by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer
Heidi and Doug Moir of RedTail Farm have built, cultivated and grown their way into the local organic food scene in Central Oregon. An operational farm for three years, their holistic and sustainable practices have created an excellent model of a how a small farm can operate in a healthy manner while also supporting and educating the community.
On their 8.5 acres of land just north of Bend, the Moirs grow a beautiful array of organic vegetables and herbs, and use rotational grazing to raise chickens, pigs, turkeys, sheep and cattle. Built around the beliefs and practices of sustainability, their goal for the operation is to be a viable educational tool for farmers, chefs, families and those interested in eating local and organic.
“My main focus is local,” said Heidi. “I’m not saying you have to purchase from us, but go meet the farmers who grow your food and see if the pricing and quality works. If you can support the farmer in your own community, the money comes back threefold. That is really what makes a healthy community.”
RedTail Farm has been proactive in collaborating with other small-scale growers in the area. Because the operation is small and self-contained, Heidi doesn’t see competition as a problem, in fact, she believes building relationships with other farms can help strengthen the local food movement.
“I’d like to take it even one step further to show how valuable a small farm can be,” she said. 90 percent of what the couple hopes to accomplish is educating the public and acting as a sounding board for frustrated consumers who are trying to go organic or trying to understand what organic means. Citing confusing examples such as tricky labeling on “natural” foods, the oxoymoron of “industrial organic farming,” the pasteurization of eggs and radiation of greens, there is a wealth of information she wants to pass on.
“In 2011 it was agreed on through the FDA that all lettuce sold is radiated, even organic, but there have already been three outbreaks of salmonella,” Heidi said. The solution? Know where your food is coming from, and go visit the people who grow it.
RedTail currently manages a plot of land for the non-profit Feedin’ the People; over 3,000 pounds of food have been harvested and donated so far this year with more on the way. They also collaborate with the Culinary Institute of Central Oregon at COCC and their Farm to Table project. “We had them out here for two weeks which was really a blast for all of us,” Heidi said with a smile.
Heidi also offers up her knowledge of sustainable farming practices to those in the area that want to start growing their own food, and plans on holding classes in the upcoming seasons on topics like making soaps and lotions from herbs and flowers. “The main thing is to educate and get people to listen to something a little different and come back to nature.”
RedTail farm has an open door policy; those interested in exploring what the Moir’s are doing are welcome to visit the farm to pick up some fresh produce, meet the farmers or assist on one of the many ongoing projects. Home delivery is available in Bend on Wednesdays and Redmond/Prineville on Saturdays.
“Our goal in farming is to honor the land and animals with integrity, creating sustainability that will improve the land over time. We believe that when you are respectful stewards of the soil, plants and animals with a long-term focus on sustainability, the environment is better for it and you produce a better product.”