ABOUT THE RAPTOR CREEK FARM
RAPTOR CREEK FARM
John Reinhart, a longtime Food Bank supporter, was speaking to the Food Bank's Program Manager, Susan Scheufele one day and the topic of quality food for struggling families came up. John simply said, “The Food Bank should have a farm.”
As this conversation was happening, the City of Grants Pass had just completed the purchase of the River Road Reserve, 250 acres of prime agricultural land just outside the city limits. While the Food Bank had been involved in a small scale garden project behind the warehouse on “M” Street, as well as other gardens throughout School District 7, we hadn’t before considered the idea of growing food on a large scale for the increasing demand.
After careful thought, discussion, and community conversations, the decision was made to move our main garden to Raptor Creek Farm and grow healthy, grocery quality produce to distribute in emergency food boxes.
Since 2011, the garden has produced hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce that has been distributed to individuals and families throughout Josephine County.
Today the garden has been a huge success since our humble beginnings. The Farm produces an average of 40,000 pounds of fresh organic produce each year.
The variety of crops vary from year to year depending on the trends of the needs in our community. We monitor an organic operation and actively solicit feedback from our clients and community about what we should grow each season.
In addition, thanks to the Four-Way Community Foundation, we have raised beds growing specialized plantings like asparagus, for example. The mature plants actively produce and provide a specialized fresh crop that is financially out of reach for our clients under ordinary circumstances.
While the Food Bank provides staff support to the garden, the bulk of the work and maintenance is performed by community volunteers. These dedicated folks are out working Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays throughout the season.
Raptor Creek Farm is a community based and supported project. The senior garden at the Farm features raised beds to make gardening easier for elderly adults. The beds are filled with organic mix and are set up with efficient drip irrigation.
The purpose of this project is to provide low income and disabled seniors with a comfortable and friendly place to grow veggies, enjoy the outdoors and build a community garden. The senior garden project provides them with a place to not only grow their own food but obtain social interaction and exercise all leading to improved health outcomes
"Planting Seeds for the Future"
The Food Bank offers programs to help connect kids to food, health, nutrition, and their environment through hands-on learning at the farm. AllCare Health, the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, and OSU Extension came together to help make sure local youth have a bright future by helping them build skills for life at Raptor Creek Farm. On-site they learn gardening skills, nutrition, environmental stewardship, and are physically active while helping to grow and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables for people in need.
HISTORY OF LATHROP CREEK
Hops have a long history in the Rogue Valley and early newspaper articles refer to their cultivation to the west of the city.
It's a little odd that the hop farm we are working to restore began as a dairy farm in 1906, the Sunny Brook Dairy Farm. Operated by the Lathrop family, working the land as a dairy until the Great Depression when falling dairy prices led to the rethinking of the farm as a viable dairy and the decision to move into hop production. The Lathrop's began growing hops in 1936 and rapidly became a major seasonal employer in the valley.
Many local senior citizens or those who summered here have stories of working the hops or the social events tied into the annual fall hop harvest. Sunny Brook Farm continued on even as other hop farms began to cease operations or diversify, and by the late 1970s and early 1980s, the farm was the last major hop producer south of the Willamette Valley.
In 1989, the Lathrop's harvested the last commercial hops to come from the Rogue Valley and sold their land to Wild River Orchards who began to put the land into Pears to supply Harry and David. The land was later purchased by the Naumes Family and continued to be used to farm pears until the early 2000s.
The property was then sold to the City of Grants Pass in 2006. The Food Bank came onto the scene in 2010 when we received permission to plant a concept garden on 2 acres of unused land on the north side of Upper River Road and the rest as they say is history.
After a successful 2010 growing season, the Food Bank moved all operations to the farm and have produced an average of over 40,000 pounds of fresh grocery quality produce for hungry individuals and families in our community each year.