Oregon's Deck Family Proving Family Farms Can Be Sustainable, Part 2

| 3/13/2015 11:12:00 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.

Don't miss part 1 of this profile, Oregon's Deck Family Proves Family Farms Can Be Sustainable.

Barn at Deck Family Farm

A key to farming success is figuring out both what you can produce and what you can sell. One relies upon and informs the other. How you respond to either question has a significant effect on the farm’s financial stability. Naturally, so does the cost of labor.

John Deck points out that the family model can have a significant impact on this expense. “How many people you have living in the house and working on the farm makes a significant difference,” said John. “In our society’s prevailing paradigm, we’re all encouraged to leave home. Everyone goes out and finds their own place to live, gets their own washer and dryer, becomes an independent consumer. But if people would choose to not try to develop individually focused investment paths, and instead work to build equity in a particular farm, the financial model changes and provides a significant boost to that small family farm.

“We have two kids living in town, paying rent, and attending school. What happens if they come back to the farm, live and work here, and their work is at least partially paid by the equity investment of the farm itself? That would really help out our equation on multiple levels, but especially in the fact that we’re not having to hire other folks and pay workmen’s comp, payroll taxes, insurance and all the other stuff you don’t have to pay your kids. That may seem sad or a bit unfair to your children, but if it’s treated as an equity investment, then that helps make it a positive for everyone.”

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