By Erinn Criswell
Andrea and Taylor Bemis of Tumbleweed Farm sowed their first seeds in a modest parcel just over an acre and just under majestic Mt. Hood. This plot is the front yard of Patrick and Revelyn, who set their roots in the valley back in 1985. “It’s not about where you’re born that’s important…it’s about where you choose to live and call home,” explains Revelyn. The decision to nest under the protection of Mt. Hood is obvious; their view and surroundings make you forget about where you’re going or where you’ve been.
Taylor grew up on Hutchins Farm back East. His interest in growing didn’t truly transpire until adulthood when he and Andrea decided to move from Bend, Oregon back to the farm in Massachusetts. After four seasons growing with Taylor’s family on 30 acres of mixed veggies and 10 acres of orchards, the couple were ready to head west once again. Familiar and fond of the Hood River Valley, they settled and began the process of starting a farm. First step, and often the most challenging, is land acquisition: enter iFarm Oregon. A tip from a staff member of Gorge Grown Food Network introduced the young couple to iFarm. The Bemis couple arranged property viewings with three different landholders, but they canceled the last two after meeting with Revelyn and Patrick. The two families reached an agreement that involved Andrea and Taylor farming the land (just over an acre) that, up until two years prior, Patrick and Revelyn had used for animal pasture.
Patrick and Revelyn farmed their land for self sufficiency, and began growing vegetables two years ago to compliment her catering business. But with full time jobs, Revelyn and Patrick decided to let someone else farm the plot. It has been a joy to see the land farmed without having to bear the labor themselves. Revelyn located iFarm on an internet search. She completed the questionnaire and was contacted by Taylor and Andrea shortly thereafter. The Bemis’ were the first iFarm landseekers to visit the property in Mt. Hood, and a mutually beneficial arrangement was formed. “Without iFarm, we would not have had any other reason to connect with Andrea and Taylor,” Patrick stated.
Tumbleweed Farm’s first season was a bountiful success. Intending to sell solely at the Hood River and White Salmon Farmers’ Markets, the couple found themselves distributing their produce to friends and family in Portland on a weekly basis. Tumbleweed Farm fostered a partnership with a Portland-based company whose employees are more than eager to commit to 40 shares during the 2014 growing season. It is the couple’s goal to farm full-time without the need to supplement their income with outside jobs, and it appears Andrea and Taylor are well on their way to achieving this! Within just one year, Tumbleweed Farm has outgrown itself, allowing the Bemis farmers to purchase land of their own, just down the road from Revelyn and Patrick. Taylor described iFarm Oregon as, “a good stepping stone and great way to test out farming.”
Check out Tumbleweed’s Blog here.