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Eleanor O'Brien and Jeff Falen’s Persephone Farm is nestled between the south fork of the Santiam River and the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. They have been farming on the banks of the Santiam River for 18 years. Their farm is approximately 55 acres, and they have ten acres in mixed vegetable cultivation. Jeff and Eleanor's ultimate goals are to create self-sustaining systems on their farm and to move away from all non-renewable resources.
We produce a number of machine transplanted crops, including broccoli, cauliflower, kohl rabi, fennel, cabbage, corn, lettuce, kale, collards, basil and parsley, as well as direct-seeded beets, chard, spinach, cilantro, turnips, rutabaga, bush beans and dill. These crops are distributed in strips among a number of rotational units.
Persephone Farm is involved in the Conservation Biological Control Project in which CBC practices are distributed within, between and around these commodities, as the farming operation permits. A number of CBC practices have evolved on the farm over the 18 years of current operation.
- plantings of sunflowers for birds and minute pirate bug (assumed to be a predator of cucumber beetle larvae);
- plantings of dill, cilantro, fennel, Agastache, Alyssum, Calendula and orache interspersed with cash crops, to attract and sustain various beneficial insects;
- an attempted hedgerow (which was not a success because of competition with weeds) of shrubs meant to attract and sustain birds, bees and beneficial insects;
- emphasis on cover-cropping fields not in cash crops, many with flowering plants such as vetch and clover;
- pastured poultry flock which hopefully consumes potentially harmful soil invertebrates;
- vigorous wild population of mustards, radishes, chickweed, speedwell etc., to sustain a vibrant wasp community
Photo by Lane Selman