When to plant tomatoes?

Here is  Commonwealth Garden Shoppe‘s latest blog submitted by “Granny Organic”.

Common questions when the weather is nice in March: 

“When should I plant my tomatoes?”  “Do you have tomato plants?”
It shocked Granny Organic to hear that the plants are available in a local “Big Box” store. 
IF you have a greenhouse – go for it. Be prepared to pot them up into larger containers.
“Why can’t I just grow them in the house?”  Well, if you have grow lights you can.  Without adequate light they will become very tall, pale & spindly.

So, When? – May 1 to June 1 are the dates in our community for putting tomato plants outside.  Yes, it depends on your location.  If it is too cool they will either die from frost or just plain not grow.

Do we have plants yet? – NO.  We will have 6 packs & 4″ available around April 1.  Hmmm that’s April Fools day.  Tomato plants will need to stay in a greenhouse until May 1 at the earliest.So, don’t be foolish.  Let Bruce babysit your plants until the weather is warmer.
Watch the blog for a list of our tomato varieties which are lovingly grown by Bruce using organic fertilizers & soil.

Happy Gardening from Granny Organic


Farm Market Promotion Program

FMPPThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded NeighborWorks Umpqua a two-year grant to promote five farm markets in Douglas County.  These include Canyonville, Lookingglass, Old Town, Sutherlin and Umpqua Valley Farmers Markets.

Our goal is to create a thriving network of Farmers’ Markets in the Umpqua Valley that provide an abundance of fresh local foods to consumers and businesses while supporting our local agricultural industry. Goals will be accomplished through technical assistance, coordinated marketing/branding strategies and integrating community resources. Besides uniting the 5 markets, the main goal of the program is to increase public awareness of the offerings of the farmers markets. Through an intensive branding/marketing campaign, consumers will become aware of what produce is available, when and where they can access it and be educated as to the many health and economic benefits of buying local produce.

Click the link to read the press release.

 Click on this link to view our upcoming workshops: FMPP Spring Workshops.

Umpqua Valley Food Day a Success!

Thank you all for coming to the potluck and seed swap last night. We had about 50 folks come out to eat good food and learn about seed saving!

Highlights of the night included:

  •  a seed swap table FULL of seeds from Lighthouse Retreat Center, Liberty Seed Company and backyard gardeners.
  •  a potluck table FULL of delicious Douglas-Grown food including kale salad, carrots, pickled asparagus, apple pear berry pie and more.
  • announcement from Tammera Karr that the Douglas County Commissioners are the first in the country to proclaim a county-wide Food Day!

Thank you to those that attended and shared all of the exciting work you’re doing for food systems, helping Douglas County become a happier, healthier place! If you would like to have your project or perspective included in the Community Food Assessment being conducted, you can contact Laura at the information below. She’d love to talk with you! All it takes to be included is a bit of time to sit down and chat.

Thanks for all of the great things you do and all of the delicious food you make! See more pictures by clicking here.

Laura Stroud

Douglas County Food Assessor

Think Local Umpqua and NeighborWorks Umpqua

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments AmeriCorps member


cell: (514) 643-3931

National Food Day – Oct 24

Food Day.org Celebrate national food day with Think Local Umpqua on Oct 24th! We will host a potluck and seed swap at the Lookingglass Grange at 7426 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg OR.

Come celebrate the abundance of Douglas County! Learn how to save, store and start seeds, enjoy a home cooked meal, and hear from local farmers, producers and processors about when and where to buy local foods. Bring a covered dish and seeds to share!

Download the flyer.

To RSVP visit FoodDay.org or call Laura at 541.673.3931

Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012

Every five years, Congress passes a bundle of legislation, commonly called the “Farm Bill” that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, and expires in 2012.

The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240) represents the most significant reforms in agricultural policy in decades. The bill ends direct payments, streamlines and consolidates programs, and reduces the deficit by $23 billion. It also strengthens top priorities that help farmers, ranchers, and small business owners continue to grow our economy.

Click here for a recap of the major issues from the Oregon Food Bank.

Umpqua Food & Wine

Enjoy the foods of your local producers. Click on the map to find a producer near you!

Umpqua Food & Wine

Locavore brew: Tapping into beer’s agricultural roots

By Brie Mazurek

A version of this piece originally appeared in the CUESA Newsletter.

All photos by Almanac Beer Co.

Wendell Berry has said that eating is an agricultural act, but what about drinking beer? A thirst for fermented beverages may have inspired the world’s first farmers to plant crops some 13,000 years ago, yet today beer is rarely part of the larger conversation about where our food comes from.

In California, a handful of local craft brewers are starting to tap into that primitive connection. Taking up the motto “Beer is agriculture,” Almanac Beer Co. works directly with farmers in the greater Bay Area to source specialty ingredients for their seasonal brews. “For most people, beer is what shows up in the bottle or can,” says Almanac brewer Damian Fagan. “We’re trying to create a foundation that beer is rooted deeply in agriculture.”

Fagan founded Almanac with Beer & Nosh blogger Jesse Friedman last year, after they met in a home-brewing club, where they traded brewing experiments. (“I’d show up with a fig beer or a puréed turnip beer. Not always great ideas,” Fagan admits.) The two instantly bonded over their interest in San Francisco’s farm-to-table food culture. “We saw a real opening to think and talk about the brewing process using that same vocabulary and ideology,” says Friedman.

From the farm to the barrel

While the term terroir is usually reserved for fine wines, Almanac has found creative ways to “infuse a sense of time and place in each brew,” as Friedman says, by integrating fresh produce into the mash.

Since last summer, Almanac has collaborated with Sebastopol Berry Farm, Twin Girls Farm, Hamada Farms, Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, and most recently, Heirloom Organic Gardens. For each of their beers, made in small batches and released seasonally, Friedman and Fagan meet with the farmer, tour their farm, and feature it prominently on the bottle’s label and Almanac’s website.

Almanac’s Jessie Friedman adds late fall plums to a batch of beer.

Like the Farmer’s Almanac, each brew serves as a record of the season. The Autumn Farmhouse Pale Ale celebrated the last of the area’s fall plums, while the Winter Wit preserved the end of December with a mix of Cara cara, navel, and new blood oranges. “If we’d brewed two weeks earlier or later, the mix of oranges would have been different,” Friedman notes.

Their most recent release, Bière de Mars (March beer), is a French-style farmhouse ale highlighting baby fennel. While fennel might sound like an unexpected choice for beer, Heirloom Organic Gardens farmer Grant Brians thought it made a lot of sense when Almanac approached him. “The flavors in fennel are carried in an oil and slightly alkaline base,” he explains. “It’s perfect to mix into the brewing process.”

The goal with each brew is to provide a distinct but subtle accent that does not dominate the flavor profile, but adds depth and pairs well with seasonal dishes. “We want the ingredient to be an integrated part of the beer,” Friedman insists. “It should not be a fennel cocktail.”

How’s the finished result? “It’s good!” says Brians. “I’m generally a wine drinker, but I enjoy full-bodied and well-balanced flavors in beers. And it was nice to taste the end result of our collaboration.”

Bottlenecks for local brewers

While Almanac has sourced some local grains for their brews, including wheat from Massa Organics, brewing a truly local beer is fraught with challenges when it comes to hops and barley malt. “Unfortunately, the beer world is defined by the big American brewers,” says Friedman.

California was once home to a thriving hops industry, but by the 1950s, the mechanization of hops harvesting, outbreaks of downy mildew, and changing beer tastes wiped hops growers out. Today, the majority of U.S. hops are grown in Washington and Oregon.

Sourcing specialty malt poses another obstacle, since there are no malt houses in California, and out-of-state industrial malting facilities prefer to work with large brewers. “You can grow high-quality barley here, but the issue is malting,” says Ron Silberstein of Thirsty Bear Brewing Company. “Part of the problem is that local growers are competing with commodity growers who can grow and malt their barley very inexpensively.” Organic malt from locally grown barley is even rarer.

San Francisco’s first and only brewery to carry a seal from organic certifier California Certified Organic Farmers, Thirsty Bear experimented with brewing a 100 percent local and organic beer in 2010, collaborating with nearby Eatwell Farm and Hops-Meister, a hops farm. Since there are no local malt houses, Eatwell had to ship its barley to Colorado Malt Company, which hand-malts in small batches.

In launching the Locavore Ale, Silberstein had hoped to enlist more local craft brewers to commit to purchasing organic malting barley from Eatwell Farm, but the buy-in wasn’t there, and the farm has since abandoned the project.

“You have to get enough brewers who want to tell a story, who want to have an heirloom varietal of the barley, and who are willing to pay a premium for that,” Silberstein says. He is hoping to build momentum to start a small artisan malting facility, which would make local, small-batch malting more feasible.

While the process of reconnecting local brewers and beer drinkers with local farms still has a long way to go, Silberstein and Friedman are optimistic that the farm-to-bottle movement is growing. “We need to build larger systems to support local brewing, and that’s a challenge we’re excited to tackle,” says Friedman. “In the meantime, we’ve contented ourselves with highlighting specialty ingredients from local farms.”


Brie Mazurek is the Online Education Manager at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), which operates the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. She is also a consultant for Nourish, a nonprofit educational initiative designed to engage people in the story of our food.

Market Vendor Potluck – April 26

Do you grow a garden or make a product and would like to find out about selling at your local Farmers Market?
Are you a consumer who wants to find out about a Farmer’s Market in your area?

You are invited to come to an informational potluck at the Lookingglass Grange on April 26, 2012

Come and meet market managers and fellow vendors from Canyonville Farmer’s Market, Lookingglass Farm Market, Old Town Farmer’s Market and Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market and find out what’s happening for the 2012 season.  This will be fun event where Vendors, Market Managers, and Market goers can mingle and discuss the ins-and-outs of participation at your local Farmer’s Market. 
The potluck is a nice way for everyone to get together all at once in order to strengthen community and to support our ever-growing local food system

This is a potluck event, so please bring something to share.

Potluck event
Date: April 26, 2012
Place: Lookingglass Grange, 7426 Lookingglass Road, Roseburg
Time: 6-8:00p.m.
email: societyofumpqua@gmail.com
contact person: Karry Johnson  541-492-1473
donation: $1.00 (cover cost of the grange)

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on.

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer. In brief…

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Source: www.localharvest.com

Click here for a list of CSA’s in Douglas County to start a beautiful farm to table relationship!

What is “local” when it comes to produce?

Major grocery chains make their own definitions

Walmart recently announced a pledge to double the amount of produce it purchases from local growers by 2015, with the three-pronged goal of saving on fuel costs, reducing spoilage and catering to a growing consumer appetite for local produce.

But while Walmart defines “local” as grown and sold in the same state, your grocery store might have a different definition for the term.

The Wall Street Journal’s recently provided definitions of “local” produce at three major national grocery chains:

Safeway (including Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Von’s, Randall’s and others): Produce isn’t “local” if it requires more than an eight hours on the road to reach the store.

Kroger (including Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Fry’s and others): Doesn’t put a strict definition on the term, saying it “can refer to produce grown in the same state or within the same region of the country.”

Supervalu (including most Albertsons stores, Acme, Shaw’s Jewel-Osco and others): Though Supervalu tells the Journal that it buys between 25-40% of its produce locally, “local” can mean something different at each of the company’s subsidiary brands.

Whole Food’s website states: “Local produce is by definition seasonal.  While only products that have traveled less than a day (7 or fewer hours by car or truck) can even be considered for “local” designation, most stores have established even shorter maximum distances. Ask a your local grocer their definition of “local.

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