Oregon's Deck Family Proves Family Farms Can Be Sustainable

| 3/6/2015 9:36:00 AM

Christine and John Deck at Deck Family Farm 

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.

As I turn off High Pass Road to the Deck Family Farm there’s a gate across the driveway. Cattle nose through fencing on either side, perhaps wondering what to make of this latest visitor. Unfastening the chain reminds me of the many pasture gates I opened growing up, and when I close it, like when I was a kid I try to chain it in a way that makes it easy to open next time.

The place looks like a working farm. A cluster of buildings on a bit of high ground. A mix of livestock braving the drizzling rain. Occasional water-filled potholes in the long, winding driveway. A dog standing beneath a shade tree barking at my car’s approach. The line-up of work boots sitting on the porch beside the front door.

Based on the research I’d done, I wasn’t surprised by anything I saw. But curiously, what did surprise me was the compelling nature of the conversation I encountered inside the house. Not that I was expecting it to be otherwise, but John and Christine Deck are genuinely intelligent people who, in a very comfortable and engaging way, shared some profound insights into our country’s broken food system, why they believe a new farm movement is underway, and the part they’re trying to play in all of that.

“I think people realize that the train we’re on is going to crash,” said Christine. “We live in an economy with externalized environmental and humanitarian costs. Finally, that discussion has moved outside the realm of economists and more and more people are understanding that we have to internalize those costs because we don’t live in a world with unlimited resources. We can no longer base our economy on the belief that there’s always going to be more… that there’s always going to be growth. Sustainability depends more on not growing.

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