.Oregon (Indicators Northwest, 2009). Common While unemployment is a critical issue inthemes that arose were the lack of jobs, an aging Wheeler County, underemployment was alsopopulation, concern for individuals and families identified as an issue. Many people workscattered throughout the county stuggling to temporary or part time service industry jobs,make ends meet and the need to network and many of which are tied to tourism and onlyeducate themselves so they can to move towards seasonal. These are the jobs that rarely comebeing more self-sufficient and food secure. with benefits such as health insurance and retirement, assuring the issues will only get “There’s no money here. This is where you more difficult over time. come to retire.” Rural resident Page | 49From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • “The majority of the people in Spray are each month. Senior citizens, in particular, were about 60 years old. We are now seeing identified as a vulnerable group. And while several people interviewed were adamant about younger couples with children, but our children being well cared for and well fed, not school is only 49 kids. That pretty well tells everyone agrees with that asertation. One the story.” Spray resident resident in Spray shared “our children are not hurting here. They’re not going hungry.The lack of jobs is one of the factors Everybody looks out for everybody else,contributing to the aging population. There are especially the children.” Yet anecdotal evidence,more people over the age of 65 living in high childhood poverty rates and poor access toWheeler County than there are children under fresh healthy food leads us to believe thatthe age of 18. While many of these seniors are children are a vulnerable group as well.well taken care of, there were stories of shut-ins,widows and people living fixed incomes. One CAPACITY. Our first stakeholder meeting incouple shared, “we only have our retirement; Wheeler County was in January and over 15social security really isn’t enough.” people showed up. It was interesting to learn that some of the people sitting around the tableThere were many stories of kids leaving right didn’t know there was a community garden atafter high school and never looking back. “Kids the high school and others weren’t aware thatcan’t wait to get out of here. My husband was there is a food pantry in town. The groupraised here and he couldn’t wait to get out of concluded that there is a great need tohere. But when we retired we came back. He communication and network better.didn’t really want to come back, but now thatwe’re here we like it.” “In small towns there are always people to help. You may not like them, but you stillYet a few have bucked that trend. We did talk help.” Fossil Food Pantry volunteerwith several young parents and they shared thatto make it work they are piecing together severalpart time jobs, and in the case of one young In February over 35 people came together infamily near Spray, attempting to make a small Fossil for a FEAST workshop. This was a largediversified farm work. Wheeler County is a turnout in Wheeler County. As we were told byplace where what may seem like a small success a Spray resident, “a successful communityin a more populated area is a large success. A meeting would have 20 people in attendance.”resident in Spray was thrilled about the return of The theme of better communication andseveral young families; “we are getting younger networking was again repeated, as was thepeople. We just had two families move in, so critical need to educate everyone who lives inthat’s positive. We have four pregnant women Wheeler County.right now. That’s pretty remarkable, because HEALTH. Wheeler County residents identifiedyou have to go to Bend to see the doctor.” the need for education in many areas includingTraveling and talking with residents with people cooking, gardening, meal preparation, nutritionthroughout the County uncovered stories of and agricultural training to increase productionpeople struggling to make ends meet, and and for youth. Some of these efforts are alreadyoftentimes going without meals or other underway including 4-H, FFA, the naturalforegoing medical care just to make end meet resource curriculum in Fossil and education for Page | 50From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • food pantry clients. In addition, the town of terrain and quality of soil are also pose barriers.Fossil entered and won a national "Biggest There is very little low elevation flat landLoser" contest by eating and exercising together. suitable for cultivation and the soil is very rockyIt brought the town together around the issues, throughout much of the County. Thus, it is notwhile creating comradely and a can-do attitude. surprising that ranching emerged to be theMuch more, however, can and should be done to primary agricultural activity.make sure the entire County is served throughincreased educational opportunities. There are over 757,000 acres of farm land in Wheeler County, of which 93% is rangeland. “We’re going to come back to where we Cattle and calf operations are the most valuable have to garden.” Mitchell resident agricultural sector in Wheeler County; worth $8.9 million a year. A far second in value is grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas, worthOur study gathered minimal health data, $244,000 a year. There are only 56,261 acres ofprimarily from the U.S. Center for Disease cropland, of which only 25% is irrigatedControl (CDC) ; this information combined with (Census of Agriculture, 2007).anecdotal evidence, provides an improvingpicture in Wheeler County. The CDC diabetes FARMS IN WHEELER COUNTYand obesity trends (2004-2007) show Wheeleralone of our 4 counties, improving their 164 farms on 757,780 acres .nutritional-health. And while nutrition was not Estimated value of land and building per BY THE NUMBERSidentified as an educational need, 86.9% of farm is $2.1 million and $464 perrespondents believe that poor quality diets are a acre.somewhat or extremely serious issue. This Total production expenses in thenumber is much larger than the percentage of county are $8.9 million; averagerespondents that believe hunger is a somewhat production expenses per farm isor extremely serious issue (43.4%). This great $54,049 and $12 per acre.difference leads us to believe that nutrition Total net cash income in the county iseducation is important, and perhaps due to the $2.3 million; average of $13,754recent success of the Greatest Loser contest in per farm and $3 per acre.Fossil, an achievable and potential high-impactopportunity that people in Wheeler are aware of Wheeler County has 164 farms at an averageand feel empowered to address. size of just over 4,600 acres; the largest averageFor more information on food and hunger in the state (USDA Agriculture Census, 2007).statistics please see "ADDRESSING HUNGER Interviews with residents and ranchers revealedin Wheler County, 200", page p.56. that most of these ranches are family owned and managed. A number worth noting is thatAgriculture Wheeler County farmers, at an average age of 61.9 years, are older than any other in the state.There are numerous environmental factors that The average estimated value of the land andmake crop production difficult in Wheeler buildings is $2.1 million per farm. While theCounty. It is an arid region, and the scarcity of value of farms in Wheeler County is the highestwater is the greatest limiting factor. Water for in the state, the average net cash income is onlyirrigation is more available along the John Day $13,754 per farm. As farmers age, theseRiver and creeks throughout the County, but Page | 51From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • numbers raise questions about succession and connecting growers with potential institutionalthe ability of subsequent generations to stay or buyers, the issue of distribution was raised byreturn to the farm. In the past, it is much more both sellers and buyers. Within the County therelikely that farms supported multiple generations is no distribution network to move produce fromthan they do today. Inheriting the farm or local farms to buyers or communities. The lackstarting out as a new farmer is fraught with of cold storage facilities was also discussed.financial barriers and complexities. OMSI’s Hancock Field Station in Clarno hopes to source as much food locally as possible, yetAccess to meat slaughter and processing they can’t go to the farmers and farmers can’tfacilities is important in a ranching community, easily or efficiently move produce to them.yet Wheeler County does not have one custom- Developing a cold storage facility somewhereexempt or USDA-inspected facility within its central was suggested to ease the distributionborders. There is a custom-exempt mobile and lessen the possibility of spoilage. While theslaughter out of Redmond that makes trips to market for locally produced food continues toranches in the County. While it is more fortunate grow, solutions to these issues will only becomethan most of central and eastern Oregon because more important. A grower in nearby Grantof its proximity to a USDA-inspected facility in County recently bought a 20’ refrigerated truck,Prineville, it is still a serious issue frequently but it is too early to tell what role this will playraised by many people throughout the region. in alleviating distribution issues in the region. ALTERNATIVE AG. There are several ranches that have expanded operations, employing value added strategies to increase the viability of their farm. One local success story is Painted Hills Natural Beef. In the mid-90s, seven Wheeler County ranching families came together to discuss issues within the beef industry and how they might add more value to their beef. They formed a successful corporation and their products can be found all over the Northwest. WHEELER COUNTY RANGELAND Another success is Wilson Ranches; theyCost of feed for animals was raised as an issue diversified their operation with a foray intoas well. The Hands run a small diversified farm agritourism ten years ago, by opening up theirnear Spray. They grow a variety of produce, home and ranch to visitors. The Wilson Ranchkeep a milk cow and raise chickens, goats and Retreat Bed & Breakfast is now an importantpigs. “Cost of pig feed was high and it almost component of their operation, and a big Countyput us out of business.” They were able to find asset. They (as well as another local B&B) buycheap feed, but now make monthly trips to vegetables, meat and personal care products forArlington, 190 miles round trip. While this may their guest house from small-scale growers andbe an issue unique to the Hands, it leads to artisans in the County.another larger issue in Wheeler County—distribution. “You have to be able to adapt; take what you’ve got and use it!” Sally PotterThe movement of goods in to, out of and withinWheeler County is inefficient. At a meeting Page | 52From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • There are two small farms that are seeing Along the John Day irrigation is possible and thesuccess as well. Potter’s Starts & Nursery in growing season is extended; it can be anywhereFossil and Davis Farms in Service Creek sell between 2-4 months longer than most othermost of their produce within Wheeler County. places in the county. The Clarno Valley, SpraySally Potter grows flower and vegetables starts and Twickenham, all on the river, wereand a myriad of vegetables in her wood-heated repeatedly mentioned as playing important roles,greenhouses. She is in the second season of both historically and currently, in croprunning a small Community Supported production. Much of the grains grown in theAgriculture (CSA) operation and is one of the county are grown along the river, and the Clarnofounders of the new Farmers’ Market in Fossil. Valley grows renowned vegetables. In ClarnoSheldon Davis grows a variety of produce on a “peaches have grown 9 out of 10 years, apricotsbench above the John Day River. He has a farm and apples grow well also.” These assets arestand and is also one of the founders of the important considerations as the demand forFarmers’ Market. These farmers are currently locally produced food increases.the foundation of the nascent local foodmovement in Wheeler County and have taken on Foodroles beyond growing food to assure the successof the movement. On July 14th the first market The Sysco truck was making deliveries intook place with five vendors selling to over 60 Fossil during our first trip to Wheeler Countyshoppers, quite a feat in a town of just over 400 last fall. As we made our way through town,people. so did the Sysco truck driver. In the short time we were there the truck made stops atDavis and Potter, and the many backyard the school, a retirement center, thegrowers throughout the County are evidence that Mercantile and a restaurant. These stopsthe potential to grow food for local consumption accounted for nearly every retail market inis possible. When asked what the greatest asset town.of Wheeler County is, nearly every answer waseither the people or the John Day River. Thesesmall growers are evidence that tenacity andingenuity will produce food. Fossil has a 90-day This story is shared here not as a judgment, butgrowing season, water is scarce and expensive to illustrate that Wheeler County, like manyand the town struggles with a feral deer other small rural counties, is heavily reliant onpopulation that decimates gardens, yet Potter food that comes from far away sources.successful grows enough vegetables to supply With nearly half of Wheeler County residentsfarmers’ markets, CSA customers and living outside the towns of Fossil, Spray andoccasionally the Fossil Mercantile. Davis is also Mitchell in remote rural areas, access to food isan example of the other asset, the river. His a serious issue. Yet it is not just rural residentsseason is longer than many other parts of the that face food access issues, even those living incounty because of the affect of the river. town do not have regular access to high-quality, fresh and/or affordable food. Many people grow “That is our greatest asset, the river.” their own food, but not without difficulty in this Carolyn Adams, Spray resident tough environment. Page | 53From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • GROCERY STORES. Viability and “People are not concerned about losing thesustainability of the rural grocery stores is a big store, they’re so used to driving away nowconcern for many residents in Wheeler County. for everything.” Mitchell residentGroceries in the three towns are more expensivethan those at stores located outside of theCounty. This explained why, when asked where While food grown outside of the County thatthey shop, nearly every resident responded that travels long distances presents some issues, therethey usually make monthly trips to cities up to is increasing interest in and awareness around100 miles away, including Bend, Condon, John opportunities to access locally grown food.Day, Prineville, Hermiston, The Dalles and Tri Spray has a small market entering its secondCites, WA. season and the farmers’ market in Fossil is in the midst of its first season. Both are activelyBoth the quality and price of food were cited as recruiting more produce vendors, indicating thatreasons for shopping out of town. A Mitchell there is a market for locally produced products.resident explained that “no one shops at theMercantile because there are no fresh items; EMERGENCY FOOD. For people using foodfolks have given up on it.” assistance programs, Fossil, Mitchell and Spray each have a grocery store and/or vendor that accept SNAP and WIC benefits. There is only one emergency food pantry in the County, located in Fossil. There are a handful of small farmers that sell directly to the public; only a few of them accept FDNP or WIC Fruit and Veggie Vouchers. Sharing of excess vegetables out of backyard gardens and bartering are alive and popular. See "Addressing Hunger in Wheeler County, 2009" fact sheet (p.56) from the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force. “Someone brought a bus load of seniors in rough shape to the pantry in Fossil.” EMPTY COOLER IN WHEELER CO. GROCERY STORE Wheeler County Commissioner Another more serious reason though, is that Both emergency food boxes and the SNAPmost of the small rural communities are lacking program are important in feeding many peopleother services so people have to travel for other throughout the County as well. Last year 699reasons and do their shopping on the same trip. emergency food boxes were distributed from the“I believe the reason a store has not really grown Fossil Community Food Pantry to 1229 people.in Spray is because people have to go out of This is an important service to many, but theretown anyways. They have to go for their doctor are people that live outside of Fossil thatvisits, if you have anything serious you have to sometimes miss the once a month distributiongo to Bend or Redmond” was a sentiment day. Another strategy to increase availability ofechoed by many. these services voiced by residents is to establish food pantries in Mitchell and Spray, and to offer more distribution days from the pantry in Fossil. Page | 54From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • In 2008 147 people used SNAP benefits in growing produce for personal consumption isWheeler County. It was echoed by many that fraught with difficulty for many residents.SNAP benefits are how many people survive. These gardeners face a short growing season,And while every town has a SNAP retailer, water issues and feral deer populations! Therebenefits cannot be stretched very far because of are season-extending strategies employed bythe higher cost of food. It was shared that many residents, as evidenced by the greenhousespeople using SNAP can’t shop locally because dotting many backyards. Residents in each townit’s not cost effective. “I couldn’t afford to shop echoed the sentiment that city water is expensivein Spray. Even bread is twice or three timeswhat you pay [in John Day or elsewhere].”School meal programs play an important role infeeding children in Wheeler County. Nearly60% of students were eligible to receive free- orreduced-price meals through the National SchoolLunch Program. Many of these students also eatbreakfast at school. There are no Summer LunchPrograms in the County, which have becomemore widespread in recent years, and providefree lunches to all children under the age of 18.This program is a good way to increase access to BACKYARD GARDEN IN FOSSILregular meals for children living in Fossil,Mitchell and Spray, but still doesn’t help those and oftentimes restricted in the long summerliving in rural areas (see "ADDRESSING months. In particular, residents in Spray wereHUNGER in Wheeler County, 2009", page 56) anxious about the City shifting to metered water. This is the first summer that residents will beGROWING OUR OWN. Gardening was charged for water; they used to pay $28 a month.identified by 47.8% of survey respondents as theeducational opportunity they are most interested “I don’t know what the future holds. I canin. Current gardeners and those wanting to learn barely pay for [the water] I’ve got now.”gardening skills expressed interest in Oregon Spray residentState University’s Master Gardener program, butthe nearest program is in Hermiston, a 220 mile There were stories of not planting gardensroundtrip. For many residents, the time because the water costs are an unknown. Feralcommitment and cost of gas make it deer are also a considerable deterrent toimpracticable. This is an issue that is not unique gardening. For example, in Fossil there areto Wheeler County; most of the communities hundreds of deer in town that are aggressive andand individuals in eastern Oregon are destroy gardens. A simple solution is deerunderserved by these services. fencing, but it needs to be 8 feet tall which is an expenditure out of reach for many residents. “We’re going to come back to where we have to garden.” Mitchell resident “I love to work in the garden; I love that part of my life!” Wheeler County residentBack yard gardens are a critical piece of the foodsystem for many, yet as previously explained Page | 55From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • Fossil Community School became a charter “I told my husband to till up the hillside ‘causeschool three years ago, with a focus on a natural I’m growing my own this year.”resource curriculum. So far, this has manifested Wheeler County restaurant owneritself in gardening education and opportunitiesfor students in Fossil. There is a large fencedgarden, greenhouse, worm composting that istended by elementary students and thebeginnings of an orchard. Last year, gardenfood, primarily lettuce, went to the lunchprogram, students and community members inneed. This year there are plots available tocommunity members and several students werehired to manage the garden through the summer.This is a positive shift as one of the greatest FOSSIL CHARTER SCHOOL GARDENneeds identified in Wheeler County was the needfor increased educational opportunities aroundfood, particularly for youth. Page | 56From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • ADDRESSING HUNGER in Wheeler County, 2009WHEELER COUNTY Oregon  In these hard economic times, many more people are hungry, especially children and seniors.  Federal food programs can help feed people and provide economic stimulus for local economies.  Wheeler County could bring in thousands more federal dollars by reaching more eligible people. School Lunches, Breakfast, & SNAP/ Food Stamps Summer Meals In 2008 ~  147 people received SNAP/food stamps per month in Wheeler County.  $167,656 federal dollars were brought into the local economy. If all eligible people were enrolled in SNAP, Wheeler County would have received an additional $227,304 dollars each month in federal money and 277 additional people would have received help putting food on the table.In 2008 ~58.6% of all students were eligible for free and HOW YOU CAN HELPreduced price meals in Wheeler County. Of those who atelunch:  Support public policies that help low-income people meet their basic needs. 73% of them received breakfast.  Support efforts to reach more people through None ate meals through the Summer Food Program. federal food assistance programs.  Refer to the Act to End Hunger for more ideas If all who were eligible for free or reduced price lunch to address hunger in your county. were served, Wheeler County would have received an For specific information additional $9,164 in federal dollars a year and fed an visitwww.oregonhunger.org additional 20 eligible low-income children. Women, Infants & Emergency Farm Direct AfterschoolChildren Program (WIC)* Food Assistance Nutrition Program Meals & SnacksIn 2008, WIC served 7,072 In 2008, 467 food boxes Seniors and WIC families During the 2007/08 schoolpregnant or breast- provided emergency food redeemed in $0 in coupons year, 0 suppers werefeeding women, infants to help families make ends in the county, though these served in high need areas.and children* under five, meet. coupons may have beenrepresenting 45% of all redeemed in nearbypregnant women (compared counties.to 40% statewide average). * WIC data for Wheeler County cannot be extracted from Umatilla – Morrow Head Start data Wheeler County Demographic Information Total Population: 1,575 Children 0-18 years: 316  People in Poverty: 272 (17.3%)  Children in Poverty: 92 (29.1%) Page | 57 From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • To increase self-sufficiency and food securityCONCLUSION for all residents and their communities as aWhen viewed through the lens of food security, whole, many solutions were identified by theWheeler County faces some serious issues. residents of Wheeler County. TheseThese issues are not unique to this county alone; opportunities are outlined next, and incorporatemany of the food availability, accessibility and many ideas offered throughout our interviews,affordability are common across eastern Oregon. meetings and focus groups in Fossil, MitchellYet the people of this rugged region appear to be and Spray. The people that live in this Countybetter positioned to, and indeed are already are best prepared to know what solutions aretaking control of their destiny. most needed and achievable; most of the action steps outlined below have come directly fromRanching has been central to culture and the community members themselves.economy of Wheeler County since 19th century.The varied landscape and scarcity of water makecrop production difficult in this region thereforeit is not surprising that ranching continues to be POST-STUDY NOTE: Between the beginningimportant. The John Day River traverses the and end of our assessment period, the groceryCounty providing irrigation waters and a longer, store in Mitchell was sold and closed. Citizenssometimes up to 6 months, growing season. have begun exploring options for acquiring it orThere are several small farms and many gardens creating another retail grocery option in theirthat take advantage of these conditions and grow town. Standing out as empowered and proactiveamazing fruits and vegetables. amongst the four counties assessed, WheelerSocioeconomic indicators show Wheeler County County residents have also created aas one of the most struggling counties in Community Food Security group to spear-headOregon—it has the highest rate of childhood citizen-led initiatives and projects, and overseepoverty, lowest median household income and longer-term policy and planning efforts. Aan economy concentrated in only a few sectors. Wheeler County Action Plan has also beenThis, coupled with its isolation, is very developed to address their needs and implementconcerning. Yet the residents of Wheeler County opportunities they think will meet the needsare a tough, proud and independent, and have a described in the Recommendations following.deep understanding of their assets and apropensity for innovative solutions to thedifficulties they face. Page | 57From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of Wheeler County, OR
  • OPPORTUNITIES IN WHEELER COUNTYRecommendation 1: Increase outreach and networking around local food and farm opportunities.1. Continue to build and expand community dialogue around local food and farming.2. Utilize the County website as a central networking location to facilitate connections within the County and region.3. Develop and implement a public education campaign on the benefits of healthy eating habits and a local food system.4. Explore organizational models for the Local Foods Committee.Recommendation 2: Expand educational opportunities for community members.1. Identify and distribute cooking and meal planning educational materials.2. Identify, and coordinate with gardening and agricultural education resources to increase production skills.3. Identify, and coordinate with nutrition educators and experts to increase understanding and the practice of healthy eating habits.4. Expand agricultural opportunities for youth.Recommendation 3: Increase the production of food for local consumption.1. Create a gardening network to share ideas and resources for community gardens, communal gardening, yard-sharing and distribution of excess produce.2. Explore and implement season extending strategies.3. Develop solutions that address deer and water issues such as fencing, water conservation and education.Recommendation 4: Increase the number of venues featuring locally or regionally produced food.1. Identify institutional food purchasers and engage and educate them about purchasing locally or regionally produced food.2. Establish, expand and support farmers’ markets region-wide.3. Increase the amount of local or regionally produced food available in grocery stores and restaurants.4. Explore interest in farm-to-school programs, and establish where feasible. Page | 58Our Roots: Agriculture, Food & the People of Wheeler County, Oregon
  • Recommendation 5: Ensure access to a stable fresh food supply for all citizens year-round.1. Increase the amount of fresh food available to and at food pantries.2. Establish more programs that feed children including summer lunch, fresh snacks, breakfast, dinner and weekend meals.3. Establish Farm Direct Nutrition Program Coupon and WIC Fruit and Veggie Voucher retailers in every community.4. Establish food pantries in every community.5. Support and expand viability of grocery stores that are responsive to community needs in every community.Recommendation 6: Develop a stronger local food system infrastructure.1. Equip and staff school kitchens to enable preparation of meals from scratch.2. Ensure that food is considered in the County emergency management plan.3. Identify or build a cold storage facility.4. Establish a distribution network for transportation of locally-produced food to markets within the County and into the larger region. Page | 59Our Roots: Agriculture, Food & the People of Wheeler County, Oregon
  • CHAPTER 6—REGIONAL ASSESSMENT BLUE MOUNTAINS AND SOUTH COLUMBIA PLATEAUWhere you live often has the biggest impact on the shortest distance possible from itsyour access to opportunity. The task for all of us consumers; and also to depict the trend of re-is to focus on the work of improving the entire localizing food systems for more communityregion without losing sight of the particular control and choice. Community and regionalchallenges facing low-income individuals and food are synonymous with "local food".communities. This final chapter takes a brieflook at the broader-scale food system strengths REGIONAL FOODSHED. The "Big River"and assets, focusing on the economic runs through it. Though this CFA focusedopportunities that arise in a slightly larger more exclusively on the four counties of CAPECOsdiverse, better integrated foodshed. emergency food service area (which includes portions of the Blue Mountains and the southern portion of the Columbia River Plateau), there are"No community should rely exclusively on many reasons to plan for and build a "locallocal food - outside trading partnerships and foodshed" that is larger, spanning both sides ofrelationships protect against adverse weather, the Big River. And though the stakeholders oflocal calamity or production shortfalls, and From Our Roots will be implementing actions inprovide diverse and unique foods and only the four Oregon Counties, the entiremarketing opportunities." Wendell Berry Columbia Plateau, crossing two states (and three nations, including the original Native Americans), numerous counties and jurisdictions, is possibly a more appropriateAgain, we must note that generally the term"local food" is used to signify food that is grown Page | 60From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • scale for a discussion of food system region could build upon is its cultural/social opportunities for reasons well describe below. diversity. A simple depiction of this enlarged "foodprint", DIVERSE CULTURE. Not only is there is in seen in Figure 1 below, (from Pendleton strong regional sense of place and history, it is Farmers Market, 2005). This "crop circle" complimented by an increasingly diverse set of foodshed contains significant crop diversity, people and cultures, employment opportunities soil, precipitation and climactic variation. It and wealth. encompasses hundreds of small towns, many food deserts, large urban centers and The double-sided coin of culture is a valuable institutional purchasers, and many one and, if spent judiciously, could pay good transportation, storage, processing and dividends over time - in tangible economic, distribution facilities. For these and other marketing opportunities for "branded", reasons, it serves a variety of farming styles and differentiated agricultural products and local scales and makes for a viable agricultural specialties, as well as those less-tangible but marketing and production area. very real benefits associated with community values, visions and quality of life issues. Figure 1 Communities that express or share a deep sense Odessa , WA of culture and place are often blessed with strong community cohesion and care-taking. Where there was a sense of shared hardship, a shared purpose also emerged, to take action on behalf of the whole community, as in the case of Wheeler County. Facilitating a common purpose, vision and direction was a main goal of Hells Canyon all our organizing and community workshops,The Dalles Pendleton  especially with the FEASTs ©. These first efforts met with varying levels of response and success, but open the door for more. Strong local culture and community cohesion, John Day  on the other hand, can become a weakness if OR - FYI. taken to the extreme if instead of promoting a I dont common good, it cultivates social boundaries or think this COLUMBIA- BLUE MOUNTAIN FOODPRINT (PFM, 05) geographic isolation between groups within the is community. As discovered in interviews and PEOPLE proposal focus groups, negative cultural norms and biases is The previous chapters presented a limited look were occasionally felt by community confidenti at the demographic make-up of people in the newcomers, pantry participants, and migrants. al, as all four counties - e.g. education, health, welfare. In some cases at the local and regional levels, players As noted, there are challenges as well as we saw limited conversation and/or should be resources and assets in these social arenas. We collaboration across community and in-the- cannot comment on the socio-demographics for jurisdictional lines, with people operating within know....I the expanded foodshed, but a one thing the "silos" of traditional, familiar comfort zones. mentione d you/ OR Page | 61 From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau Solutions to Craig Smith,
  • "No culture will survive that attempts to be eat and purchase healthy, local whole foods.exclusive." Mahatma Gandhi Enacting buy local campaigns at county, regional and state levels could help to raiseGenerally speaking and to its detriment, inter- customer awareness and incentives to supportorganizational, inter-community and cross- the growers and markets.county linkages outside of time-honored orhabitual activities appeared weak in the southern AGRICULTUREPlateau (OR) region. It is likely that DIVERSE AGRICULTURE. Variety within theWashington state stands in a similar situation. "agro-economy" of the Columbia Plateau is substantial. As seen in Figure 2, farm sizes inThe blessing of newcomers is that they bring east-central OR range from enormous to petite;different knowledge, commitment, skills and there are economic opportunities at every scale.traditions, adding vitality and energy to Figure 2 depicts farm size, with Umatilla Co.potentially static communities. In this case, leading the four CAPECO counties in diversity,perhaps bringing new work force skills, hosting almost three times the number of smalldifferent food interests, or agricultural practices. farms (under 50 acres) as large ones (over 500Communities that can build on whats new and acres). Contiguous counties on the Washingtondifferent add value to their community by side of the Columbia River (Walla Walla,encouraging creative outside-the-box thinking, Dayton, Franklin and Benton) have similar farmbreaking business-as-usual cycles, and possibly statistics and assets as Umatilla County.bridging us and them kinds of divisions or Together, these well-irrigated and moderatelyimpasses. populous Oregon and Washington counties have strong "local food" growth opportunities.Another way to add value to the food system isto increase the amount of education available - Figure 2individuals and agencies on both sides of theColumbia River recognize this, and have begunto take action.EDUCATION. In accordance with our producersurvey responses, increased sales are dependenton two things: raising their own skill level withfull-season crop production, and raisingconsumer awareness and knowledge about howand what to buy, when, why and where, andwhat to do with it at home! Agencies,organizations and funding that can support thisneed now abound! LOCAL AG. As stated in previous chapters, theConsumers (teachers, health practitioners, pantry smaller, less-conventional niche-basedclients and students among them) corroborated agricultural sector appeared to us most nimblethe need for their own education, suggesting and able to adapt to, and expand rural food andcooking and nutrition classes and other farm economies. A regional agriculturalintegrated outreach and marketing efforts to economic market analysis has yet to beincrease peoples ability and inclination to grow, undertaken, but it is recommended. This type of Page | 62From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • analysis has been conducted across the state and Table 1nation, with eye-opening information about theflow of food into and out of a foodshed, and at Regional (east-central OR) Fruit & Veggiewhat cost or benefit to those who grow, eat and Demand vs. Actual Production ( # acres)market the food. Crop Demand Actual Surplus/ or (Deficit)Other research shows significant agricultural Carrots 25 973 948economic benefits to re-localizing fresh foodproduction and consumption. For example, an Cucumbers 32 11 (21)Iowan study (Leopold Center, Iowa State Dry onions 35 6,481 6,446University, 2009) concluded that if Iowans were Peppers 20 3 (17)to purchase seven servings of fruits and Potatoes 181 21,652 21,471vegetables locally for just three months of the Pumpkins 16 12 (4)year, the direct and indirect economic benefits Sweet corn 73 2,107 2,034would amount to the creation of almost 6,000 Tomatoes 57 24 (33)jobs both on and off the farm. Oregon and Iowashare similar demographics and population size - Watermelons 47 842 795might we see similar benefits here? Apples 68 2,936 2,868 Apricots 1 2 1This same study also provides a formula for Sweet 12 892 880estimating the amount of land that might be cherriesneeded to grow the requisite number of Nectarines 17 3 (14)vegetables that Iowans typically eat during theyear (http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/research/ Peaches 27 18 (9)calculator/home.htm). Blueberries 7 102 95 Raspberries 4 6 2Using that formula and US Dept. of Agriculture Strawberries 10 2 (8)census data (2007) for the study area counties of TOTAL 29,346 (106)east-central OR, Table 1 approximates whatgrowth in acreage might be needed in Gilliam, Demand acreage is calculated from the LeopoldMorrow, Umatilla and Wheeler Counties to meet Center for Sustainable Agriculture Produce Potential Market Calculatortheir residents demands for 17 basic and popularfood crops (excluding commodity crops like Actual acreage from 2007 Census of Agriculturegrain, dairy). According to the formulacalculation, these Counties together have INFRASTRUCTURE. Technical, infrastructuralsurplus acreage in ten crops beyond residents food system components (storage, transport,demands, and a very small deficit of acreage to processing, etc.) has evolved to meetmeet the demand for seven other crops. It would conventional production-ag needs. Atake very little to meet consumer demand for corresponding loss of infrastructural support forthese crops. And following this, the next smaller-scale more traditional (though nowdeterminant (and opportunity) would be to called "alternative") food production has alsoensure that customers have access to whats occurred. According to our surveys, thosebeing grown, through adequate infrastructure, or farmers expressed need for more networks offood and farming facilities. grower associations, niche marketing groups, Page | 63From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • more retail outlets and institutional sales, and many regional institutions such as hospitals,processing, storage and transportation options. prisons, universities, care facilities and public school districts, all of whom are gearing up forA promising food system development for this local farm purchases. Small farms studies showniche could also be community kitchens or that having diverse marketing options isprocessing facilities accessible to growers. One essential for the stability and success of this sizeexample of this is the Blue Mountain Station, an grower. Over time the goal is to enable greatereco-food processing center in Dayton WA. (Port supply and more accessible markets to shortenof Columbia) which is dedicated to artisan food the distance between the farm and moreprocessors, primarily in the natural and organic localized clientele.sectors - the only one in our area. Increasing the number of local growers couldFARM-DIRECT SALES. When considering also increase the amount of farm-related sales infarm viability, growers able to sell regionally local communities (farmers tend to purchasecould have access to many lucrative markets and close to home). This would be another boon todiverse customer groups on both sides of the the local economy, potentially countering someRiver. On the Washington side there are a of the lost business occurring because of farmnumber of farmers markets in larger urban consolidations, and decreases land in undercenters, adding to the 6-8 small markets in the production, through the Conservation Reservefour Oregon counties (similar numbers exist Program, for instance, as mentioned in Gilliamfurther east across the Blue Mountains toward County.Idaho. As always, supply and demand must beIn the local arena, farmers markets are sufficiently linked to influence each other. Thismicrocosms of this supply and demand cycle. is the grail for local food system development,They must attract and retain a minimum number most likely to occur when interaction,of growers and products to attract customers, infrastructure, interest and investment areand enough customers to support and encourage interconnected and talking to each other. Onethe producers. This is a persistent, solvable recognized shift in our food system is to thinkproblem. Market development, whether for an about it as a "web" rather than the "food chain"individual farm-stand, farmers market, or local that has been popularized since the advent ofgrocery store depends on scale-appropriate industrial food production. Expanding theexpectations and correlated growth in both nascent Columbia Plateau Food Links groupdemand. This see-saw of supply and demand efforts to both sides of the River, or to launchdrives affordability, accessibility and new groups, such as a regional food policyavailability. The formula for success in tiny group, could do much to integrate and buildcommunities is in nurturing the seedlings and linkages across food system stakeholder groups.start-up entrepreneur which, if selling a basicneed called "food", could form the backbone of OPPORTUNITIES. Large-scale production islocal employment options. generally the norm in the region, and though we focus on small producers, we heard from severalSome growers are beginning to test the sources that even these bigger conventional"Community Supported Agriculture" (CSA) growers could benefit with new, alternativemodels that prove so successful in other areas. options for storing, processing, distributing, andAdditionally, and more lucrative still, are the marketing conventionally grown crops. Page | 64From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • One case in point is Hardwick, Vermont, a shortage of storage, processing, distribution andscrappy town of 3,000 people which, according marketing mechanisms for fresh, whole foodsto the NY Times (Oct. 08, 2008) saved its future that drives availability, accessibility,through food, recently adding 75-100 new jobs affordability.through local cooperative and collaborativegrowth of their small-scale food and farming Recommendations throughout this study focusenterprises. Sharing everything from facilities to on expanding local food choices. Grocery stores,farms, capital to cheese caves, seeds to stories, farmers markets and food pantries, schools andthese "agri-preneurs" have built small successful care facilities are the main sources or suppliersbusinesses and attracted newcomers, such the of food that come to mind - all challenged byVermont Food Venture Center, and the Center location and scale. The challenge, across thefor Agricultural Economy who moved in to board, is to re-set the stage so that localshare in the energy and vitality that is also being enterprise is built on scale-appropriateraised here. And create more jobs. expectations with correlated growth in both demand and supply (always cognizant ofThe truism that necessity is the mother of external drivers and forces, and working to adaptinvention has a follow-up adage: where there is to those for continued local benefit).need there is a market - as there always will befor food, water, air and shelter. There are At farmers markets, for instance, in order tolucrative opportunities with more local control qualify as a SNAP or WIC-approved marketand choices for the Columbia Plateau. We fully there must be an adequate number of foodexpect to see local activity arising to meet that producers and products available to serve theneed. eligible customers which, in turn, serves customers of all income-levels. The moreAnother very in-depth focusing on a combined successful regional markets have made thatOregon and Washington food system, is called transition in size (of supply and demand) are"Planting Prosperity and Harvesting Health: able to offer the choice of alternative purchasingTrade-offs and Sustainability in the Oregon- options. In some cases, there are state andWashington Regional Food System"(2008). This federal supports for doing so. We expect to seecollaborative report from the Institute of strong movement in this direction of makingPortland Metropolitan Studies, College of Urban more local food available and affordable throughand Public Affairs and Kaiser Permanente and local farmers market development.the Institute explores a regional food systemwith goals in resource stewardship, economic GROCERY STORES. Food retailers in isolated rural communities and "food deserts" are caughtprosperity and diversity, food access and choice, in a similar cycle of low supply and demand.market expansion and infrastructural support,land-base maintenance, justice and resiliency. Recent research suggests a population of at leastAnd though 3,500 is needed for a traditional, independently owned and operated rural grocery store toFOOD succeed. (Jon Bailey, Center for Rural"Because no one should be hungry..." and yet, Assistance, 2010). Our CFA found severalpeople are. Given the preceding information we communities of less than 1,500 that hadknow there is no food shortage per se here. As successful (though sometimes pinched fortypical elsewhere in the world, it is generally a profit) grocery stores in town. Undoubtedly there are reasons for store success and failure in Page | 65From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • the smallest communities: having a captive from going to waste with increased connectivitycustomer base with no other choices; having a and communication.local commitment to support local enterprises;having the "luxury" of choosing to pay Along those lines are other local gleaningpotentially higher local prices, for high value programs - these are remarkably few but mostlocal production, and so forth. In the event of certainly be strengthened and expanded upon.losing a traditional grocery retailer, the Center Whether from a farmers field or orchard, tofor Rural Assistance reports on several other urban gleaning from backyard fruit trees,workable models (in articles "Rural Grocery community gardens, and farmers markets are allStores: Importance and Challenges," and "Rural options being implemented around the nationGrocery Stores: Ownership Models that Work," and have something for this region to learn from.available at www.cfra.org.). These food retailalternatives include community-owned stores, CONCLUSIONcooperatives, and school-based stores. Towns Viewed through the lens of food security,like Mitchell, OR, which has just seen the Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheelerclosure of its last grocery store now has an Counties face some serious issues. They are notopportunity that requires the entire community alone in this. Taken as a whole, and networkedto talk, think, plan and act together for its own with the surrounding foodshed, the east-centrallong-term benefit and common good. counties on both sides of the Big River couldEMERGENCY FOOD. All told, on both sides mobilize resources to alleviate hunger, and to positively impact the root causes of hungerof the Columbia River there are many foodsupports for people in need, but not in adequate through new employment options and access and availability improvements.amounts, nor are they being accessed orimplemented equally. CAPECOS regional The on-going and expanding efforts mentionedNeeds Assessment noted a negative perception here have the power to create greater food(even self-imposed stigma) for being "poor", security, and regional resiliency. Many of them,which influences how readily people offer or however, are operating alone, under-recognized,accept assistance, or the opportunities and or with little coordination and integration withcreativity that arise from bona fide need. economic and community development. Many others have yet to be discovered, or created, andSome food system networks do exist, and canhelp us pull together: The Oregon Food Bank strengthened. Working with groups like theworks closely with a NW regional coordinating Columbia Plateau Food Links the efforts ofagencies (First Harvest) and the national level many could be integrated and coordinated forFeeding America to cull, glean and gather food greatest effect.donated and purchased from farmers, food THE HIGHEST NEEDS. The top three needsprocessors, retailers and manufacturers for the and recommendations for the counties ofemergency food system. Other organizations, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and Wheeler, are aslike Ample Harvest (.org) work to connect follow:individual pantries in communities across thenation to local farmers and gardeners for their 1) Expand accessible and affordable year-rounddonated surplus. From the top down, there are local food resources, including gardens, farmfood resources that can be rescued, prevented stands and markets, emergency resources and retail options; Page | 66From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • 2) Increase education and skills around cooking, state issues at this time (which wasnt alwaysgardening, nutrition, shopping and the case). Creating more direct connectionshunting/harvesting (in that order) for all sectors between farmers and consumers, encouragingof the community; the growth of direct marketing, including food as an element of planning and management, will3) Strengthen and expand community and all contribute to the sustainability of our foodregional networking to develop awareness, system. Rather than buying food with noappropriate production, infrastructure, and understanding of where it came from, how or bysynergistic local food projects. whom it was grown, we can learn to appreciateAnd while From Our Roots focused on each the importance of a local, community or regional food system. Helping our system operate in acountys ability to grow and eat food within itsborders, the smart, safe thing to do is to work way that creates profits for all the stakeholders,across boundaries and borders, creating new farmers, processors, retailers and consumers, isrelationships and connecting stakeholders critical. Strengthening the knowledge of and connections among the regions growers,throughout the regional foodshed. processors, chefs, institutional buyers andThe opportunities or Recommendations consumers may improve our ability to derivefollowing synthesize or are built upon the many profits from our local markets, pleasure fromideas offered throughout our report, but are delicious healthy food, economic, environmentaldeveloped for grander-scale development and and cultural benefits of a healthy regional foodimplementation than for a single county. They system.have also been derived without input from theorganizations or individuals who serve the Taken as a whole there are options and assetsregion as a whole. In fact, there are few regional enough to make this region self-reliant, resiliententities that do focus on multi-county or multi- and sustainable. Page | 67From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • OPPORTUNITIES IN THE REGIONAL FOODSHEDRecommendation 1: Recognize the value of an expanding, diversified local food system as a region-wide development strategy. 1. Expand and deepen regional conversations and collaboration between agencies, municipalities, and organizations involved and invested in regional health and well-being. 2. Explore and encourage scale-appropriate funding, resource development, and policy and zoning mechanisms (optimizing equitable land use, labor, water rights, hunting and gathering options, cultural values, for instance) to expand local/regional food production, processing facilities, agro- tourism, farm-direct marketing and production. 3. Conduct a regional agricultural market analysis. 4. Ensure that a safe, adequate, sustainable and nutritional food supply is considered in community development and emergency management plans. 5. Reinvigorate and "update" for the 21st century the traditional rural/local food, farming and cultural values that support self-sufficiency and sustainability. 6. Create bridges between rural and urban centers for increased diversity and capacity in marketing, and common ways of thinking. 7. Facilitate the development of geographic "local food" definitions, and the marketing, branding, differentiation and appreciation of regional food and agricultural products. 8. Advocate for local/ regional small-scale food & farming values and interests at the state level.Recommendation 2: Increase production and availability of local or regionally produced food. 1. Explore funding, training and technical supports for climate/region-specific season-extending and water and energy conservation technologies for year-round produce growing and marketing. 2. Increase regional food system infrastructure including transportation options, distribution, produce and grain storage and processing facilities; meat slaughter and processing units for all animals, including poultry and pork. 3. Identify and encourage more farm-direct production and processing options for diverse, alternative and value-added crops and food products, that meet the regions food needs.Recommendation 3: Expand farm-direct marketing opportunities. 1. Develop regional "branding" and farm product differentiation and marketing schemes/tools. 2. Increase farm-direct purchasing and marketing venues and contracts in a) retail grocery stores, Page | 68From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • b) restaurants, c) local institutions; d) CSAs, e) U-pick and f) value-added enterprises. 3. Identify large purchasers of food and engage them in local or regional food purchasing dialogue; and work with state agencies involved in these issues (ODA, ODE, OSU, OR legislature). 4. Explore and develop producer cooperatives (delivery, purchasing, marketing) where feasible. 5. Sustain and expand farm-direct marketing venues such as farmers markets, farm stands, .Recommendation 4: Expand awareness and education opportunities around local food andfarming. 1. Increase both school-based and community-based education and awareness programs that emphasize the interconnected nature of individual, community, economic and environmental health. 2. Identify and coordinate with educational institutions and school districts to expand local food and farming curriculum and employment opportunities for students and community members. 6. Explore, develop and conduct producer-purchaser work groups and workshops, certification, education and internship opportunities for local farm-direct producers. 3. Identify existing, or develop new educational resources to build knowledge about hunting, fishing and harvesting wild foods; specific areas might include identification, cooking, preservation, rights and responsibilities. 4. Identify current and new nutrition, gardening and agricultural education resources for youth and home gardeners, and increase use of those resources. 5. Identify and create collaborative health-promoting activities with local, regional and state-wide partners - local hospitals, city and county planners, state-wide health advocates. 6. Community kitchens/processing facility...see Cynthias recommendations 7.Recommendation 5: Increase outreach and networking about the benefits and value of a stronglocal food system. 1. Develop and implement public education campaigns, workshops and conferences on the benefits of healthy eating habits, local purchasing/marketing ("buy local") campaigns, and local food and farming opportunities. 2. Establish, or strengthen existing county-wide development strategies and communications between public and private organizations that are involved in food system activities. 3. Support expansion and viability of the local foods network, the Columbia Plateau Food Links to facilitate sharing of local food and farming ideas and resources. 4. Coordinate with other regional and state networks to further community food and farm efforts. Page | 69From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • Recommendation 6: Ensure regular access to a stable fresh food supply for low-income citizensyear-round. 1. Expand the awareness and participation rates of lower income residents in addressing food security issues and solutions across the region. 2. Increase understanding and use of nutrition access programs including SNAP, WIC and FDNP at agency and individual levels. 3. Establish WIC Fruit and Veggie Voucher retailers in every community. 4. Work with regional and state-wide food security and advocacy groups (CAPECO, OR Food Bank, Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force, etc.). 5. Establish programs that feed children including summer lunch, fresh snacks, breakfast, dinner and weekend meals where feasible. 6. Increase the amount of fresh food available at food pantries. 7. Explore "Healthy Corner Stores" or equivalent program to support underserved neighborhoods and communities. 8. Implement farm-to-school programs where feasible . 9. Work collectively to overcome stigma and bias against people in poverty and Page | 70From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • CHAPTER 7—DEVELOPMENT OF THE STUDYThis chapter describes the research design and involving diverse stakeholders across the foodmethodology. The data sources are outlined system and leading to the creation of county-followed by the methodology by which the specific recommendations to build a more foodproject was designed and implemented. Finally, secure region.the limitations and value of the project aresummarized. LIMITATIONS AND VALUE OF THE STUDYDATA SOURCE This CFA was used to gain better understandingData for this study was collected from multiple of the existing structure and identify potentialsources. The economic and demographic data solutions to create a more food secure region.came from the Indicators Northwest website, Due to the limited understanding of the foodOregon Hunger Task Force and Worksource system in the region there was very little data orOregon. Agriculture data came from the United research to draw upon to inform this work. TheStates Department of Agriculture Census of CFA is the first project in the region to take aAgriculture. broad, community-based approach to examiningEmpirical data was collected from a series of the food system in its entirety.informal conversations, key informant What we have gathered is limited in its depthinterviews, stakeholder meetings, FEAST and scope, but serves as good foundational layer,workshops and focus groups in communities somewhat experiential and anecdotal butthroughout Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla and nonetheless, valid. Specifically, this processWheeler Counties. identified issues and needs unique to each county because of the effort to involve allMETHODOLOGY community members. The intent of this report isThe CFA used a mixed methods approach that to continue to increase awareness andcombined the use of quantitative and qualitative understanding of these issues, engage diversedata. Qualitative data (conversations, interviews, stakeholders in the process and collectivelymeetings and focus groups) and quantitative data begin working on potential solutions outlined for(agricultural and socioeconomic data) were each county. This work is important becausecollected simultaneously to create an integrated everyone should have access to healthy foodanalysis that explored a wide range of food regardless of their location or socioeconomicsystem issues. This approach provided a broad status.regional analysis of the existing food system and The newly developed awareness and knowledgeused interview, focus group and meeting regarding the many assets and needs in thesediscussions as empirical evidence to identify counties provides the building blocks for furtherassets and needs in Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla efforts and activities. The CFA is meant to be aand Wheeler Counties. The simultaneous working document as many perspectives andcollection and analysis of different data types questions remain unexplored and unanswered.provided a comprehensive examination of food-related issues. This method proved effective in Page | 71From Our Roots: The People, Agriculture & Food of the Columbia Plateau
  • GLOSSARYFood System TermsThe Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is a cost-share and rental payment program underthe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and is administered by the USDA FarmService Agency (FSA). Technical assistance for CRP is provided by the USDA Forest Serviceand the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS).Custom-exempt slaughter and processing—meat that is slaughtered and processed for theexclusive use of the owner, the owner’s family and non-paying guests. These facilities areexpected to meet the same requirements that USDA-inspected plants must meet.Farm-direct— sales made directly from a farmer to a customer.Farm Direct Nutrition Program (FDNP) — a dual-agency program (OR Dept of HumanServices and Dept. of Agriculture) that distributes coupons (as available) to income eligiblesenior citizens and families enrolled in WIC programs. These coupons are used to purchase freshfruit and vegetables directly from authorized farmers at farm stands and farmers markets June-October.Food Security— when all citizens are able to obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious dietthrough a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self-reliance andequal access for everyone.Local [food] - defined simply as the closest distance from which a food product is grown andmust travel to reach the consumer.Organic—label used under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act that establishednational standards for the production and handling of foods labeled as organic.SNAP— Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food StampProgramUSDA inspected meat processing— meat that is slaughtered and processed in a USDAinspected facility for sale to the general public. The two closest USDA plants are Pasco, WA andPrineville, OR.WIC - Women, Infants & Children; (WIC) Fruit and Veggies Voucher Program—distributes vouchers to families enrolled in WIC. These vouchers are used to purchase fresh fruitand vegetables directly from authorized farmers and grocery stores year-round. Page | 72
  • WORKS CITEDBailey, Jon. Center for Rural Assistance (2010) retrieved Nov. 1, 2010 from http:// www.crfa.org.Blanchard, Lois Wright Morton and Troy C. Rural Realities (2007). "Starved for Access: Life in RuralAmericans Food Deserts". Rural Sociological Society, Volume 1 | Issue 4Burrows, Marian. "Uniting to Save an Ailing Town". New York Times, Oct. 0-8, 2008. Retrieved Oct.13, 2008Sorte, Bruce M. C., Corp, M., Kaiser, C. & Mills, R. (2009, October). "Minimum Parcel Size for ViableAdaptive Farms in Umatilla County: An Economic Analysis". Retrieved August 25, 2010, fromhttp://www.co.umatilla.or.us/planning/pdf/Draft%20Report%20102209.pdfCensus of Agriculture. (2007). Retrieved from http://www.agcensus.usda.govFourth Biennial Report. (1911). Retrieved June 2010, from Workshops, Bureau of Labor Statistics andInspector of Factories and: http://www.google.com/books?id=ZSUoAAAAYAAJFrontier Education Center. (1998, April). Frontier: A New Definition. Retrieved June 2010, from NationalCenter for Frontier Communities: http://www.frontierus.org/documents/consensus_paper.htmHamm, M., & Bellows, A. (2003). Community Food Security and Nutrition Educators. Journal ofNutrition Education and Behavior , 37-43.Highlights of Agriculture. (1992 & 1987). Retrieved June 2010, from Census of Agriculture:http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/1992/State_and_County_Highlights/datafile/orc011.txtIndicators Northwest. (2009). Retrieved June 2010, from http://www.indicatorsnorthwest.orgInstitute of Portland Metropolitan Studies, College of Urban and Public Affairs, "Planting Prosperity andHarvesting Health: Trade-offs and Sustainability in the Oregon-Washington Regional Food System" (Oct2008). Retrieved from http://www.pdx.edu/sites/www.pdx.edu.ims/files/media_assets/ims_foodsystemsfinalreport.pdfwww.pdx.edu/ims (11/31/10).Oregon Downtown Development Association (ODDA, 2007) Pendleton Downtown BusinessDevelopment Study. ESRI Business Information Solutions, Marketek, Inc.Pirog, Rich, et al (March, 2008). Marketing and Food Systems Initiative. Leopold Center for SustainableAgriculture. http://leopold.iastate.edu/research/marketing_files/food/food.htmPopulation Estimates. (2008, July). Retrieved June 2010, from U.S. Census Bureau:http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/SUB-EST2009-4.htmlPothukuchi, K. H., Joseph, H., Burton, H., & Fisher, A. (2002). Whats cooking in your food system? Aguide to community food assessment. Los Angeles: Community Food Security Coalition.Taylor, G. (2000). Retrieved June 2010, from Oregon Climate Service: http://ocs.orst.edu Page | 73
  • Trends in Diabetes and Obesity. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from National Center for Disease Control,County Prevalence Data: http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_STRS2/CountyPrevalenceData.aspx?stateld=41Umatilla County (2010). Dept. of Land Use Planning. August 25, 2010.http://www.co.umatilla.or.us/planning/index/.htmWeaver, K. (2009). Conversations across the Food System: A Report on the Food, Agriculture and thePeople of Southeast Oregon. Portland: Oregon Food Bank.Worksource Oregon. (2010, June). Retrieved July 2010, fromhttp://www.qualityinfo.org/olmisj/OlmisZine?zineid=00000011 Page | 74
  • APPENDICESAppendix 1. Columbia Plateau Producer SurveyQuestion - percentage response - # of Question - percentage response - # of responsesresponsesThe land you farm or ranch is: What are your plans for your farm in the future? Increase land under 63.9% 23 33.3% 12owned by you cultivationleased 13.9% 5 Stay the same 33.3% 12both 22.2% 8 Diversify current operation 33.3% 12How many acres do you have in cultivation Decrease land under 0.0% 0or have in use for grazing this year? cultivationunder 1 5.6% 2 Sell the farm 0.0% 01-5 16.7% 6 Retire 0.0% 06-20 13.9% 5 Where are your products sold?21-40 8.3% 3 Locally, within 100 miles 64.7% 22 Regionally (Pacific 5.6% 2 41.2% 1441-160 Northwest)161-500 8.3% 3 Nationally 11.8% 4501-1000 8.3% 3 Internationally 5.9% 2over 1000 33.3% 12 If you direct market, how do you sell your products?Which of the following do you grow or 70.0% 21raise: Farmers marketGoats 8.3% 3 Farm stand 23.3% 7Dairy cows 2.8% 1 CSA 26.7% 8Berries 13.9% 5 U-Pick 13.3% 4 Institution (schools, 16.7% 6 16.7% 5Fruit hospitals)Vegetables 63.9% 23 Restaurant 26.7% 8Herbs 16.7% 6 Producers cooperative 3.3% 1Grains 27.8% 10 Grocery store 46.7% 14Beef 44.4% 16 Internet 36.7% 11Pork 5.6% 2 To what extent do the following factors limit direct-sales opportunities?Poultry/eggs 19.4% 7 Answer Options Not at all Somewhat Very muchLamb 16.7% 6 Cost of labor 8 15 11Legumes 13.9% 5 Insufficient access to labor 19 14 1Other ( specify) 19.4% 7 Government regulations & policies 9 18 7Do you create value-added products with Communication & marketing with retailers & consumers 8 17 9what you produce?No 33.3% 12 Lack of demand for local products 13 14 7No, but Id like to 19.4% 7 Insufficient supply to meet demand 14 17 3Yes (please 47.2% 17 11 16 7specify) Lack of distribution systemCheck all of the following production 14 16 4practices you use: Lack of processing facilitiesConventional 50.0% 18 Lack of skills and experience 23 9 2Certified organic 13.9% 5 Too time intensive 6 25 3Non-certified 30.6% 11 13 15 6organic Not profitable enoughTransitioning to 2.8% 1organicBiodynamic 0.0% 0 Page | 75
  • Production Practices you use:Grass-finished 38.9% 14 What is your gender?Free-range 25.0% 9 Female 39.4% 13Permaculture 0.0% 0 Male 60.6% 20Other (please specify) 13.9% 5 What is your age?Certifications? Under 25 0.0% 0 No, butAnswer Options Yes No Im 15.2% 5 interested 26-35Organic 6 24 6 36-45 24.2% 8Food Alliance 1 26 9 46-55 33.3% 11Salmon Safe 0 30 6 56-65 27.3% 9Good Agricultural 4 20 12 0.0% 0Practices 66 and overHumane Raised and 0 26 10Handled How important is off-farm income to your family?Grass-fed 2 28 6 Very 42.4% 14 Somewhat 42.4% 14 Not at all 15.2% 5How often do you use the following for gathering information:Answer Options Often Sometime Never Average CountInternet 26 7 0 1.79 33Social media (i.e.Facebook, Twitter, 9 9 15 0.82 33blogs)Magazines 20 12 1 1.58 33Books 19 13 1 1.55 33Word of mouth 27 6 0 1.82 33Print newsletters 11 19 3 1.24 33Newspapers 17 13 3 1.42 33Do you participate or are you interested in participating in any of the following? No, but likeAnswer Options Yes No Response Count infoFarm Direct NutritionProgram (senior and 15 8 10 33WIC vouchers)SNAP/EBT (formerly 3 12 18 33Food Stamp Program)Low-income CommunitySupported Agriculture 5 10 18 33(CSA)Donations to food 13 10 10 33pantries 33 6 9 18Donations to meal sites 33 3 9 21Gleaning Page | 76
  • Appendix 2. Columbia Plateau Consumer SurveyQuestion - percentage response - # responses Pick three of the following that we need more of inWhere do you buy the majority of your food? this region.Grocery store 96.1% 172 Farmers markets 36.3% 65Fast food restaurant 0.6% 1 Farm stands 33.0% 59Other 3.4% 6 CSAs 6.7% 12Where else do you get the food you eat? Check all that 10.6% 19apply. Community kitchensMeals with friends or 39.7% 71 40.8% 73family U-Pick opportunities Local food in restaurants or 52.5% 94 54.2% 97Farmers market grocery stores Coops/independent grocery 46.9% 84 36.3% 65Grocery store storesFarm stand 35.8% 64 Community gardens 27.9% 50Grow or raise it myself 55.9% 100 Farm to school programs 36.9% 66Community supported 5.0% 9 6.7% 12agriculture (CSA) Food pantriesMeal site 5.6% 10 Meal sites 5.6% 10Hunt harvest 26.3% 47 Other 5.0% 9Food pantry 3.9% 7 Pick the three greatest concerns you have about the food you eat.Commodities 3.9% 7 Culturally appropriate 2.8% 5Gleaning 2.8% 5 Preparation time 27.9% 50Convenience store 17.3% 31 Grown or raised sustainably 23.5% 42Fast food restaurant 42.5% 76 Genetically modified 26.8% 48Sit-down restaurant 65.4% 117 Grown locally 45.8% 82Other 3.9% 7 Price 65.4% 117 Livable wage for farmer & 26.8% 48How much of the food you buy is fresh fruits and veggies? workersNone 0.0% 0 Pesticide free 37.4% 67Some (25%) 52.5% 94 Safety 36.9% 66Half 37.4% 67 Other 6.7% 12Most (75%) 10.1% 18 In your opinion, how serious is hunger in your community?All 0.0% 0 Its not an issue 1.7% 3How often do you buy locally grown or raised food? Minor issue 35.8% 64Never 5.6% 10 Somewhat serious issue 51.4% 92 20 57.0% 102 11.2%Sometimes Extremely seriousOften 36.3% 65 In your opinion, how serious are poor quality diets in your community?Always 1.1% 2 Its not an issue 0.0% 0If you dont buy food that is grown or raised locally, what is Minor issue 10.6% 19the main reason? Page | 77
  • Not available 54.4% 81 Somewhat serious issue 50.8% 91Too expensive 10.1% 15 Extremely serious issue 38.5% 69Dont know where to get it 15.4% 23 Do you preserve food by freezing, drying, canning or 4.0% 6Doesnt matter to me smoking it?Other 16.1% 24 No 14.5% 26In the last year, how often did you shop for the cheapest 14.0% 25food available? No, but Id like to learn howNever 11.7% 21 Yes 71.5% 128Sometimes 41.9% 75Often 37.4% 67Always 8.9% 16 How important is hunting, fishing or wild harvesting of food to meet your household food needs?Check all of the following that you or your family use on amonthly basis. Not at all 55.3% 99SNAP 11.2% 13 Somewhat 28.5% 51WIC 0.9% 1 Very 16.2% 29FDNP 0.9% 1 What would help you increase wild foods in your diet?Food pantry 6.0% 7 Ed rights& responsibility 7.8% 14Free meal site 1.7% 2 Ed opportunity/identification 30.2% 54Grocery coupons 87.9% 102 Ed cooking/preserving 20.1% 36Free- and reduced- 9.5% 11 37.4% 67price lunch program Not interested A change in policy or 6.9% 8 14.5% 26Commodities regulations Other 12.3% 22In a normal week, how many of your households meals areprepared at home?None 0.0% 0 Do you grow your own fruits & vegetables?Some (1-7) 3.4% 6 No 12.3% 22About half 14.0% 25 No, but Id like to 10.1% 18Most (14-20) 68.7% 123 Yes, a few plants 25.1% 45All 14.0% 25 Yes, a small garden 36.3% 65If most or all of the meals are NOT prepared at home,why? Yes, a large garden 12.8% 23Dont know how to cook 0.0% 0 Yes, at a community garden 1.7% 3It takes too much time 42.4% 14 1.7% 3 OtherThere is no stove or fridge 0.0% 0 In which of the following educational opportunities would you be most interested?Prefer to eat out 42.4% 14 Gardening 35.2% 63Dont plan ahead 39.4% 13 Cooking 17.9% 32 Preservation 26.3% 47 Nutrition 20.7% 37 Page | 78