Spotlight: Beavercreek Demonstration Farm

South_wall-April2016Hamlet residents are likely familiar with the 15-acre farm located at 22055 S Beavercreek Road (the sign says Roaring Creek Ranch). The Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD) acquired the historic farm in June 2013 with the intention of turning it into a “demonstration farm,” a working farm that can be used to demonstrate a wide range of techniques that can help small farms better manage their renewable resources. Providing hands-on learning opportunities is a key part of their strategy.

The property includes a century-old barn and farmhouse, various outbuildings, a wood lot, two ponds, and several grass fields. For the past several decades, it has been used to raise llamas and alpacas.

“We want to retain the delightful rural character of the farm,” said Tom Salzer, General Manager, CSWCD. “That means, at minimum: maintaining the grass fields; preserving the old barn; maintaining the large pond; and keeping as many trees as possible.”

Their planning process has been methodical, starting with five key questions:

  • What do we have? Gather information about soil, plant, and water resources. Inventory and evaluate all buildings. Develop understanding of the two ponds and how they interact with other waters.
  • What could we do here? Use what we learn as sideboards as we envision what the farm could become. Seek public involvement as we begin to see what could be done.
  • What should we do? Use our values and input from others to move from what we could do to what we should do. This is a transition from concepts to designs.
  • What will we do? This is the final design phase.
  • When will we do it? If permitting and financing are required, those actions would occur at this stage.

The same questions can be applied to your own homestead, and it’s the mission of CSWCD to help farm owners maximize use of renewable resources on their property while conserving natural resources.

They’ve already seen some success from their efforts at the Beavercreek Demonstration Farm. After improving the soil with fertilizer, lime, water, mulch and rest, CSWCD hayed the fields in 2016 producing 1,018 bales of grass hay from three different two acre fields. This is significantly more hay than has been produced on the farm.

Additional improvements include adding riparian components to the stream and pond, controlling invasive species, improving the irrigation system, fixing fences, adding pollinator habitats, repairing the house, conducting a fish survey, fertilizing, and much more.

CSWCD has been making improvements to the century-old barn including posts and the roof. In 2016 and early 2017, they began making structural repairs to the south wall including bracing the structural members using posts, brackets, and cables. Then they began to uncover the south wall of the barn to determine the extent of damage to structural members. When uncovering the rest of the south wall, they round that rot from the main beam extended to the center of the barn, as well as powderpost beetle damage throughout. Now that the wall is uncovered, they will be replacing main structural members and then they will clad the wall with a new board-and-batten skin. Once repairs are completed, they may use a borax-based solution to inhibit future damage by the powderpost beetle.

Their website includes a log of what they’ve been doing since 2013, including lots of great tips for farm owners looking to improve their own homesteads. There are also several ways residents can participate in the renewal of Beavercreek Demonstration Farm: volunteer, share a special talent (woodworking, apple tree specialist, electrician, etc!), donate money or materials for a tax deduction, fence repair, home repair, and more. You can see a list of materials and ways to participate at http://www.farm.conservationdistrict.org and click “SUPPORT THE FARM.”

Stay tuned for more updates coming from CSWCD later this year. Questions can be sent via a link on their website or by calling 503-210-6000.

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