April 2, 2011

Conversation with Sloan Aagaard, co-owner of Teal Creek Farms

Sloan Aagaard and her partner Keith Nelson operate Teal Creek Farms, a 40-acre farm in the beautiful rolling hills south of Dallas, Oregon. Nearly 2 acres are devoted to organic fruits and vegetables, while the rest is used to grow hay and a small amount of livestock.

Fresh produce from Teal Creek Farms can be found at LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem, and at Salem Public Market every Saturday. Because Sloan and Keith grow for a relatively small local market, they focus on raising a diverse selection of foods. They grow raspberries, potatoes, onions, kale, chard, lettuces, and herbs, among other crops. They also grow vegetable starts for those interested in cultivating backyard gardens.

I recently joined Sloan Aagaard for a conversation about Teal Creek Farms.

Living Culture: What is your first memory of being on a farm?

Aagaard: I was around 4 years old, Grandma was showing me how to pick peas, at
their farm outside of Eugene in Danebo. The bright sun must have made me fussy because grandma quickly put a rhubarb leaf upside down on my head and said that was my sun hat. I immediately felt cool and shaded and enjoyed picking peas. Nearby grandma was briskly working hard, hoeing the ground.

Living Culture: Why did you and Keith decide to live and work in the Willamette Valley?

Aagaard: Both of us were children from the Willamette Valley earning money for picking beans and strawberries. We appreciate the climate, and bounty here.

Living Culture: Has the recession brought any changes for your business?

Aagaard: Produce sales have declined, while vegetable plant sales have increased a bit as more people are growing gardens.

Living Culture: What motivates you to continue working in agriculture?

Aagaard: We enjoy the work and our customers who really appreciate our fresh picked, vine ripe, certified organic, produce.

Sloan Aagaard (right) sells organic produce at Salem Public Market.

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