From Organics to Fermented Food, Whistling Duck Farm Is a Southern Oregon Pioneer, Part 1


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.

Mary and Vince Alionis

Mary and Vince Alionis have been working together at digging in the dirt since the day they first met, which happened when they were working on a community garden project for the Green Party down in Dallas, Texas. I don’t know what happened with that community garden, but the relationship Vince and Mary shared blossomed, and they began to look for a place to begin putting down roots.

After Dallas, they moved to California to help intensive gardening guru John Jeavons with a building project. Unfortunately, the funding for that project fell apart, so they began to look around for other opportunities. According to Vince, they met a lot of interesting people in California, but it just didn’t feel like the right place for them, so they looked north and liked what they found in Oregon. More specifically, they liked the remote and rugged feel of southern Oregon along the Rogue River. So in 1991 they made the move to a nine acre plot in Shady Cove, Oregon, a doorway to Crater Lake country.

“We landed on nine acres of an old walnut orchard with a farm house and two wells, and that’s where we got started,” said Vince. “We immediately got a rototiller and worked up a little three-quarter acre spot and started doing any growers markets we could find. We gave ourselves two years to figure out what we were going to do longer term.”

Two years later they were living and farming on forty acres farther up into the mountains on Elk Creek. “Cold country” is what Mary called it. They loved the ten years they spent there building their farm business. “That was a beautiful place,” continued Vince, “a creek, a spring… a lions and bears kind of place, you know. Not necessarily a good production space, but an awesome homestead space.”

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