Spanning the State: Support your local farmer Edition

Carla Axtman

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of farming and farmers. I'm especially enamored of the community-supported agriculture (or CSA) model. For those unfamiliar, CSAs are a locally-based way of farming and distribution. A CSA can also refer to a network/association of people who have pledged to support one or more local farms giving growers and consumers the shared risks and benefits of the farm. CSA members generally pay a set amount at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. At harvest time, they get weekly shares of fruits, veggies or whatever is fresh in-season at the farm.

There are a good number of CSA farms in the Portland metro area.. Some of the ones in Washington County feed people well east of 82nd in Portland (they deliver). But there are CSAs all over Oregon, too. The local food delivered by these farms is amazing. You'll love it.

Now, farmers in the midwest who have traditionally grown bulk corn are starting to see the CSA light. Among several new ways to get local food to market, farmers are learning how to take advantage of local distribution markets and yield a lot more money per acre for their crops:

While an acre of corn is projected to net average farmers $284 this year after expenses, and just $34 if they rent the land, as is common, an apple orchard on that same acre will make $2,000 or more, according to crop analysts. A sophisticated vegetable operation using the popular plastic covers called high tunnels, which increase yields and extend the growing season, can push that figure as high as $100,000.

Something to "chew on", eh?

And now, let's Span the State!

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Customers with Wasco County Public Utility District (PUD) have been the targets of an apparent phone scam. Customers have reported that they have received calls claiming that their power service will be shut off unless they pay an amount either by wiring the money from Walmart/Rite-Aid or by paying by credit card. One customer was allegedly told that they needed to pay a $350 deposit because their meter was using too much energy and could cause a fire. No information on suspects has yet been released.

Biologist Michael Skinner grew up on the Umatilla Reservation near Pendleton, Oregon. As a developmental biologist as Washington State University, Skinner and a research fellow have made a discovery that could cause a fundamental shift in a bedrock modern biological principle, with Skinner becoming the forerunner of a new way of thinking about the possible long-term health consequences of exposure to environmental chemicals. In a nutshell, Skinner discovered that while exposure to these chemicals doesn't necessarily impact rats directly, it deeply impacted their GRANDCHILDREN. Over and over, Skinner was able to show that health problems showed up in the fourth- and fifth-generation offspring of mothers exposed to a chemical. Skinner's findings have deeply pissed off a lot of the chemical industry and he'll likely have to draw on all that grit he gained growing up in Eastern Oregon to withstand the heat that could rain down on him if his findings hold up in the long run.

In 2011, the Western Gray Wolf was delisted from the Endangered Species Act in Idaho, Montana and parts of Oregon, Washington and Utah. In August 2012, the delisting happened for Wyoming. Last year's wolf hunting season saw 550 wolves killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming alone. Now, an independent review has found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t use the best available science when it proposed dropping protection for gray wolves.

Business leaders and economic development officials in the Medford area are complaining that the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc (SOREDI) isn't effective and has been largely abandoned by elected officials. The organization has run on a shoestring budget. Counties and other jurisdictions haven't funded it at the level of other, similar groups in Oregon, says SOREDI Executive Director Ron Fox. Note what's been happening at the city level. In the current year, Bend contributed $90,000 to it's economic development organization (EDCO), while Medford's contribution to SOREDI was $26,750. Both cities are close to 75,000 in population. Redmond, with a population of about 26,000, gave $100,000 to EDCO. Ashland, with a population just over 20,000, gave $2,700 to SOREDI. Jackson County is one of the Oregon counties that has been receiving county timber payments from the federal government to compensate for lost timber revenue on federal lands. Given the push to continually renew those payments, will any of that money go to economic diversity and development so that they can be weaned off?

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