The next generation of family farms is moving onto the Rogue Valley local food scene with waves of inspiration. We were lucky enough to take a tour of both Fusion Farm and Little Sprouts Farm, and learn more about what motivates them, the goods they produce, and how they grow their harvests.
Shantrin Lininger of Fusion Farm has had her hands in the dirt since the beginning. The granddaughter of an Ashland farmer, she grew up surrounded by the beauty and bounty of her family gardens. Now, with a family of her own, she works the soil on her micro-mini plots in Phoenix and Talent. Her motivation lies within her want to educate people about the true source of their food and the importance of supporting local farmers. She specializes in a variety of edible flowers and also grows herbs such as oregano, sage, and basil, asian greens, eggplant, tomatillo, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and lettuces — just to name just a few.
Follow Shantrin’s blog to get updates about what’s popping on her farms, and for more information about her distinctive varieties. She always has great tips, like using edible flowers (nasturtium) for a vitamin-packed addition to your salads, or as garnishes on desserts like ice cream and cake. You can also try candying them or freezing them in ice cubes for a fancy float in your tasty drink! You can also find Shantrin and her specialties at the Ashland Growers Market.
Further north, located in the heart of Sams Valley is Little Sprouts Farm, which is run by Dave Salch with the help of his wife and hard-working children. The family moved to the Rogue Valley from Southern California about three years ago so they could give their children a life full of hands-on education about where their food comes from and raise and breed high-quality and rare livestock they way nature intended.
Wandering around and enjoying life on the farm are a number of heritage breeds (breeds whose genetics have not been changed or manipulated over time by breeding or genetic engineering) such as Narragansett Turkeys, Red Wattle Pigs, Jacob Sheep, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Indian Runner Ducks, a variety of rare breed chickens, and honey bees. The animals are fed a soy and corn free diet full of organic grains and produce.
The Salch’s are devoted to producing the highest-quality meat, milk, and eggs by providing a life for their animals that is as comfortable and natural as they can offer. This dedication is motivated by the idea that most Americans today are so far removed from the source of their food, that the respect for it has all but disappeared. They strive to support the delicate balance between nature and consumer and support their local community by being a beacon for health, nutrition education, and family-oriented activity.
Check out their blog to learn more about the animals and to follow them as they document everything from the mundane, to hilarious and adorable trials of everyday farm life.
Hungry for more info? Both farms can be contacted through their websites (and to place orders), or through the Rogue Valley Local Foods website.
Little Sprouts Farm
Cheri Browne is a writer, photographer, reveler of Southern Oregon and enamored connoisseur of all things West Coast.