Food & Farms
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Photo Credit: Unsplash.
Swallowtail Farm, one of the many small-scale food producers located in Washington County.
Irrigation Drip. Photo Credit: Andy Bauer
Farm Land Aerial View. Photo Credit: Unsplash.
Our Bountiful Region
As Oregonians, we are lucky to have agriculture deeply seeded in our economy and cultural heritage. The Willamette Valley is among the most diverse agricultural regions on Earth due to its rich, fertile soils and ample rainfall.
Participating in local agriculture supports sustainable, healthy communities.
Access to fresh, nutritious food helps us stay healthy and provides opportunities for shared experiences. Local food systems connect communities to their food and the farmers and ranchers who provide it. Growing relationships between consumers and producers allows for more informed purchasing decisions and direct investment into our local economy.
Our agricultural landscape:
What does Washington County’s agricultural landscape look like?
Washington County is among the top-producing agricultural counties in the state and is home to thousands of acres of farms, numerous farming families, and a bright array of farm-related businesses.
- Fun fact:
Agricultural land makes up about 25% of the county’s land area!
Our farmers produce almost 100 types of crops, ranging from blueberries and wine grapes to wheat and vegetables. Nursery and greenhouse plants account for the highest crop revenues, followed by grass seed, wheat, dairy products, and berries. These farms make huge contributions to the local economy.
Washington County’s flourishing agricultural industry is accessible to consumers through several farmers markets and at least a dozen community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs). Our local farmers work diligently all year to provide nourishing foods to county residents.
Understanding agricultural viability:
What is agricultural viability? And why is it important?
While a drive around rural Washington County could convince you that farmland is endless, the reality is it’s constantly under threat and rapidly decreasing.
- Not-so-fun fact:
In just five years, between 2012 and 2017, the county experienced a nearly 30% decrease in total agricultural land area . Once farmland is developed, it will likely never return to farming or open space.
That’s why we provide programs and resources to maintain agricultural viability by supporting both existing and aspiring farmers. The term “agricultural viability” describes the capability and suitability of lands to support agriculture in the long-term. Capability refers to site-specific characteristics (soil, water), while suitability refers to the support of agriculture in the larger landscape and community (zoning laws, land-use patterns).
Learn more about strategies that can preserve farmland and ensure agricultural viability.
Are you currently farming in Washington County?
Environmental stewardship and thriving business go hand in hand when it comes to farming. Land productivity and crop quality are dependent on healthy soils and clean water. Working together, we can use a variety of strategies to steward the land so it will remain productive, ensuring that local food systems continue to thrive.
Tips for keeping your farmland healthy:
1. United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2017.
2. United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2012 & 2017.