Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, February 02, 2018, Page 2, Image 2

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February 2, 2018
People & Places
Local seed movement takes root
Casey O’Leary
founds cooperative
that produces local
seed for growers
Capital Press
BOISE — Casey O’Leary
is the brains behind an effort
to take the local food move-
ment one step further and en-
sure that people in Idaho and
the Intermountain West have
locally grown seed to grow
that food.
O’Leary, who owns a
small urban farm in Boise, is
also the founder and manager
of the Snake River Seed Co-
operative. This group of 27
small farmers from around
the region produces local
seeds that are put in garden
packets and sold at retail
nurseries around the state.
Most of the seeds are sold
to backyard gardeners while
some are purchased by small-
scale farmers.
“It isn’t truly local food
if it’s grown from a seed
that has to be brought in
from somewhere else,” said
O’Leary, “We’re trying to
make the local seed piece
come together. We’re trying
to connect the concept of
local food grown from local
O’Leary started the coop-
erative four years ago. Mem-
bers currently grow about
300 varieties of vegetable,
For the Capital Press
Travis Youngberg grew
up on a farm between Pay-
ette and Weiser, Idaho,
farming with his father. He
now rents some of his fa-
ther’s fields and an adja-
cent field. He has farmed
this rented piece for 6 years,
raising dairy alfalfa hay with
wheat as a rotation.
“This particular field has
a bit of slope. Flood irrigat-
ing wasn’t efficient, especially
with all the gopher holes,” said
The irrigation headgate
was also leaking, ready to
wash out. Part of the field is
lower, and the previous renter
jury-rigged some old sprinkler
pipe through the ditch bank to
drop water down to that piece
in a lower ditch, irrigating it
with tail water.
“It was difficult to water
that part because it was hard to
adjust, and only received tail
water from the other portion. I
never knew when it was going
Casey O’Leary
Age: 38
Occupation: Owner, Earthly
Delights Farms, founder
Snake River Seed Co-op
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Education: Bachelor’s
degree in horticulture, Boise
State University
Family: Husband, Brent,
and dog, Ron
Sean Ellis/Capital Press
Boise farmer Casey O’Leary talks about heirloom corn seed Jan. 20 during an organic conference in
Boise. O’Leary founded and manages the Snake River Seed Cooperative, a group of 27 small farmers
who grow local seeds for backyard gardeners and small-scale farmers in Idaho.
herb and flower seeds. The
co-op sold about 30,000 seed
packets last year.
“So we’re not huge but
we’re growing,” O’Leary
said. “We want to create a ro-
bust, regional seed shed.”
While the co-op has
grown to include 27 farmers,
“(O’Leary) is the master or-
chestrator behind the co-op
and convincing farmers to
grow more seed,” said SRSC
member and Middleton farm-
er Mike Sommer.
Sommer said his involve-
ment in the co-op has led him
to start growing more of his
own seed.
Through Saturday
Feb. 3
Agri-Action 2018. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
College of Southern Idaho Expo Cen-
ter, 315 Falls Ave., Twin Falls, Idaho.
Southern Idaho’s largest agricultural
show. Website:
Tuesday, Feb. 6
Developing or Expanding Your
Farm Stand or Agritourism Operation,
Part 2. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. OSU Extension,
Auditorium, SOREC, 569 Hanley Road,
Central Point, Ore. Are you interested in
developing or expanding a farm stand
or agritourism operation? Feb. 6 is
Starting a Farm Stand/Agritourism Op-
eration. Website:
Feb. 6-8
to get there,” he
A 40-foot
bank along one
side was anoth-
er challenge. If
a gopher made
Youngberg a hole in the tail
ditch, the bank
would erode. He
needed a better way to irrigate
the field and thwart erosion.
After the first year of trying
to irrigate that field he talked
to the landowner about using a
government program through
the Natural Resources Conser-
vation Service to improve it.
“I got some cost estimates,
and my landlord liked the
sound of it, realizing it would
help the field,” said Young-
The cost-share program
made it feasible.
“I applied for the program
and agreed to do some water
management- and nutrient
management-related practices,
to help with funding opportu-
nities,” he said. For three years
after putting in the sprinkler
Sponsored by:
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Community Events calendar on the
home page of our website at www. and click on “Submit
an Event.” Calendar items can also be
mailed to Capital Press, 1400 Broadway
St. NE, Salem, OR 97301 or emailed to Write
“Calendar” in the subject line.
Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific
Northwest Farm Forum. 9 a.m. Spo-
kane Convention Center, 334 W Spo-
kane Falls Blvd., Spokane, Presenta-
tions on the weather, ag economy and
a listening session on the farm bill will
be featured in addition to a full slate
of workshops and the large display of
equipment and services. An FFA pre-
sentation and career fair will also be
offered. Website:
Established 1928
Board of directors
Mike Forrester
Steve Forrester
Kathryn Brown
Susan Rana
Mike Omeg
Corporate Officer
Heidi Wright
Chief Operating Officer
Capital Press Managers
Joe Beach ..................Editor & Publisher
Elizabeth Yutzie Sell .... Advertising Director
“We spend thousands of
dollars a year on seed and
I’m sure other farmers do as
well,” he said. “It could save
us a lot of money.”
O’Leary said seed grown
locally will adapt to lo-
cal conditions better than
seed grown in a different
“The longer you grow
seeds in a certain location,
the more they adapt to your
environment, so the seeds
you grow here do better
here,” she said. “When you
buy a seed packet off the
shelf, there’s literally no
transparency in where those
seeds have been grown.”
She said the group is try-
ing to create a culture around
local seeds.
“They’re not just a face-
less thing you start with to
grow your vegetables,” she
said. “They have a huge
cultural history and a huge
economic value, and local
gardens that use local seed do
O’Leary said local seeds
are the next frontier in the lo-
cal food movement.
“So many people have
made that connection between
local food and how it impacts
local communities and local
economies,” she said. “Now
we need to take it that step
further and talk about the
seeds that are growing the ‘lo-
cal’ food.”
She said the plan is to
create a robust, regional seed
shed that includes parts of
Idaho, Washington, Oregon,
Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and
Born and raised in Boise,
O’Leary turned to farming
15 years ago, partly through
her experience with envi-
ronmental activism and “also
through getting fired from a
lot of customer service jobs.
I decided I should maybe
work with plants instead of
Sprinklers give more control over irrigation
Capital Press
Friday, Feb. 9
University of Idaho Cropping
School. 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Best West-
ern Plus Caldwell Inn and Suites, 908
Specht Ave., Caldwell, Idaho. Included
will be updates on corn research in Ida-
ho, high biomass sorghum, drip irriga-
tion, soil health, small acreage farming,
disease diagnostics, spore sampling
and drone research. Cost: $20. Lunch
is provided. Information: Olga Walsh,, 208-722-6701
Saturday, Feb. 10
Field-to-Market Workshop. 9
a.m.-12:30 p.m. North Willamette Re-
search and Extension Center, 15210
NE Miley Road, Aurora, Ore. How to
produce value-added food products,
and where to start. Cost: $25 person
or $40 per couple. http://smallfarms.
Friday, Feb. 16
Pesticide-free Strategies for the
Landscape Professional. 9 a.m.-5
p.m. Oregon City Pioneer Communi-
ty Center, 615 Fifth St., Oregon City,
Ore. Field session March 14. Cost: $50
Monday, Feb. 19
Oregon Blueberry Conference.
8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Salem Convention
Center, 200 Commercial St. SE, Salem.
Program includes a blueberry produc-
tion summary and trends, industry
speakers and research updates, trade
show and reception. Website: oregon-
Engineers at the Natural Resources Conservation Service helped
design Travis Youngberg’s irrigation system.
system he did water and nutri-
ent management.
Engineers at NRCS helped
design the irrigation system
and checked it out after it was
installed. Crop yields have in-
Before, with flood irriga-
tion, there was no way to wa-
ter the field evenly, especially
with the gopher problem.
“Parts of the field I just
couldn’t get wet, and I also
had to be careful on the edg-
es so I didn’t get too close to
the bank and wash it out —
and the landlord’s road,” said
He kept the water quite a
ways away from the edge and
sacrificed a lot of that area for
crops. The middle of the field
also had dry areas because of
gophers. He tried trapping
them but more came back.
After he switched to sprin-
klers he could water the crop
right to the edge, and manage
the irrigation better.
“With flood irrigation you
have to wait longer to get the
water all the way to the bot-
tom of the field. By the time
you get it there, you’ve real-
ly soaked the top; you can’t
give it a light irrigation. When
cutting alfalfa every 28 days,
I want to get the water across
quickly and get it off so the
ground will be dry enough.”
With flood irrigation some
of the top would still be wet.
“The crop might need a lit-
tle more water at the bottom,
but I couldn’t do that because
it took too long to get across
the field — and by the time I
was ready to cut it, it was too
late. Timing on dairy hay is
very critical, so I had to let it
run a little bit out of water. I
was stressing the crop because
I didn’t have enough time to
get across it, and lost some
tonnage,” Youngberg said.
“Now with the sprinklers I
can run a 12-hour set and just
do a light irrigation if I need
to, and adjust it to however
many hours it needs,” he said.
The field now yields much
better than any of his flood-ir-
rigated fields, while using less
Clackamas Small Business Develop-
ment Center, 7726 SE Harmony Road,
Milwaukie, Ore. Register now for the
four-part Farm and Ranch Succession
Planning Workshop Series. No need
to attend in person. You can take this
workshop remotely from anywhere in
the state. This program is offered and
taught by the Clackamas Small Busi-
ness Development Center, along with
guest presenters such as attorneys
and CPAs. In addition to informative
topics and experienced ag profes-
sionals, courses include confidential,
one-on-one business counseling. A
complimentary light dinner will start
each evening at 6 p.m. To register, call
503-594-0738. Cost: Free. Website:
Feb. 22-23
Logging, Construction, Trucking &
Heavy Equipment Expo. Lane County
Fairgrounds and Convention Center,
796 W 13th Ave., Eugene, Ore. The
exhibits, demonstrations and log-load-
ing competition are sponsored by the
Oregon Logging Conference, which
is celebrating its 80th year. Included is
the Oregon Women In Timber annual
dinner and auction. Website: www.or-
Family Farm Alliance Annual Con-
ference, Eldorado Resort Casino, 345
N. Virginia St., Reno, Nev. The theme
of this year’s conference is “One year
in: What’s changed and where are we
going in Western water?” Website:
Thursday, Feb. 22
Friday, Feb. 23
Part 1: Farm & Ranch Succes-
sion Planning Workshop. 6-8:30 p.m.
Produce Safety Alliance Grower
Training. Ontario, Ore. Growers and
20 Northwest Locations
others interested in learning about
produce safety, the Food Safety
Modernization Act Produce Safety
Rule, Good Agricultural Practices and
co-management of natural resources
and food safety. The course is one
way to satisfy the FSMA Produce
Safety Rule training requirement.
Cost $25. To register, visit produce- or contact
Sue Davis at
or 503-807-5864.
den Inn, 1741 Harrison St. North, Twin
Falls, Idaho. The new FSMA regula-
tion requires every processing facility
to have a trained resource person who
has completed a specialized training
course (such as this one) developed
by the Food Safety Preventive Con-
trols Alliance that is recognized by the
FDA. Cost: $720/Individual or $648 per
person for 2 or more. Website: http://
Saturday, Feb. 24
Thursday, March 8
Oregon Small Farms Conference
7:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Oregon State Uni-
versity LaSells Stewart Center and
CH2M Hill Alumni Center, 200 LaSells
Stewart Center, Corvallis, Ore. The
Oregon Small Farms Conference is a
daylong event geared toward farmers,
agricultural professionals, food policy
advocates, students and managers
of farmers’ markets. Twenty-seven
educational sessions are offered on a
variety of topics relevant to the Oregon
small farmers and include a track in
Spanish. Speakers include farmers,
OSU Extension faculty and agribusi-
ness representatives. Website: http://
Feb. 26-27
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Annual Convention. Salem Conven-
tion Center, 200 Commercial St. SE,
Salem, Ore. Website: https://oregon-
March 6-8
FSPCA Preventive Controls for
Animal Food. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Hilton Gar-
Part 2: Farm & Ranch Succes-
sion Planning Workshop. 6-8:30 p.m.
Clackamas Small Business Develop-
ment Center, 7726 SE Harmony Road,
Milwaukie, Ore. This workshop can be
accessed remotely from anywhere in
the state. This program is offered and
taught by the Clackamas Small Busi-
ness Development Center, along with
guest presenters such as attorneys
and CPAs. In addition to informative
topics and experienced ag profes-
sionals, courses include confidential,
one-on-one business counseling. A
complimentary light dinner will start
each evening at 6 p.m. To register, call
503-594-0738. Cost: Free. Website:
March 20-22
International Mass Timber Con-
ference. Oregon Convention Center,
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,
Portland, Ore. There will be 70-plus
speakers from 20 nations and more
than 60 exhibits, plus a tour of Or-
egon’s mass timber buildings. Web-
site: www.forestbusinessnetwork.
Carl Sampson ................Managing Editor
Jessica Boone ........ Production Manager
Samantha McLaren .... Circulation Manager
Entire contents copyright © 2018
EO Media Group
dba Capital Press
An independent newspaper
published every Friday.
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