MORE THAN FARMING: Young Farmers and the New Food Movement


There's a growing movement throughout this country to return to a sustainable way of farming, a holistic way of cultivating the soil, a conscious way of eating, and a more enlightened way of looking at our relationship with food. And within that movement, incredibly inspiring work is being carried out by young farmers. These highly-motivated, intelligent, idealistic, and sometimes unconventional folks are both carrying the torch passed on by their predecessors, and blazing a new sustainable trail into the future. And their numbers are growing every day. In fact, our home here in Southern Oregon is especially blessed with a multitude of industrious and inspiring young farmers. Leading the way are Josh Cohen and Melissa Matthewson of Barking Moon Farm, a certified organic farm located in the Thompson Creek watershed of the Applegate Valley.

Since 2006 Josh and Melissa have been growing certified organic vegetables and producing certified organic eggs on their property in the Applegate. They run a Community Supported Agriculture program and sell their produce and eggs through the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative, at two Ashland Farmers Markets (Tuesday and Saturday), and at local grocery stores and restaurants. But leaving their ability to grow amazing produce aside, the most impressive thing about them is the work they do to expand and strengthen the sustainable farming community in our region.

MD: As young farmers yourselves, how do you view the future of small-scale sustainable farming in the Rogue Valley and throughout the country?

Josh and Melissa: I think it is the career choice of the future. Of now. Right now. It isn't easy work and can be very grueling both physically and mentally, and it isn't easy to start a farm business in terms of economics either. But I think the reason there are so many amazing, persistent and passionate young people wanting to farm out there is because it is intellectually stimulating work and meaningful. I think more and more people are getting interested in where their food comes from and there is nothing more that this country needs than more healthy, young, able farmers to feed them.

MD: I am so impressed with the work you are doing off the farm with the League of Women Farmers and with Rogue Farm Corps. Can you tell us about what you do when you’re not growing or selling vegetables?

Melissa: Well, as an OSU Extension Agent off the farm, I'm continually working with new farmers. We coordinate a League of Women Farmers that meets often to network, learn and exchange information with each other. Most recently this summer, the OSU Extension was given a grant by the Organic Farming Research Foundation to host four field days for women farmers on the challenges and issues on Organic Certification in this region. We will also be training women farmers on carpentry this year, and hopefully we will do welding and tractor training next year. We have over 75 women farmers, both new and established, that participate in the group.

We also hold an 8-week business planning course called Growing Farms in which we help new farmers develop a plan for their farm. And if we can secure the funding, we will be launching a farmer incubator program in partnership with THRIVE and the Friends of Family Farmers, in which new farmers go through our Growing Farms course and then get set up on OSU Extension land to start their new farming enterprises.

Josh and Melissa: At Barking Moon Farm, we host two interns that live and work with us each season, from March through October. They learn all aspects of running a farm: soil, field prep, greenhouse, planting, harvesting, marketing, as well as all the business skills associated with running a farm such as insurance, bookkeeping, etc. We provide the interns with housing, food, a stipend, and lots of other perks.

We also are a part of Rogue Farm Corps, an internship and education program in the valley with about 10 participating farms. We teach parts of the Rogue Farm Corps curriculum, this year focusing on the intricacies of pastured poultry and Community Supported Agriculture. Our hope is that the interns will take all the skills they learn on our farm and begin new farms of their own in the future, or take those skills and apply in them in other managerial farm situations. While training and working with interns for 8 months of the year takes a lot of effort, we actually love this part of our farm and really develop close relationships with our interns. We are passionate about teaching and providing new skills to potential young farmers.

MD: Wow! What is it that drives you both to do what you do, every day?

Melissa: We love the work of farming. It definitely isn't the money that drives us to farm. It really is the good work that we are doing, the meaning of it all, and the belief that we are making an impact on our community. It is pretty darn addicting as well. I just can't stop talking about it.

Full interview will be available on

Views: 11

Comments are closed for this blog post

Spotlight Features

Eco News

Sponsored: 64% off Code Black Drone with HD Camera

Our #1 Best-Selling Drone--Meet the Dark Night of the Sky!

No Longer a Conspiracy Theory: CIA Director Admits Plans of Aerosol Spraying for Geoengineering | The Free Thought Project

Another example is the array of technologies—often referred to collectively as geoengineering—that potentially could help reverse the warming effects of global climate change. One that has gained my personal attention is stratospheric aerosol injection, or SAI, a method of seeding the stratosphere with particles that can help reflect the sun’s heat, in much the same way that volcanic eruptions do.

Treasure Trove of Documents Released Showing DuPont Knowingly Poisoned Entire Communities’ Drinking Water | Trofire

For the last few weeks, America’s Lawyer and Ring of Fire host Mike Papantonio has been in court facing off against DuPont. This is the second major DuPont trial that Pap has tried in the last 9 months over the company’s decision to pollute and poison an entire community with a chemical used in the manufacturing of Teflon. That chemical is known as C8, and it is a highly toxic chemical that causes severe adverse effects in people who are exposed to it, and the exposure continues for years since the chemical is biopersistent, meaning that it doesn’t get flushed out of the body.

Norway rewards Brazil with $1 billion for keeping the Amazon full of trees | Quartz

Brazil has more than risen to the task. By enforcing strict protection laws, promoting education efforts, and withholding loans to local counties that clear too much of the forest, the country has scaled back its forest destruction rate by 75%. It’s estimated that Brazilian farmers and ranchers have saved more than 33,000 square miles (roughly 53,100 square kilometers) of forest—equivalent to 14.3 million soccer fields—from being cut down.

Norway becomes first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation | Europe | News | The Independent

Norway has become the first country in the world to commit to zero deforestation.The Norwegian parliament pledged the government’s public procurement policy will become deforestation-free after a committee of MPs recommended imposing regulations to ensure the state did "not contribute to deforestation of the rainforest". Norway funds forest conservation projects worldwide and also supports human rights programmes for forest communities.

Featured Partners

Latest Activity

Jane Sterling posted events
Oct 12
Jane Sterling's event was featured

Unity in Ashland welcomes Suzanne Mathis McQueen at Havarah

October 16, 2016 from 10:30am to 12pm
The Healer Within:4 easy ways to access inner peace during these last few weeks of the political campaign with Suzanne Mathis McQueenAs we head toward Election Day, uncertainty is triggering high stress in most of us. Connecting with the natural…See More
Oct 12
Profile IconKarin Lacy, Robyn Arrington, Ella George and 2 more joined Ashland Source Center
Oct 12
Ruth Wire posted an event

"Chess" at Ashland Community Center and Bellview Grange

September 17, 2016 at 8pm to September 25, 2016 at 4pm
, Ashland Contemporary Theatre in association with Livia Genise Productions presents the Tony Award winning musical, "Chess" in Concert.  Tim Rice and his collaborators are giants of the rock musical, and this monumental score includes the…See More
Oct 12

© 2016   Created by Ashland Source Center.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service