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.
The Willamette Valley
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.
Supporting local agriculture is an important way to support sustainable, healthy communities.
Access to fresh, nutritious food helps us maintain healthy lives, while also providing opportunities to gather for shared experiences. Local food systems connect communities with farmers and ranchers, allowing consumers to have direct interaction with producers as they make their food choices.
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.