When envisioning Naked Acres Farm, one might imagine empty fields or uniform row crops. This farm is nothing of the sort. It is a wonderful specimen of diversity, a bouquet of heritage animals and heirloom vegetables, a lovely juxtaposition of the plant and animal kingdoms. Seeing as how the farm is so full of life and colors and characters, my guess is the adornment missing from this naked farm scene is a veil of synthetic chemicals and confinement infrastructure for their animals.
Naked Acres Farm is the result of dedication, long days, and tenacity. Farmers Gus and Margo manage the 3 ½ acres every day while juggling two farmers markets and off-farm jobs. Having an off-farm income is critical for many, if not most, beginning farmers. The high cost of land and water, particularly urban land and water, equipment and amendment costs, and the inherent risk of working at the whim of Mother Nature makes farming a high investment, low return sort of profession. Naked Acres accounts for this precarious formula by growing the farm incrementally as to avoid debt, even if it means the physical growth is slower than their reveries.
FoFF’s Urban Outreach program recently teamed up with IRCO (Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization) to organize a farm tour for parents enrolled in the Seed to Supper programs at Gilbert Park and Lent Elementary. Most of the folks who attended the field trip had never experienced a commercial farm setting nor met a farmer producing food in their own community.
Naturally, the tour kicked off with the most amusing feature, the animals. Gus described the process of raising animals humanely and why they concede extra labor and additional space in order to ensure their animals receive the highest welfare possible. It shows. The chickens, hogs, goats, sheep, and even a llama all exhibit their natural behaviors, outside in fresh air, with plenty of space to scratch and jump and root around for hidden treasures in the dirt. Due to their commitment to humane and ecologically responsible animal husbandry, Naked Acres Farm serves on the advisory board of Friends of Family Farmers’ Oregon Pasture Network.
Livestock animals are not the only creatures tended to on the farm. Beneficial insects, the kinds that feed on pests like aphids and mites and pollinate crops, are catered to with hedgerows, spray-free management practices, and forage abundance. Their vegetable production is an arduous one because, like everything else on the farm, Gus and Margo opt to take time to hand-weed rather than using herbicides. Thanks to the additional time, labor, and love they devote to the land, farm visitors are free to touch and taste with ease and enjoyment.
Naked Acres hosts an open farm a couple of times per year. If you are itching to witness hilarious goats and happy hogs, email Gus to receive notifications.