Southern Oregon’s Farm Dinner Pioneers

farm pioneers

On a beautiful June day in 2010, a group of people dedicated to the sustainable food movement gathered in a farm field for the second Farm to Fork Farm Dinner at Dunbar Farm in Medford, Oregon. Several of them shared their thoughts on our YouTube video, which you can watch here.

Farm to Fork dinner table

We were delighted to discover that all of the people we interviewed six years ago are not only still active in promoting local food and wine but are using their talents and experience to make a real difference in sustainable living.

Join us as we fast forward and take a look at where these folks are today.

Matthew Article
Images courtesy Matthew Domingo, L upper; Jacobsen Salt Co. Facebook, others.

Matthew Domingo –A graduate of the University of Portland and the Oregon Culinary Institute, Matthew Domingo founded the Farm to Fork event company and was the key organizer of the 2010 event at Dunbar Farms. As a passionate sustainable food advocate for more than a decade he has stood for healthy agricultural businesses, and the people and communities that rely on them.

Now the Director of Sales and Marketing at Portland’s Jacobsen Salt Co., he continues to manifest that very personal mission. Through his creative energies and collaborative nature, he has helped position the company since early 2015 into the strong national brand of single origin products that it is today.

Since 2011 Jacobsen Salt Company has been hand-harvesting salt from the clear pristine ocean waters of Netarts Bay on the Oregon Coast. In addition to pure flaked sea salt and infused sea salts, such as Infused Cherrywood Smoked Salt and their famous Ghost Chili Salt, the company produces cocktail salts, seasonings and spice blends.

In a major nod to the “all boats rise” philosophy, Jacobsen Salt is also a flavor component found in other craft food products. For example, the canned, line-caught albacore tuna sold in their online shop is a 100% locally-sourced collaboration of their Pure Kosher Salt, Community Supported Fishery and the Oregon Olive Mill.

Bee Local Smoked Honey
Bee Local Smoked Honey. Image courtesy Jacobsen’s Salt Co.

In 2014, the company acquired Bee Local, a hyperlocal, neighborhood-specific honey producer based in Portland, which just a year later earned a 2016 Good Food Award. The product quickly gained coast-to-coast visibility by leveraging Jacobsen’s high profile national distribution channels, such as Williams Sonoma.

The company envisions its future as the leading purveyor of single origin artisanal food products. With Domingo’s community building, food-centric marketing talent at the helm, it will be exciting to watch.

Find them on their website, on Facebook, IG @jacobsensaltco, or at one of their tasting rooms.

Chef Kristen Lyon

Kristen Lyon – Chef Kristen was the chef for the 2010 Farm to Fork Farm Dinner, and she is still busy making meals that reflect the season. Along with Chef Gillian Gifford, Kristen creates meals to-go from her commercial kitchen in Jacksonville, aptly called Farm Kitchen.

Her prepared meals, side dishes, bone broths and ready-to-bake pizza, cookie dough and pies are all made from regionally sourced, organic and whole foods. She lives her motto “know where your food comes from” so her customers will, too.

Here are a few of her farm kitchen sources:

Meats: Scott River Ranch and Plaisance Ranch
Produce: Wandering Roots Farm, Whistling Duck Farm, Fry Family Farm and Runnymede Farm
Cheese: By George Farm
Pasta and pestos: Sherry’s Pasta

Items from the bi-monthly menu, which includes vegan, gluten free and other dietary options, are ordered on her website, picked up at her kitchen inside the JoyFull Yoga Studio 135 S. Oregon St., Jacksonville, or delivered to your door.

farm dinner
Zucchini Corn Fritters with Braised Beef and Basil. Image courtesy Jefferson Farm Kitchen.

Chef Kristen still organizes “farm dinner” events, such as her annual “Hive to Table” fundraiser at Historic Hanley Farm in Central Point, OR. Kristen creates a menu that weaves honey into each course, and works to bring Southern Oregonians closer to the source of their food.

farm dinner
Michael Donovan. Image courtesy Irvine and Roberts Vineyards, Facebook.

Michael Donovan – Back in 2010 at the Farm to Fork Dinner, Michael was managing director of Roxy Ann Winery in Medford, Oregon, which provided the wine pairing that evening. Following his 10-year stint at that well known urban winery, he was tapped in 2013 by friends Doug and Dionne Irvine, owners of Irvine and Roberts Vineyards in Southern Oregon, to take their 30-acre nascient winery program to new heights as Managing Director.  In this position,  Michael has overseen the sales and operational activities at the winery, which is now producing world class ultra-premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

farm dinner
Bud break. Image courtesy Irvine and Roberts Vineyards, Facebook.

Widely respected for his 40 years of experience with all aspects of the wine business and extensive knowledge of consumer trends, Michael has served for the past six years on the Oregon Wine Board as policy advocate for Oregon’s burgeoning wine industry.

For more on Irvine Family Vineyards, visit their website and Facebook.

farm dinner

Ken and Susan Mueller – At the time of the 2010 Farm to Fork Dinner, the Muellers owned Rogue Valley Brambles, a 15-acre farm in Talent, Oregon. Today they continue to follow their passion for sustainable locally-sourced foods as owners of Pasture 42 in Guinda, Calif.

Doubling the size of their prior farm, Pasture 42 includes 32 acres dedicated to sustainable farming practices. Loyal Southern Oregon customers will be pleased to know they are thriving as a farm family and have expanded their offerings from olive oil, fruit vinegar and chickens to now include grains; beef, pork and turkey; and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

“In the last few years ‘sustainable’ has become a fashionable buzzword that has been so co-opted and misused that it has lost much of its meaning,” Ken and Susan state on their website. “A large part of sustainability, and one that we feel is often overlooked by many consumers in the push to consume organic foods, is buying locally.

“Buying locally both reduces food miles and keeps money in the local economy. We are currently looking for ways to get more, and ideally all, of our purchased inputs, especially feed, locally.”

Visit Pasture 42 here and on Facebook.

farm dinner
David Mostue and Katlin Mostue-Nesbit. Image courtesy of Dunbar Farms.

David Mostue – David is a fourth generation farmer. His Dunbar Farms, where the 2010 Farm to Fork farm dinner was held, is a family farm that dates back to 1909 that he co-owns with his mother, Emily Mostue. David’s focus is on feeding the local community with year-round foods in a low footprint way. The farm produces grass hay, eggs, grain, flour, sourdough breads, dry beans and produce, as well as Rocky Knoll Wine. Dunbar’s self-serve “honor barn” farm stand, located at 2881 Hillcrest Road in East Medford, is open from sunrise until 10 p.m. all year.

Named as one of the 35 Innovators under 35, he believes “we need to bring agriculture back into the fabric of our lives, to a place in society where it garners respect,” Mostue said in an interview with 1000 Friends of Oregon. “You just never hear about farming in the school system, you never hear about agriculture techniques on the radio. We need to elevate those career opportunities to that of doctors, lawyers, and politicians.”

Along with his wife, apiarist Katlin Mostue-Nesbit, they continue to learn what the farm can produce, test new heirloom varieties, and give local consumers a choice of foods that are either fresh or have long storage life for later consumption.

It is gratifying to know that these farm dinner pioneers in Oregon’s sustainable food and wine industry are still leaders “in the field” of local-sourced foods. They’re making lasting contributions to the craft food and wine industry that is giving the public a true taste of place.

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