Our Table offers CSA shares, beef, blueberries and more

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Our Table, an organic cooperative farm between Wilsonville and Sherwood, plans to open a farm stand offering produce and prepared food products by the end of the summer. A year in and things are playing out even more quickly than expected at Our Table, a young co-operatively owned organic farm outside Wilsonville.

Founded in 2011 with the purchase of a 58-acre farm on Southwest Morgan Road west of Wilsonville, Our Table originally offered up little more than a vision for the future of a new type of community-based farming.

In 2013, the farm’s first season of commercial operations, it offered shares in a community supported agriculture, or CSA, program for the farm’s organically grown vegetables and fruits.

This included the blueberries also grown by the farm’s former owners, the Parsons family, as well as seasonal vegetables. The season culminated in December with the introduction of the farm’s first prepared food product, Marina di Chioggia squash soup infused with apples, onions and lemon.

Our Table also raises broiler chickens, geese and grass-fed cattle. And it continues to host big plans for the future, chief among them the completion of a new farm store and produce stand now under construction on the west side of the farm property.

“Everything’s playing out quicker than expected,” said Gianna Banducci, the farm’s director of sales and marketing. “Our CSA is coming back, (lead farmer) Josh (Volk) is expanding his vegetable planting, we’ll even have a fall pumpkin patch.”

The blueberries are still here, she added. So many, in fact, that the farm is impatiently awaiting word on its organic certification through Stellar Certification, an offshoot of Demeter International. That should come in the next few months, making it easier to market and sell the acres of berries they plan to harvest this year.

“We’ve been wholesaling them frozen in 5-pound bags,” Banducci said.

The farm store, however, remains one of the focal points of Our Table’s ambitious long-range plan to serve as an agricultural hub, not only for consumers but as an educational resource and community gathering spot.

A soft launch is anticipated by the end of the summer, Banducci said, hopefully in time to host the second season of Our Table’s Farm Dinner series, set this year for Aug. 9-10 and featuring Portland chef Joshua McFadden.

“The idea is that it looks like an old barn,” said Narendra Varma, the farm’s founder and a proponent of slow money, which touts long-term investment over short-term profitability.

More than that, he said, the new building will be using reclaimed wood salvaged from an old barn on the property that was too decrepit to save.

“It will look like modern additions were made to an old structure,” Varma said. “That’s kind of the look and feel. It’s got a lot of interesting form to it.”

Behind the store will be beds of flowers, while an accompanying commercial kitchen will prepare the farm’s soups and other products it hopes to introduce to the market in the near future. The latter might include a range of jams and jellies and even complete meals.

Even better for visitors, the kitchen will be open for viewing through large windows.

“Really, the vision is to make it the local store,” said Varma. “I’d like people in the neighborhood to walk to it or bike to it, as the case may be, and get everything they need. The hope is that once the kitchen is online, really, you should be able to come here and buy everything you need for a meal.”

Over time, Our Table hopes to expand use of the farm store to include demonstrations and other educational activities.

“It’s training people about what foods are really good for you and what they should be eating,” said farm manager Paul Shaw. “We should have food training about what can be grown locally and what you can do with it.”

Another offshoot of that could be a future experimental garden aimed at showing what can be done with a typical suburban residential lot.

“Merging the two worlds of beauty as well as yield and abundance is a challenge, Varma said. “But I think we’re well positioned to demonstrate that to people. We are basically continuing to realize this vision and this plan.”

By Josh Kulla
Assistant Editor / Photographer
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