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Persephone Farm
Contact: Elanor O'Brien amd Jeff Falen
Address: 30291 Bates Lane Lebanon, OR,
Email Address: theo.ciszewski@gmail.com
About Us
Persephone Farm is situated in Oregon's Willamette Valley where the foothills begin to rise into the Cascade Mountains. The property encompasses 55 acres of river-bottom land bordered by the South Santiam River. Certified organic by Oregon Tilth since 1985, and certified Salmon-Safe, we grow over 40 vegetable crops for farmers markets, restaurants, and wholesale. The farm hosts up to 250 laying hens. We strive to produce the highest quality, most flavorful foods, based on the belief that healthy soil creates healthy plants, which sustain healthy people.
Persephone Farm was founded by Elanor O'Brien and Jeff Falen. We are first generation farmers who fled city and academia to get our hands dirty and seek an alternate way of being on the planet. We learned to farm by trial and error (mostly error) and through the generosity of other farmers willing to share their experiences.
Erin Proctor and Theo Ciszewski have recently joined the farm's management team and are doing a lot of growing while Jeff and Elanor step back from full time farming. Theo attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, where he worked at the college garden and later started his own CSA, Nothing's Simple Farm. Theo came to Persephone Farm in early 2017 and has leapt into farm management with verve and style. Erin is a native of Washington State with education and experience in viticulture and enology. She and Theo met while tending to grapevines and fermentations at a winery where she worked for several seasons. Erin arrived at Persephone in early 2018 and has embraced the work of raising fine fresh vegetables for Oregonians who love good food.
Practices
Seasonal Farming
We grow and market only those crops which are adapted to our land and climate. A commitment to sustainability led us away from plastic mulch and season-extending hoophouses because the plastic is derived from nonrenewable petroleum and cannot be recycled to its original form.
Cover crops, such as rye, vetch, clover, and sudangrass are grown on ground that is out of production. When these crops are turned back into the soil they provide food for earthworms and micro-organisms that work diligently to maintain soil health. We forego the use of synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in order to protect the soil life, as well as our customers. No one family of crops is grown in the same ground year after year, helping to protect our vegetables from diseases and pests. Every field is taken out of food production at least once every four years to let it rest and regenerate. Several decades of organic soil building have reduced our need to purchase fertilizer, stabilized soil pH, improved soil tilth, increased cold tolerance in our crops, and improved the storability and flavors of our produce. The life of the soil is reflected in the vibrancy of the plants it supports.
Hedgerows of native flowering plants like currant, snowberry, elderberry, Oregon grape, spirea, cluster rose, and serviceberry fill some field borders, and we plan to plant more hedgerows in the future. We plant alyssum, calendula, sunflowers, marigolds, hyssop, and flowering fennel in crop fields to feed insect predators, such as lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, and parasitic wasps.
Persephone Farm is striving to break free of the common belief that we can and should live well while letting the future take care of itself. Over 80% of our electrical demand is met by on-farm solar energy production. One of our cultivating tractors has been converted from gas to electric, allowing it to be recharged from our solar panels. Our worker kitchen and bathroom are supplied with solar hot water. Waste products such as oil, oil filters, anti-freeze, metal, glass, wood, and more are recycled. Efficiency considerations guide many of our purchasing decisions, especially with respect to lighting, vehicles, and electric motors. A fleet of bicycles provides on-farm transportation for our workers.