Land Stewardship Project (Upper Midwest)
Year long program including 36 hours of seminar time as well as farm tours, mentorship, & access to revolving livestock loan program. $1500. Expanded to IL, NE & MO.
Beginning Farmer & Rancher Opportunities
Center for Rural Affairs (Nebraska)
Includes Land Link service, financial planning services, advocating for innovative tax law, providing information about innovative production & marketing strategies, and estate planning services.
Growing New Farmers
New England Small Farm Institute (Massachusetts & Northeast)
Online directory of over 200 public, private & non-profit organizations working to support new farmers in New England, through technical assistance, access to land, access to capital & financing, and access to markets.
PEPA – Program Educativa Para Pequeños Agricultores
Agriculture and Land-based Training Association (ALBA) (Salinas, CA)
Non-profit program providing 6 month mulit-lingual classroom training in organic agriculture production and farm management. Students graduate from program onto ½ acre parcels of land to begin farming independently. ALBA provides infrastructure for lease, including walk-in cooler, tractors, irrigation, etc. for collective use.
New American Agriculture Project (NAAP)
MercyCorps NW (Portland, OR)
Non-profit providing a suite of services to immigrant farmers in Portland area, including: technical training, access to IDA accounts and loans, business planning, seeds, tools, and access to leased land.
Central Illinois Farm Beginnings
Collaborative effort between University of Illinois Extension and
the Land Connection. A one year program that relies on the Land Stewardship
Projects curriculum and materials.
Beginning Farmer Center
Iowa State University
Formed by legislative mandate in 1994 to specifically provide services to beginning farmers and to help make land links between aspiring and retiring farmers. The center:
- Coordinates education programs and services for beginning
farmer efforts statewide.
- Assesses needs of beginning farmers and retiring farmers.
- Develops, coordinates, and delivers targeted education to
beginning and retiring farm families.
- Provides programs and services that develop skills and
knowledge in financial management and planning, legal issues, tax laws,
technical production and management, leadership, sustainable agriculture,
human health, the environment, and leadership.
Washington State University Small Farms Program, University of Idaho Extension & Rural Roots
Offers educational programs to increase the number and foster the
success of sustainable small acreage farmers and ranchers in Idaho and
NY Beginning Farmer Resource Center
A project of Cornell University Cooperative
Extension and New York Farm Viability Institute, which is an independent,
farmer-led nonprofit organization that directs and funds farm-level research to
increase profits, reduce costs and other barriers, create jobs and encourage
practical innovation on the farm. The institute is funded by the New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The center provides support for beginning and diversifying farmers by offering
a farmer forum, FAQs, farm planning support/templates, and access to a network
Many thanks Zoë for providing this list of resources!
For many people cured meats and fish have become a luxury item that is deemed too difficult to do at home. For centuries though these techniques were the realm of the home cook and only in recent times have we forgotten the pleasures of preserving our own food. From meat to fish to pickled vegetables not only do these techniques extend the shelf life of items from when they are at peak season but they also impart many delicious flavors that cannot be made any other way. While not everyone may have the space to cure their own whole legs of prosciutto there are many ways to incorporate time honored preservation techniques into the home cook’s repertoire. Not only will you gain a better appreciation for amazing flavors that can be coaxed out of a few simple ingredients but you’ll be able to impress guests with dishes they thought were only attainable at a restaurant. The following recipe for a simple cured duck breast can be adjusted in a thousand different ways by changing the spices but I think it is the perfect way to showcase what simple salt and time can do for opening up the flavors in a humble piece of meat.
Simple Cured Duck Breast
1 Duck Breast, cleaned and trimmed
Kosher Salt, approximately 1 lb
2 Tbsp Allspice, ground
2 Tbsp Juniper, ground
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
1. Combine the salt (enough to cover the duck breast), allspice, juniper, and black pepper in a bowl and set aside.
2. Using a small non reactive container or metal pan lined with plastic wrap that is slightly larger than the duck breast spread approximately half of the salt mixture.
3. Place the duck breast in the pan on top of the salt. Pour the rest of the salt mixture over the duck breast to cover completely. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for approximately 24 hours.
4. After 24 hours remove the duck breast from the salt and rinse thoroughly under cold running water. Pat completely dry with paper towels.
5. At this point the duck should be a darker red and firmer but still with some give when pressed with a finger.
6. Cut a piece of cheese cloth big enough to wrap the duck breast in. Place the duck breast in the cheese cloth and wrap, tying the ends with kitchen twine.
7. Tie one end with a long piece of string and hang the duck to dry. Pick cool place with some airflow, 60 – 65 degrees is ideal to hang the duck. Near an open window works quite well for me.
8. Allow to hang and dry for approximately one week. At this point test the duck breast by pressing on in firmly with one finger. It should be firm but not hard with a little give to it. It should not feel mushy. If still a little mushy allow to hang another day or so.
9. When the duck is ready slice thinly and serve on its own or as a part of a nice fall salad. Wrap and refrigerate any leftovers.
By Andrew Gerdes
Andrew Gerdes is a New York-based chef who currently works at New York City's Calhoun School creating delicious,
healthy food from scratch for kids. He also works as a private chef.
Can you imagine Italian food without tomato sauce? Spain without gazpacho in the Summer? Or Lebanese fattoush salad without the bright red of chopped tomatoes? Tomatoes are such an integral ingredient in so many cuisines around the world, that it is hard to believe they were introduced into many of them only a few hundred years ago. Tomatoes originated in Mexico, and it was not until the 16th Century that they were taken to Europe to be planted in new soil. But even then, they were observed with caution. In England they believed tomatoes to be poisonous, and responsible for causing many kinds of ills. Many other plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae, like eggplant, were regarded in the same way. It took at least 100 years before they made their way into the culinary repertoire of the Old World.
The tomato is a cooling fruit that peaks in late Summer, when we need it most. There are four parts to a tomato: the outer skin, the fruit wall, the inner pith, and the liquid gel in the center with the seeds. The tomato’s juiciest part is by far the liquid sacs around the seeds in the middle, which is most often removed in professional kitchens in favor of the fleshy fruit wall. We cannot imagine getting rid of the pleasantly acidic juice of the tomato, one of the most cooling and refreshing flavors of Summer.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and they are excellent for maintaining healthy hearts and low blood pressure. In fact, if you cut open a tomato across its horizontal midsection you will see four chambers of seed sacs. This is a direct replica of the human heart. Food has an innate ability to tell you what it is good for, and tomatoes tell you they are good for your cardiovascular system. Their red color is a sigh of lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant that has proven strong in preventing multiple types of cancers. We also like to think that their smooth exterior also shows how soft one’s skin can be if they are eaten regularly.
Tomatoes are best eaten in the late Summer, early Fall when they are at their peak. As a culture, we have become used to having access to foods all year round, regardless of the seasons. Tomatoes should not be a dietary staple in the Winter, unless they are canned. Tomatoes shipped from abroad are picked green and treated with ethylene gas to turn red, which is obviously not the healthiest way to eat. Tomatoes are best eaten with barely any seasoning besides salt and maybe some olive oil and vinegar. They are well balanced by mild dairy products, like yogurt and mozzarella cheese, but should be avoided by people with arthritis, as they are calcium inhibitors.
Life doesn’t get much better than a cold beer after a long day. Who doesn’t enjoy a wondrous beverage that both tantalizes the taste buds AND relaxes the soul? Lucky for us, Oregon is currently undergoing an explosion of brewing innovation. With their judicious use of bold flavors and high alcohol concentrations, the brewers of this beer-soaked state have something to enliven any romantic meal, after-hours meeting, or mischievous outing. The challenge of this debaucherous revolution is not in finding a good beer but rather in choosing which one to drink! So much so that beverage selection can become an intimidating, even hectic experience for some. This article aims to equip you with some basic microbrew facts and recommendations that will help center your inner lush and prepare you for success in this deliciously overwhelming world.
First you need to know what you’re drinking. Traditional brewing uses four ingredients - water, malt, yeast and hops. Malt is a cereal grain, most often barley, that has been sprouted and roasted to maximize its cellular
sugars. During the brewing process, yeast metabolizes these sugars to produce that defining characteristic of beer that we so cherish: alcohol. Hops are added to preserve the beer and for their bitter flavor, which helps to balance the malt’s sweetness. Water, which many assume to be an inconsequential ingredient, provides crucial minerals and balances PH. Brewing success demands careful attention to the proportions and quality of these four ingredients.
The beer innovation currently flourishing in Oregon comes from altering or expanding upon the use of these four ingredients…with ambrosial results. Yet the rich array of available choices often leaves people grasping for mental traction even before they start drinking. The first time I walked into the Bier Stein (my now-favorite bar, complete with 10 taps and over 1000 beers) I felt like a plump 10 year old lost in Candyland: so…much…delicious. Where to start in such a situation?
Anything from Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) is a great first choice. Recently emerging from Portland’s unassuming yet microbrew-rich Southeast neighborhood, HUB has high ideals and a solid neighborhood following. Their excellent brews don’t aim to shock and awe with their intensity or notoriety; they embody quality. HUB sources their ingredients locally and organically, ensuring that the freshness and purity of their creations remain unmatched. They brew using 100% renewable energy and numerous other sustainability measures which, although not directly influencing the taste of their beer, put an even bigger smile on my froth-covered face. And isn’t happiness what beer drinking is all about? I recommend in particular the highly-alcoholic Hopworks IPA for its well-balanced floral bitterness and the Survival Stout for its full-bodied and earthy flavors.
Drive two hours south on the I-5 and you’ll find Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene’s premier brewery. Nestled in the fun-loving and free-wheeling Whitaker neighborhood, the hoppy bitterness of their beers is something akin to a religious experience. And well it should be, as the brewery gets its namesake from the Sumarian goddess of fermentation. Each time I sip a pint of Total Domination IPA, I can’t help but think the goddess herself would blanch at Ninkasi Brewing’s devastating use of hops. Yet, Total Domination is far and away my favorite IPA. Ninkasi uses local hops, whose surprising citrus flavor provides a delightful counterbalance to the intense bitterness. The result is a flavor whirlwind which leaves your taste buds pleasurably addicted and begging your mouth for more. Should you be so foolish as to try another, less flavorful beer anytime soon after: instant rejection, tastes like drinking sand. Hence the name: Total Domination. At 6.5% alcohol, this is no beer for a beginner and even seasoned lushes may balk at its intensity, but it is one you must try. Worst case scenario: order another beer!
Now westwards along the treacherous hwy 126 and up the scenic Oregon coast to Newport, the home of Rogue Ales. Rogue started as a small brewpub in Ashland, OR but has since been driven to the ocean by its own success. Rogue has a history of expanding on beer’s four main ingredients through a healthy use of “adjuncts”: extra ingredients such as grain, fruit or spices that are added during the brewing process to broaden a beer’s range of flavor. These flavors can be delectable in the finished brew… or they can be overwhelming. Rogue’s Chocolate Stout plows right up to but not over the limit of overwhelming; this brew creates a unique taste sensation. If you enjoy that most famous of aphrodisiacs you will certainly appreciate this beer, as the lofty sweetness of chocolate is solidly supported by an intense richness of the underlying Stout. Savor like you would a fine dessert and you will be well on your way to beer bliss.
Microbrews in Oregon have the diversity of wine in Napa: endless deviations exist within each variety. Each individual beer has its own taste, story and circumstance, and great pleasure lies in the discovery of every one. This article explores only the smallest shreds of what is available, and fails to do justice even then. The only way to know this rich world of flavor is to experience it first hand, so channel your adventurous side and pour yourself an uncharted pint. You never know when you’ll find your next great liquid love.
Erin Noble grew up in Eugene, OR and now works in the forest products industry. He loves microbrews.
This is an objective account about what people eat in Oregon with a specific focus on the Willamette Valley.
To learn how Oregonians eat, a trip to the kitchen is a good place to start.
An Oregon kitchen’s mission in life is simple: to preserve the bounty of the summer seasons throughout the long rainy months of the year. Not surprisingly, the freezer plays the central role in this plot. Zip-lock bags full of frozen berries are stacked to the top against the back wall. Ice trays double as pesto holders, while old yogurt and hummus containers house frozen garden-grown tomato sauces. Bags of frozen vegetables are sometimes bags of real vegetables.
The kitchen pantry is second in command, and serves as a playground for Oregonians to earn their culinary stars and stripes. It features trophy shelves filled with glass jars showcasing the art of jamming, canning, preserving, pickling, fermenting and dehydrating. A “decked-out” pantry may even include a second refrigerator solely dedicated to kegs of home-brewed beer. The pantry is also the crossroads where Oregonians’ enthusiasm to preserve meets an equal commitment to anything healthy. Containers of quinoa, wheat berries, nutritional yeast, and various legumes have had shelves in homes here before the rest of the country had even heard of a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (it should be pretentiously noted that Oregonians began eating healthy and locally before it became popular).
The last sign of a fully functioning Oregon kitchen is the presence of bugs. A few flies here and crawling creatures there can indicate the presence of a fresh produce box from a local C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture), and a thriving compost bucket. Oregonians take pride in their compost, and are protective of the worms it contains.
The Willamette (“Will-lamb-et”) Valley is nestled between the Cascade Mountain Range and the Pacific Ocean. The Willamette River provides broad brushstrokes of rich soil throughout the area. This combined with the region’s wet and temperate climate provide the groundwork for the abundance of local produce.
Oregon cuisine rests on the shoulders of local ingredients rather than a few hallmark dishes. And what broad shoulders these ingredients have: James Beard, an Oregon native, and arguably the father of new American cuisine said, “The raw materials in the Northwest are probably among the greatest you find in the country.” It is these raw materials which bring flocks of chefs to Portland, with the praise of national food writers nipping at their heels. Some of the central ingredients include seafood, wild mushrooms, sweet onions, hazelnuts, and berries. And this is not even taking into account what is available to drink.
Oregonians may be stereotyped as coffee drinking liberals, but it is the wine and beer which hold their attention. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are particularly well-suited in the Willamette Valley’s moderate climate and iron-rich clay. Even Burgundy winemaking tycoon Robert Drouhin has set up shop in the vicinity, realizing Oregon’s burgeoning “new world” wine potential. Cooler weather wines like Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer take root northeast on the Columbia River, while southern Oregon hosts warmer varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. On the beer front, Oregon has long been home to a myriad of microbreweries. The Willamette Hops are used around the world for beer making. Recently, there has been a reinvigorated movement in the area towards featuring beers with strong “hoppy” characteristics, notably evident in local Indian Pale Ales (IPAs).
Similar to wine and beer, Oregonians take pride in their mushrooms. There are even festivals and 5K fun runs dedicated to these fungi. The mild and rainy weather promotes a plethora of mushroom varieties; from porcinis, oysters, matsutakes, and chanterelles, to lobsters, black trumpets, morels and wildly elusive truffles. When spring showers subside, it is not uncommon for Oregonian mycologists and amateurs alike to go on truffle hunting expeditions. Wild Mushrooms are frequently used as flavoring agents in sauces, soups and oils, but can also be the featured ingredient in a pâté, ravioli, risotto or along side a protein.
The hazelnut (commonly called the filbert in Oregon) is also an incredible flavoring agent and topping. After roasting and chopping it, it can add a rich complexity to vinaigrettes or a crunch to parfaits. Also, it can be used in breads, in brittles, or served whole with rosemary. During the October harvest, Oregonians are tripping over nut shells since nearly all of the United States’ hazelnut yield comes from the Willamette Valley.
Another complementary ingredient is the sweet onion. A small area of the Columbia River basin is designated a Walla Walla sweet onion region, but there are many other varieties throughout Oregon. The sweetness comes from reduced levels of sulfur present as compared to regular boiler onions. This shortage of sulfur also causes less crying for the chopper. Now that’s sweet! In early June, sweet onions resemble a chubby leek, but as summer passes their bulbs slowly balloon outwards. Unlike most onions, they can be consumed raw. Although some people eat them whole like apples, it’s best to cut them thin for salads, onion straws, burgers, and seafood.
Oregon’s large network of rivers and lakes combined with the Pacific Ocean help create a seafood lover’s paradise. There are salmon, trout, Albacore tuna, sole, Dungeness crab, shrimp, oysters, scallops, mussels, clams, prawns, catfish, scallops, sea bass…and the list goes on. True to Northwest gastronomy, many seafood dishes utilize simple preparation techniques and are served with other seasonal produce. The prevalent use of ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, sesame and other Asian seasonings with seafood affirm the reoccurring Pacific Rim influences in the cuisine.
If there is one reason to live in the Willamette Valley, it is the berries. As spring rains wane, the strawberry signals summer like a drum major, and the raspberry, blueberry and blackberry follow, marching in step throughout the season. Locals flock to “U-Pick” signs outside cities to fill their cardboard flats. While most of the yield is frozen or canned, it nice to reserve some berries for immediate bowls of cereal, sundaes, and of course, midnight snacking. Cobblers, muffins, tarts, pies and compotes can utilize the frozen berries.
Oregonians have a particular love-hate relationship with the blackberry. The blackberry plant is extremely invasive and can quickly take over a whole lawn if left unmanaged. And yet, this prickly and unsightly plant is redeemed one month a year with berries of divine credentials. At its peak, a blackberry should be mostly sweet but still mildly tart and its globes should burst like water balloons in your mouth. While I think the Hull blackberry epitomizes these qualities, the other varieties, including the marionberry, boysenberry, loganberry and Himalayan blackberry, are not far behind.
And there’s more. Oregon boasts over 250 crops, some of which look like cousins of familiar produce while others are simply unrecognizable. If you walk through Eugene’s Saturday Market on a summer day, you may come across some garlic whistles, gold raspberries, lemon cucumbers, and margarita melons among other novel produce. Simply put, a trip to a local farmers’ market is always more an investigation than a chore.
Ross Kanaga received a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Minnesota. He lives and grew up in Eugene, Oregon.