When did you know that you wanted to be a farmer?
Casey got the farming bug soon after we married, which was QUITE the surprise. We were young (19 & 20) and still in college. He read a book by Wendell Berry and felt so moved by it. I thought he was crazy until a few years later when I had the opportunity to work in a kitchen where we worked closely with local farmers. Visiting their farms and seeing their lifestyle (and working with their beautiful vegetables) really moved me, and see we sought an internship on an organic farm up in Bellingham, Washington. We worked there while we also pursued Master’s degrees — at the end of the experience, we decided to ditch academia and start our own farm! That’s when we moved to Mac!
What do you like best about living/working in Yamhill County?
Where to begin? We landed here almost by chance. Casey grew up in Lincoln City and swam for the Mac swim team when he was a kid, so we were somewhat familiar with the area. We knew we wanted to be close to his family, and this is just about the closest valley town with good farmland within easy driving distance of the beach (and the surf!). But, wow, what a choice that turned out to be! We found a community that welcomed us so warmly. We’ve had customers who have been with us since that first year in 2006 and really stuck with us through all the usual ups and downs of starting a business/farm. We’ve also really fallen in love with the landscape, which is different than the maritime settings we both grew up in. Our farm is on Grand Island, which is surrounded by the Willamette River. Getting to know the river itself has been a deliciously slow and loving process. We still feel like we so much natural beauty here to yet explore and experience, but we have enjoyed the place for years now. All its inhabitants — people, creatures, trees, and plants — inspire us on a daily basis!
What’s your favorite meal?
Honestly? Every meal is our favorite! We have the deep joy of eating almost exclusively from our farm’s products: all of our meat, eggs, milk, fruit and vegetables are grown and produced right here on our land (the things we buy in are basically some condiments and nuts). We use these farm ingredients to prepare what is fairly simple food for ourselves — a lot of veggie/meat stews, salads, and basic preparations — but because the food is so fresh and so nourishing, every meal is a feast for us. We give thanks each time we sit at the table for the plenty and abundance of the farm. We eat like kings. But if you want to know our current seasonal favorite food item, it has to be “squash-a-ganouj,” which is a dip that Casey invented. It’s basically traditional baba ganouj that is made with roasted zucchini instead of eggplant. We’ve been eating it almost daily alongside our other food! It’s great with cucumbers especially.
Find out more at www.oakhillorganics.org.