Seeder: Chris Casad, Juniper Jungle Farm
The Farm: 30 acres – 3.5 miles outside of Bend, OR – permaculture, biodynamics
What They Seed: 9 acres of vegetables in row crops and greenhouses – 15 acres for grassfed cattle
Where You Can Find Them:
Farmers Markets: Bend (Wednesday), NW Crossing (Saturday)
CSA: 64 member CSA, including some work-trade members
Chris was born into a military family in Idaho, so he moved around a lot of his childhood, before landing in Bend in 3rd grade. He had a strong work ethic and loved a physical challenge; started a lawnmowing company at age 13 and eventually construction work in his late teens. Chris always had an aptitude for science and eventually came across the concept of permaculture. He decided to pursue some schooling, including an 8 week live-in program at Lost Valley Education Center focusing on permaculture. It was there he first learned about closed loop farming and producing everything you need. The rest of that summer was spent in a work-trade at Cougar Mountain Farm near Cottage Grove. At the 350 acre off-the-grid farm Chris learned about true sustainability and appreciated seeing the deep history of the land and the project that was founded in 1972.
In 2008 Chris returned to Bend and moved onto a friend’s 15 acre property to start applying what he had learned. He lived in a teepee and worked the land from June to October to feed himself, family and friends. In his third season, Chris started selling vegetables and began considering farming a career. He continued to employ permaculture practices and really focused on sourcing everything needed for the fertility of his land from nearby, including horse manure from a neighboring equine center. With the very short growing season in Bend (just 90 days) and the possibility of frost any month of the year, the use of row covers and high tunnels became a necessity to extend the growing season by 30 days on each end. Without this, it would be nearly impossible to produce on a scale to sustain such a high-altitude farm.
Even with the permaculture philosophy and using the Farmers Almanac but felt that something was missing. In 2012 Chris started using the biodynamic calendar and officially launched Juniper Jungle Farm. Just 2 years later he’s got a 64 person CSA, attends two weekly farmers markets and has a number of wholesale counts. The farm has grown to create a need to employ more help in the fields, at the farmers market and with the marketing. As the farm continues to grow, Chris is exploring ways to use tools and machines to create the maximum work output with the few number of hands he has, growing some of the most amazing vegetables found in the Bend area.
Advice to New Farmers:
– focus + learn from the ground up
– figure out how to sell a physical product
– know that people recognize quality
– diversity is key, but some crops aren’t worth your time
“Living & working, It’s just what farming is”
“There’s a good lesson in farming: figuring, seeing it and working through it”
“There are only so many peas one farmer can pick”
“If you’re not good at overcoming problems you’re probably not going to be a good farmer”
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