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Guest Author | 09/02/2020 | Outdoor Recreation

Willamette Valley Victory Gardening

Most people think of Corvallis as a college town, and most of them would be right. But Corvallis is also an agricultural oasis with a constantly evolving food web of research and education that are put into practice in the fields. The wealth of knowledge and the willingness to share it creates a sense of community that preserves its "small-town" appeal and puts the "culture" in agriculture.

Every year, I attend the OSU Organic Grower's Club "Hoo-Haa" farm party with live music, vendors, demonstrations, volunteer planting, and an epic feast. With Covid putting the brakes on the event this year, the organizer and OSU soil science professor James Cassidy dove head first into germinating an army of vegetables to march their way to victory gardens across town. While my agricultural experience has mostly been isolated out in the field with a few other farmhands, helping Cassidy unload his veggie starts brought me closer to the community during a period of isolation. I began a roadside farmstand off the tailgate of my truck with an honor system for payment, and the payments have been honorable in ways that go far behind financial means.

Giving a person advice on starting their first garden became as satisfying as it was common. I met old neighbors I had never spoken to before. I donated starts to the food bank because I had more than I could manage, and people who had more than they could manage were dropping their starts off at my farmstand. I made new friends. I bartered produce for other goods like duck eggs, bacon, cheese, salve, tinctures from tinkerers and other produce from farmers with gardens of their own. As my garden grew bigger, the community seemed to grow smaller. A fermentation student began regularly taking excess fruit for their fermentation projects in exchange for cheese from the OSU creamery. Neighbors exchanged perennial flowers for vegetable starts and fruit.

I started my victory garden as a means of feeling secure about having easier access to backyard groceries, but in the long run, it provided me with the means to nourish myself more than just physically. The joy and pride that comes from providing not only for yourself but others builds confidence, strengthens bonds, and rewards our mental health. Connecting with the rich soil of the Willamette Valley under your fingernails, becoming part of the local food web, and occupying the small world that is Corvallis's network of students, scholars, farmers, and townies has been spiritually fulfilling. So Corvallis is not just a college town and more than just farmland, but a symbiotic relationship between the two that make the "heart of the valley" a biodynamic agricultural playground.

Article by Randall Bonner. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happening by signing up for our email newsletter.

You don't have to start your own victory garden to enjoy the fruits of our harvests in Corvallis. Check the list below for tons of ways to sample rural life and its rewards in our area.

Travelers, please note that Benton County is currently in Phase 2 of Oregon's phased reopening plan. (Learn what this means for you.) Non-essential travel is not currently advised, so we recommend travelers stay close to home. Businesses in our area are mostly open, but may be operating with altered hours, requiring appointments, and/or have additional safety requirements in place. Please call ahead to businesses you're interested in visiting to confirm if they're open and what they're requiring.

Click on the titles or images below for more information.

1. Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail

Download a free brochure for the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail and tour the rural delights available in our area, including farms and ranches, restaurants serving locally-sourced foods, wineries, and more.

2. Mid-Valley Sip Trip

The Mid-Valley's craft beverage makers invite you to take a trip to the finest distilleries, breweries, ciderhouses and meaderies the valley has to offer. The Corvallis area is known for its fragrant hops, rich honey, bittersweet apples and golden grains - all the ingredients necessary to make the most delectable and diverse libations around.

3. U-Pick Farms Near Corvallis

Gather up the family, grab your baskets, and head out to a U-Pick farm to go berry picking! It's a great way to spend an afternoon, and there are several U-Pick farms near Corvallis.

4. Leaping Lamb Farm Day Tours

Leaping Lamb will do small group farm tours, throughout the year, which makes for an amazing personal experience. You can see the animals, tour the lovely farm, hike in the woods, play in the barn, have a picnic, and more.

5. 50 Mid-Willamette Valley Adventures to Explore

The mid-Willamette Valley offers a lot to enjoy, from hiking and biking trails to boutique shopping in cute downtown areas, from afternoons relaxing in beautiful vineyards to amazing meals in intimate, locally-owned restaurants - and that's just for starters.

6. Farms and Local Flavors in Corvallis: Plan the Perfect Trip

Corvallis might be a busy college town, but it’s surrounded by a rural paradise. If getting down on the farm is your goal, Corvallis, Oregon is the place to do it.

7. Down on the Farm in Corvallis

If you want a more “country” experience there are plenty of options to get out and explore. Benton County’s diverse economy is based largely on agriculture, growing products that include Christmas trees, wine grapes, seed crops, dairy, sheep, produce and more. There are a variety ways to connect with our local farmers and gardeners.

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