From Organics to Fermented Food, Whistling Duck Farm Is a Southern Oregon Pioneer: Part 2


Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement spotlights 18 Oregon farms and farm supporters who are committed to a return to ecologically sound agricultural practices. This group reflects the diversity of people, both young and old, who are reshaping our state’s food system and reclaiming our right to eat well. In their stories you will hear how they came to be where they are, learn something about the challenges they face, and share their happiness at the successes they’ve enjoyed thus far. The following profile has been excerpted from Planting A Future.

Read Whistling Duck Farm, Part 1

Whistling Duck farm store interior

Another year-round endeavor for Mary and Vince Alionis is their farm store. They currently maintain a self-serve farm store in a small building beside the highway, but a new and much larger one is being constructed inside an adjacent barn. Plus, they’ve recently launched a new fermented foods business. (Editor's note: Whistling Duck's new farm store is up and running and pictured in this post.)

“Now we make kraut,” said Mary, “so that’s another winter gig with a lot of winter cropping. It’s also an important part of our long-term plan. We took over a kraut business about two years ago from a friend named Kirsten Shockey. She wanted to get out of the business of making and retailing fermented foods and concentrate on writing and teaching about fermentation. And her new book, Fermented Vegetables, is great by the way. And this has turned out very well for us because it doesn’t get any easier to start a kraut business than to have an expert give you theirs. How can you turn that down?”

Taking on a new operation this time intensive did mean that Mary put on one more hat when she already was probably wearing too many hats. But both Mary and Vince are very upbeat about the potential this undertaking represents. And it definitely improves their conversion ratio.

“A couple months ago I had several hundred pounds of radishes that all came out at once because someone had seeded too many,” said Mary. “But I realized I could ferment them, so we made about twenty-five or thirty gallons of fermented radishes of various kinds. And they’re incredible… just so good. And that’s something we wouldn’t have had a market for and would have tilled in. Now we’re turning it into value added products that will sell.”

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