When I first visited Gathering Together Farm’s booth last week at the Moreland Farmers Market, it was at the peak of the pre-dinner rush with a long line of shoppers clutching their sun-ripened treasures, ready to make their purchases for near-immediate consumption. It obviously wasn’t the right time to pester them with questions for this blog, so I got in line with a couple of treasures of my own, then wandered the market for a bit while waiting for the pace to slow down.
Once the dust had settled, I found the owner, John Eveland, chatting with customers while his staff tended the till. John and his wife, Sally Brewer, are veterans in the business of organic farming. John describes his role as the troubleshooter, and so no two days are alike. One day he’s driving a truck full of produce to farmers markets, another day he’s cultivating a field or tending to equipment.
Gathering Together Farm in a thoroughly ambitious operation. What started in 1987 as a little plot of certified-organic earth to supply quality veggies to their vegetarian restaurant has grown to more than 50 acres along the Mary’s River in Philomath, Oregon. These acres bring gorgeous produce to 9 farmers markets, a handful of local and regional food co-ops, over three hundred families in their CSA program, an impressive list of gourmet restaurants in Corvallis, Newport, and Portland, and their own Farm Stand restaurant in Philomath. On top of all that, they grow an extensive selection of vegetable seed through Wild Garden Seed, in partnership with Shoulder to Shoulder Farm. If you’re looking to plant exceptional locally-adapted veggies in your own garden, place your seed order there.
With all of these moving parts, Gathering Together Farm has a sizable staff of nearly a hundred individuals at the peak of the season. As they’ve expanded their scope over time, John and Sally have managed to preserve the community values of their family farm, and this is reflected in one of their long-standing traditions: the farm lunch. Three days a week, the kitchen crew or a guest chef cooks lunch for the entire farm crew, all with produce grown on the farm!
On the day I visited the market, they were offering a wide array of veggies, including onions, kale, salad greens, cabbage, summer squash, sweet corn, melons, peppers, beets, carrots, a dizzying selection of tomatoes. One of their specialties is salad mix. For a detailed and fascinating description of their salad mix production methods, see their blog.
John says Moreland Farmers Market is a great fit for them, and a mid-week neighborhood market like ours is a nice counterpoint to the more frantic weekend markets. I certainly hope they’re here to stay.
Visit their website for more information, find them on Facebook, andcheck out their farm stand/restaurant blog to find inspiration for how to cook up your purchases. Be warned, the restaurant blog may lure you down to Philomath.
Courtney Skybak – a landscape designer and owner of From the Ground Up PDX, LLC, where she blogs and teaches about growing, preparing, and sharing fantastic seasonal food. Find timely gardening tips and recipes for the season’s bounty on her blog.