According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in half the years between 1971 and 2000 Bend has hit below-freezing temperatures between July 3 and Aug. 31—the prime of an already short local growing season. That's a major problem for the hordes of amateur and professional farmers in Central Oregon who are growing their own backyard food stores.
Bend's Backyard Farm Tour is a DIY map of 21 backyard farms in the area that prove despite late-season freezes, where there's a will, there's a plush garden box full of homegrown kale.
"It is not like a garden tour or going to see nicely manicured flowers," said Dale Friedkin, an organizer of the event. "It's people who are growing food. I think we all know that things are going local, and this event is trying to showcase the extent to which it's happening."
The Backyard Farm tour offers a chance to check out successful crops and chat with their keepers. The choose-your-own-farm-adventure map includes CHOW's raised beds on Newport Avenue. where the restaurant cultivates veggies and herbs for its hyper-local breakfast dishes, balcony gardens and full-scale farms with goats, chickens and orchards. The largest farm is the 20-acre Good Earth Farm north of town—the smallest is "Suzanne's where-there-is-a-WILL-there is-ALWAYS-a-WAY, little in-City balcony garden," where one woman uses a mix of containers and earth boxes to grow a fully functioning garden at in her triplex near Pilot Butte. All the farms are riding the popular local food movement wave.
"It's been an anomalous time in history where only 1 percent of people are involved in food production and that's not going to hold," said Friedkin. "People know that has to change."
Grow your own!
Don't let the harsh winters, freezes in July and hungry deer, squirrels and aphids bemoan you into gardening apathy. Friedkin explained that there are many work-arounds for the short growing season and late-season freezes. Greenhouses, planting in pots and knowing what grows well in Central Oregon can help to ease the urban farmer's crop stress.
"It's not the easiest place in the world to grow, but it's not the hardest," said Friedkin. "We do get a lot of sunshine all summer, and it stays pretty warm. It's almost ideal for garlic and onions, and you can start growing lettuce before March. Kale is really good until we have the deep freezes and then it will come back next spring. Asparagus—another perennial. There's only a period of three or four months where you can't be getting food out of your garden."
Backyard Farm Tour
A fundraiser for NeighborImpact, KPOV, Central Oregon Locavore and Common Ground at Nativity
11 am-4 pm
$10 suggested donation
Booklets available at:
Locavore, 1216 NE 1st Ave.
KPOV, 501 NW Bond St.
Common Ground at Nativity, 60850 Brosterhous Rd.
Cowgirl Cash, 924 Brooks St.
Primal Cut, 1244 NW Galveston Ave.
...and other locations.