A Field Trip to Fiddlehead Farm -- By Katherine Kornei

Winter greenhouse at Fiddlehead Farm, photo by Patrick Hart

A Field Trip to Fiddlehead Farm — By Katherine Kornei

January 26, 2018 |  by  |  Blog, Vendor Profiles

Fiddlehead Farm, one of Montavilla Farmers Market’s long-standing vendors, invited market board members to its farm in Corbett, Oregon on Sunday, January 7th for a winter market. After a scenic drive along Highway 84, we arrived in drizzling rain and happily accepted the mugs of hot tea offered to us by farm staff.

Fiddlehead Farm’s January produce, photo by Patrick Hart

The large, airy barn where we gathered was decorated with strings of white lights, and piles of pumpkins, kale, carrots, mustard greens, turnips, beets, and collard greens revealed the farm’s winter productivity. Co-owner Tayne Reeve greeted us and invited us to join her on a tour of the farm, which grows over 100 varieties of vegetables.

Fiddlehead Farm currently grows crops on about 5.5 acres of fenced, gently sloping land. Despite being located less than half a mile from the Sandy River, the farm draws its water from city pipes because the river doesn’t have enough summer water for all of the nearby farms. We walked along the farm’s new gravel road—installed to prevent erosion—and ducked into the warmth of a greenhouse. Mixed greens and fennel were growing in the 20 x 96-foot space, which Tayne and co-owner Katie Coppoletta built themselves with a loan from the Farm Service Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. “There’s so much going on to run the farm,” Tayne says.

In addition to building greenhouses, Tayne and Katie and their staff plant and harvest crops, sell at farmers’ markets and stores such as New Seasons Market and People’s Food Co-op in Portland, and maintain the farm’s website.

The former “tomato jungle,” at Fiddlehead Farm, photo by Patrick Hart

Last summer, Fiddlehead Farm grew 290 tomato plants in what Tayne refers to as the “tomato jungle,” a greenhouse with hanging strings that the tomato plants climbed. Carrots and peas will be grown in that same greenhouse for the first Montavilla Farmers Market in May. Tayne and Katie practice crop rotation to keep their soil healthy, and they fill notebooks with sketches and lists to help them remember where crops have been planted in previous years. The busiest time of the year is June through November, Tayne says, but farm interns help out during that period.

We admired the farm’s tumble washer for roots, a cylindrical contraption of wooden slats in which roots are tumbled and cleaned before going to market. It looked like a big time-saver over scrubbing roots at the sink like most of us do.

This year, Tayne and Katie are looking forward to growing Brussels sprouts. Fiddlehead Farm typically grows 7–8 new crops per year, mostly dictated by what sells well, Tayne says. There are also plans to expand the farm’s small orchard to include figs and persimmons. We stopped by the barn for a refill of hot tea before heading out, our shopping bags full of fresh produce. We have a newfound appreciation, we all agreed, for the work that goes into bringing food to the market.

 

MFM board members, volunteers, and staff visiting Katie and Tayne (far left) at Fiddlehead Farm, photo by Patrick Hart


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