Monday, January 19, 2009

Meet Your Big Lick Farmers!

Good day new and returning farm friends! We wanted to introduce ourselves to some of you for the first time! We are a husband and wife team farming 5 acres on the beautiful Umpqua floodplain! Here is our story......(or kinda my story since Asinete is shy and wants to remain mysterious!)

Suzie's story.....2009 will be my 6th year of organic farming. I was born into a rural lifestyle in Orange County, Ca. in the beautiful coastal sage scrub hills and canyons of Trabuco. I grew up without electricity (home was too far away from town at the edge of Cleveland National Forest). While my parents had jobs away from "the ranch" there were always plenty of horses, pigs, chickens and goats to contend with, hills to climb, streams to forge and snakes to catch! Growing up surrounded by nature was a tremendous influence early on that directed my lifestyle and career choices. While away at college in the Monterey Bay I became involved in environmental restoration using Ca. native plants. I became an AmeriCorps intern and helped many other interns and volunteers to restore the former army base of Fort Ord back to it's native state (replanting old fire roads and abandoned artillery ranges with native plant species to increase biological diversity and prevent erosion). While in Monterey I also became involved in an organic educational farm in Salinas called ALBA. ALBA consists of more than 100 acres and is used as a school to help teach migrant farm laborers how to become independent business people, teaching students how to grow using organic methods and how to successfully market their products. I began to volunteer my extra time here helping students with their CSA programs. At ALBA while harvesting and working with the land I found my calling~ organic farming! I received my Bachelors of Science in environmental studies but did not know what I would do with it until my days at ALBA. From Monterey Bay I took a job as a school farm manager in a small town in South Monterey County called San Ardo. Here with the help of the community and school we were able to turn an abandoned 1 1/2 acres into a certified organic school/community farm. The students from K-8th attended weekly classes held at the farm in our outdoor classroom. Some classes were spent digging in the compost pile to learn about decomposing, other days measuring plant growth, some harvesting all the ingredients needed to make some salsa! It was a great place to learn more about organic farming and share the beauty of nature with children. In 2002 I decided to take a year trip overseas.. this led me to New Zealand (picking and packing kiwi fruit), into Australia (just a tourist), Fiji and then to the remote country of Kiribati where I was teaching English for nearly two years and where I happened to meet my future husband and business partner Asinete Tibwe! We married in his country and arrived in Oregon together in the summer of 2007. My mom and dad live in Myrtle Creek and told us what an amazing place Douglas County was... they were right!