November 1, 2008

Make Thanksgiving dinner a feast of all things local

by Nate Rafn

Thanksgiving dinner has been a North American tradition for centuries. One of the first Thanksgiving celebrations was a harvest feast shared by Native Americans and Plymouth colonists in 1621.

While the menu and festivities have certainly changed over the years, the original purpose has remained the same. We gather with friends and family to give thanks for our blessings and to share good food together.

In few places is this custom more relevant than in the Willamette Valley. The fertile soil and rich agricultural traditions have given it’s residents an exceptional bounty. High quality meats, grains, vegetables, and fruit are reason enough to give humble thanks.

Farmers’ markets, farm-stands, and home gardens are increasingly popular here. And with easy access to such a diverse selection of foods, shouldn’t we prepare Thanksgiving dinner with locally grown ingredients?

November is the prelude to winter in the Northwest. Yet despite a significant drop in temperature, it brings a unique selection of fresh produce. Many small farms in Oregon are raising turkeys specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday, while others continue to gather fruit from the orchards and vegetables from mid-summer plantings.

Recommendations for your shopping list:

Abundant Life Farm - Dallas

Scott and Marilyn Jondle raised 220 turkeys this year at their sustainable farm South of Dallas. Butchering will take place on the 5th and 8th of November. Birds weigh in at 13-22 lbs. and are priced at $3.50/lb. Call 503-623-6378 or send an email to to reserve a turkey and arrange for pick-up or delivery. No deposit required.

Minto Island Growers - Salem

Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins are in the process of completing their first year of large scale production with 3 acres of vegetable crops and 5 acres of newly planted blueberries. You can find them at the Salem Public Market and Albany Farmers’ Market this month, offering beets, onions, potatoes, squash, carrots, broccoli, dehydrated tomatoes, and various greens. Visit or call 503-779-6967 to learn more.

Afton Field Farm - Corvallis

This 30 acre farm West of Corvallis raised 60 turkeys this year on pasture and in wooded areas. Birds will be butchered on the 21st or 24th of November and sold at $3.50/lb. Products are available for pick-up at the farm. For more information, call Tyler Jones at 541-231-6144 or visit $20 deposit required.

E.Z. Orchards Farm Market - Salem

This is probably the best local source for apples and pears this fall. Apple varieties include Braeburn, Empire, Golden Delicious, Liberty, and Rome, which can be purchased direct at their farm market. Visit or call 503-393-1506 for information.

Teel Creek Farms - Dallas

Owners Keith Nelson and Sloan Aagaard have set aside 2.5 acres at their farm to grow organic produce. Autumn vegetables, including potatoes, leeks, red onions, and greenhouse tomatoes are available at the Salem Public Market on Saturday mornings this month. Call 503-623-6605 or email

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