Saturday, July 21, 2012

WWOOF Adventures Begin at Elk Creek Gardens

Where do I begin?

The Hammonds' have welcomed me very warmly into their farm operation and their home--an place that is impossible to appropriately capture in words.

Sara and Sherman cultivate their organic garden, hunt, fish, and make life happen in amazing ways out here on their beautiful woodsy property, nestled near Crater Lake in the Rogue River-Siskiyou Forest in Oregon. It is blissfully quiet with incredible mountain vistas and all sorts of wildlife. 

Sara and Sherman have been here since 1971 and have raised 2 children here. They have so much more experience and knowledge of life in a small rural community and farming than my 10 day visit could ever do justice to.

Their house is really special, and I promise a post dedicated to it. They built it themselves, along with help from some friends. Almost all of it was put together over time with local and reclaimed materials, or gifts from friends and family.

Sara provides organic produce and flowers to members of her Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Trail, Shady Cove, Eagle Point, and Prospect. Occasionally she sells produce at markets in Ashland. This is no small feat. To do this, she cultivates several fields, 3 greenhouses, berry bushes, and fruit trees, with the help of her husband Sherman. I have a lot of respect for the work they put in to make it all happen. 

So much about organic gardening involves holding your own against other elements. We battle for Elk Creek's wares against a free roaming cattle herd, deer, insects, gophers, weeds, and of course, the heat of the day. Much of our days revolve around securing the goods from one or more of those. 

I've also harvested raspberries, boysenberries, carrots, spinach, strawberries, garlic, tomatoes, green beans, basil, and flowers, and I've gone on the produce delivery to the CSA members in Shady Cove with Meghan, the other WWOOFer staying with the Hammonds this summer. 

Screens on top of strawberries deter hungry deer.

Morning Glories are pretty, but they spiral up other plants and eventually choke them. So, out they go.

Meghan, the other WWOOFer. Check the bags in the backseat--I accompanied her on the delivery to Sara's CSA customers on Wednesday.
In just a few short days Sara, Sherman, Meghan, and I have done a lot of good work, a lot of great eating, and a lot of laughing together. I'm looking forward to more...

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