Barking Moon Farm Finds That Smaller Can Be Better, Part 1

| 7/10/2015 8:58:00 AM

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.

There have been a lot of changes at Barking Moon Farm over the past seven years, but Josh Cohen is convinced – well, maybe not convinced… let’s say hopeful – that everything is finally on track and headed in a very good direction. Although that’s not to say the farm hasn’t been successful during its first seven years of operation. It’s more a matter of reshaping things and staying true to the dreams of everyone involved.

In 2006 Josh and his wife, Melissa Matthewson, bought their property in Oregon’s Josephine County. It’s a picturesque spot, sitting at 1,800 feet where the Applegate Valley begins to lift into the northern end of the Siskiyou Mountains. Josh admits it may not be the best production land in the area, but it’s beautiful, and it’s the place where their kids were born. It’s home. And it’s the place where Josh and Melissa took on the challenge of organic farming.

Josh was coming to farming from ecology and landscaping work. Melissa had just finished graduate work studying sustainable agriculture. And both had completed an internship at another Applegate Valley organic farm. In other words, they had a good idea of what they were getting into, but that didn’t make things easy.

“I think just starting with nothing and having nothing to improve was the hardest thing we faced,” Josh said. “That nothingness. Trying to go a long ways with some spit and a paper clip, basically. And also just learning this site. Even though we had interned less than fifteen miles away, it’s totally different at this elevation. A world different. It’s almost like a zone colder here than the fields we lease just six miles down the road. That’s one thing about the Siskiyous… it’s really diverse in every way possible.”

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