Article by Amber Due, Outreach and Communications Intern, McKenzie River Trust
Adam and Kelly of Willow & Oak Farm and Barn Swallow Blossoms are currently in their first growing season at McKenzie River Trust’s Berggren Watershed Conservation Area, a property protected by MRT in 2010. This partnership between McKenzie River Trust and local farmers represents a unique cross-over between conservation efforts and sustainable agriculture. Adam and Kelly have two decades of farming experience under their belts and are focused on food sovereignty, community development, and environmental sustainability as central themes in their work. Right now they are focused on growing organic flowers for the Lane County Farmers Market and their Flower CSA program, as well as raising free-range chickens for eggs and meat. In the future, they plan to raise sheep for meat.
Just like McKenzie River Trust, Adam and Kelly are passionate about stewarding healthy relationships with land and wildlife. They commit to improving the soil on the land they steward and protecting the surrounding natural areas through holistic and biodynamic agricultural practices.
Because this property is located along the banks of the McKenzie River, a pesticide-free farm is necessary for managing this acreage. When the rain hit record highs this year, Kelly and Adam became aware of what a huge impact their responsible farming practices can make. Kelly notes, “especially during this very wet year, I’ve become very aware of how water flows on this property…and given how much water is going through our farmland and down to the McKenzie, it is important that we are stewarding the land using methods that protect all the flora and fauna that are a part of the ecosystem here, and a part of the river.”
Due to the increasing prices of farmland, first-generation farmers often have difficulty acquiring land to start their farms. Affordable land access is one of the greatest barriers for the next generation of farmers. McKenzie River Trust helps young farmers such as Adam and Kelly incubate their businesses by providing affordable land and affordable housing. In exchange, leaseholders must agree to McKenzie River Trust and Bonneville Power Administration easement agreements, protecting and enhancing the 90-acre property through community conservation values.
Before Adam and Kelly learned about this opportunity, the possibility of starting their own farm was such a far-fetched idea that they hadn’t seriously considered attempting it. Instead, they focused on helping to manage other people’s farming projects while maintaining personal projects on the side. There had never been a clear path toward farm ownership until McKenzie River Trust made it possible to jumpstart their careers and expand their flower business known as Barn Swallow Blossoms.
Around thirty acres of the property are zoned as agricultural, and the other sixty acres are allocated towards conservation. Even though they’ve only been on the property for a year, Adam and Kelly can already see the effects of McKenzie River Trust’s conservation efforts. Down on the McKenzie River, they see beavers building dams, and a variety of birds flying overhead or landing in the fields. A family of coyotes lives on the corner of the property, and cougars are often spotted in the neighborhood.
Although some farmers might see this increase in wildlife as a threat, coexisting with the natural world is an important part of Adam and Kelly’s stewardship practices. “We value and cherish all the wildlife on the property, and farm in a way where all life is being respected in the process”, says Adam.
Learn More about Willow & Oak Farm and Barn Swallow Blossoms
Lane County Farmers Market
Spring & Summer Bouquet CSAs
DIY buckets & “A La Carte” designs for weddings & events
Local florists & grocery stores
Eggs and meat will be available through
Direct-to-consumer sales & CSA
Lane County Farmers Market
Local grocery stores, food distribution hubs & restaurants