People on the Rogue Valley Farm Tour Sunday experienced something like a crash course on rotational grazing, bee pollen and goat tacos. At each of the 28 tour stops, visitors met farmers and ranchers, tasted artisanal food and wine, and learned at least one interesting fact.
They heard that the rare Dawn redwood at Hanley Farm outside of Medford grew from seeds brought from China in 1940, where a grove was discovered after the tree was thought to be extinct. Kids who were among the 125 visitors at Plaisance Ranch in Williams were greeted by junior tour guides who showed them how to lasso a cow statue. Most of all, visitors heard the personal stories of people who staked a claim in the valley’s fertile soil.
Emmanuel Balan and the youngest of his three daughters, Emma, said they enjoyed the “old timey” feel of Hanley Farm, their first stop on the self-guided tour. They said they were impressed that Alice Hanley, who inherited the land in 1890, accomplished a lot and “was single all her life despite that being frowned upon in the 1800s,” said Emmanuel Balan.
At Lakota’s Garden, less than three miles from Hanley Farm, the Balans appreciated the organic family farm growing many varieties of peach and apple trees, and a half mile away, they stopped to take photos of the carefully designed landscape at Dos Mariposas Vineyards & Lavender Farm.
The farms and ranches on the Rogue Valley Farm Tour were spread across Jackson and Josephine counties, making it impossible to see every one in one day. But most are open to the public other times during the year and each has a unique story.
“Many of these operations have been around for generations,” says Mahlea Rasmussen, education coordinator at Ashland Food Co-op, who helped organize the farm tour. “This is not just a job but a way of life. The Rogue Valley Farm Tour participants are passionate stewards of the land and committed to preserving the land and its resources.”
Here are fun facts learned at some of the stops on the 2023 Rogue Valley Farm Tour:
Grants Pass-Rogue River
Rogue Creamery Dairy and Farmstand fun fact: Cows can roam 65 acres of organic pasture along the banks of the Rogue River or duck inside a giant, open barn called the Cow Palace to receive foot baths, on-demand back scratches and milking, and other royal pampering to produce milk for world-renowned cheeses. Tours are free year round to meet the herd and see where the cheesemaking begins: with the soil, sun and native grasses at the certified-humane dairy at 6531 Lower River Road, Grants Pass, 541-471-7292, roguecreamery.com/visit-dairy.
Other Grants Pass-Rogue River area participants in the Rogue Valley Farm Tour were:
- Easy Valley Farm, a diversified produce farm with an onsite and online farm stand at 2557 E. Evans Creek Road, Rogue River, 541-787-0552, Facebook EasyValleyFarmStand.
- Lavender Ally Farm U-pick field has 13 varieties of lavender, all with unique fragrances and different shades of color at 5734 Pleasant Creek Road, Rogue River, 541-582-8998, lavenderally.com.
Sams Valley-Eagle Point
Alpacas at Lone Ranch fun fact: Texting gloves and hand-knitted berets made of soft alpaca fur are big sellers at the store, which also has stuffed toy alpacas and bears, socks, sweaters and cardigans. Owners Renate and Richard Gyuro offer free personalized tours of alpaca ranching at 13856 Weowna Way, White City, 541-821-8071, alpacasontheweb.com.
Other Sams Valley-Eagle Point area participants were:
- Itty Bitty Acres Farm, a family-run regenerative micro farm invested in produce, chickens, flowers, orchard and honey bees at 7401 Highway 234, Central Point, 507-282-1521, Facebook Itty.Bitty.Acres.Farm.
- Wild Bee Honey Farm, a heritage apiary offering local raw honey and pure beeswax candles at its self-service store open dawn to dusk at 14370 Highway 62, Eagle Point, 541-826-7621, Facebook WildBeeHoneyFarm.
Agate Honey Bees farm fun fact: Each beehive is a highly complex unit that functions as a single unit. From the honey house, bees produce beeswax, royal jelly, venom, pollen, bee bread, honey and propolis, which is bee medicine as well as human medicine. The family-friendly farm with a self-service roadside store is at 6547 Truax Road, Central Point, 541-630-4845, Facebook AgateHoneyBees.
Rusted Gate Farm fun fact: The nonprofit demonstration farms’ food production trials and research with the Rogue Valley Food System Network support small farms and produce USDA beef and other food for local schools. The farm’s properties are at 5113 Upton Road, 5461 Upton Road and 5700 Upton Road, Central Point, 541-621-3387, rustedgatefarm.org.
Another Central Point participant was Willow Springs Coats Ranch, a summer farm stand with sweet corn and peaches, and family-owned ranch with grass-fed beef and grass-alfalfa hay at 3371 Willow Springs Road and 3737 Willow Springs Road, Central Point, 541-261-4186, willowspringsranchcp.com.
Fry Family Farm fun fact: More than 100 varieties of certified organic vegetables, fruit, flowers and grains are grown and sold through the farm’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program. The farm store, which also has fresh pies, preserves, pickles, ferments and sauces, is at 2184 Ross Lane, Medford, 541-622-8154, fryfamilyfarm.org.
Hanley Farm fun fact: The old barn, built in 1854 of hand-hewn beams held together with pegs rather than nails, was moved to make room for the “new” barn, constructed in 1900 by a bridge builder. The working farm and museum, owned by the Southern Oregon Historical Society, preserves the history of agricultural development in the Rogue Valley. Public events are held at the farm at 1053 Hanley Road, Medford, 541-622-2025, sohs.org/hanley-farm.
Other Medford-Ashland area participants were:
- Dos Mariposas Vineyards & Lavender Farm, a family-friendly farm with lavender, wine, hard cider and beautiful views at 3976 Bellinger Lane, Medford, 541-224-7881, dosmariposasvineyards.com.
- Dunbar Farms is a fourth-generation family farm that grows organic produce, stone-milled flours, grains, beans and other staples as well as grass hay while also producing award-winning red wines at 2881 Hillcrest Road, Medford, 541-203-0612, dunbarfarms.com.
- EdenVale Winery & Eden Valley Orchards was established in 1885 by Joseph H. Stewart, a pioneer in the commercial pear industry. Fresh-pressed pears are used to make a crisp, dry, organic cider. Wine is also made and sold at the farm at 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford, 541-512-2955, edenvalleyorchards.com.
- Lakota’s Garden is an organic family farm and food forest with heirloom and native fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs for sale at the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market. The farm is not open to the public. 541-301-3346, Facebook LakotasGardenLLC.
- Southern Oregon University’s The Farm provides a place for student and faculty research as well as producing food harvested for the community at 155 Walker Ave., Ashland, 541-499-1006, farm.sou.edu.
- Willow-Witt Ranch spans 445 acres that includes a healthy forest, wetland and farm stay accommodations, from upscale, “glamping” tents to cabins, at 658 Shale City Road, Ashland, 541-890-1998, willowwittranch.com.
Plaisance Ranch fun fact: A prairie schooner, also known as a horse-drawn covered wagon, made westward expansion in the 19th century possible. The ranch, established in 1858, produces USDA certified organic grass-fed beef and award-winning wines at 16955 Water Gap Road, Williams, 541-846-7175, plaisanceranch.com.
Rogue Artisan Foods fun fact: Silvopasture is a managed grazing system of planting fodder trees and shrubs for animals to have shade and feed on a beneficial, complex diet. Goats, pigs and ducks are raised humanely on the farm near an orchard food forest. Visitors tasted birria tacos made of goat shanks, short ribs and neck meat braised in a chili marinade and finished on a plancha with fresh-made organic tortillas at 10414 Highway 238, Jacksonville, 541-708-1565, rogueartisanfoods.com.
Salant Family Ranch fun fact: Angus-cross cattle are raised without hormones or growth stimulants on unsprayed irrigated pastures or quality alfalfa hay. The family ranch welcomes visitors to tour at 5288 Little Applegate Road, Jacksonville, 541-899-8295, Instagram salantfamilyranch.
The English Lavender Farm fun fact: Royal Velvet English lavender is grown in the fields, harvested at its peak, dried in the barn and then packed for culinary use. Visitors are invited Friday to Monday in June and July to pick lavender bundles, learn about essential oil distillation and taste delicious culinary creations at 8040 Thompson Creek Road, Applegate, 541-301-4189, englishlavenderfarm.com.
Troon Vineyard fun fact: Plants and animals support each other in the Demeter biodynamic and Regenerative Organic-certified 100-acre biodiverse farm. Chickens follow the sheep in rotational grazing and dogs protect the herd and flock on land that produces cider apples, vegetables and wine grapes at 12800 Kubli Bench Road, Grants Pass, 541-846-9900, troonvineyard.com.
Whistling Duck Farm and Store fun fact: Excellent soils and an ideal climate are needed to grow high quality, certified organic seed garlic. During the tour, chef Adam Kallio explained the superfood blend made from farm-grown greens and roots as well as fermented and freeze-dried foods produced at 12800 Williams Highway, Grants Pass, 541-761-5867, whistlingduckfarm.com.
Other Applegate Valley area participants were:
- Applegate River Lavender Farm cultivates seven varieties of white, pink and blue-purple lavender for culinary use, crafting, essential oil production and you-pick bouquets at 375 Hamilton Road, Jacksonville, 541-702-2250, applegateriverlavender.com.
- Goodwin Creek Gardens’ high quality lavender, culinary and medicinal herbs, milkweed and other plants are grown organically with no GMOs, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or sewage sludge at 970 Cedar Flat Road, Williams, 541-846-7357, goodwincreekgardens.com.
- Oshala Farm is a certified organic farm that uses regenerative, sustainable cultivation practices to grow more than 70 varieties of medicinal and culinary herbs at 14900 Highway 238, Grants Pass, 541-200-9972, oshalafarm.com.
- Siskiyou Seeds family farm buys organic and biodynamic vegetable and flower seed varieties from Seven Seeds Farm and other skilled organic seed growers throughout the Cascadia bioregion to sell at 3220 E. Fork Road, Williams, 541-660-1077, siskiyouseeds.com.
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072