WFFC Logo, Lane Food, Lane County, Oregon

Willamette Farm & Food Coalition

About the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition

MISSION

The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition facilitates and supports the development of a secure and sustainable food system in Lane County, Oregon.

VISION

We envision a secure and sustainable food system as one in which our farms are economically viable, our agricultural lands are supporting a much larger percentage of Lane County’s food needs, and all members of our community have access to fresh local foods.

We believe that a strong local food system contributes to the integral health of our entire community and we work to facilitate greater understanding of the social, economic, and environmental impacts of our food choices.

WFFC promotes the purchase of locally grown and produced foods:

  • to keep valuable agricultural land in production
  • to ensure the economic viability of farms
  • to benefit public and environmental health
  • to strengthen our local economy

HISTORY

Since our incorporation in 2000, the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition has drawn on our networking roots of a local food community that has been organizing for 30 years. Our earliest incarnation was the Edible City Resource Center. ECRC incorporated in 1979 with the broad mission of promoting urban gardening and increasing awareness of food related issues. For 18 years, ECRC activities supported the individual passions and work of members. ECRC volunteers published the Edible City Resource Manual, a guide demonstrating how to revitalize urban communities through sustainable development approaches.

In 1993, two local EarthSteward Network volunteers who were promoting worm composting in local schools decided to expand their work and begin a newspaper. The Worm Digest approached the Edible City Resource Center and asked to be part of our organization. The Digest was welcomed under our non-profit umbrella because the missions of both organizations were aligned at that time.

In three years the Worm Digest grew from an 8-page to a 32-page newspaper with 1,100 subscribers from all around the world. The Worm Digest is now its own organization with staff and a website (http://www.wormdigest.org) and is based in Ohio.

In 1998, a committed group of board members and volunteers, including Worm Digest founders, farmers, educators and activists began to meet regularly to explore the history of ECRC and to take a critical look at our future as an organization. In 1999, the board reached out to the community to help us identify community needs and build collaboration. In early 2000 volunteers and board members surveyed 40 Lane County producers, processors, retailers, restaurateurs, and other institutions and organizations in person and by telephone. We gathered their concerns, ideas and suggestions for developing a stronger local food and agriculture system that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and just. In the summer of 2000, we established a more focused mission statement and updated our by-laws. We also legally changed our name to the Lane County Food Coalition and elected a new board with diverse members representing those we aim to serve.

In 2005 the Coalition hired its first staff, and changed its name again to the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. This name better suits those we serve and our geographic home (not to mention diffusing the confusion that we are associated with a county agency, which we are not).

Board of Directors

Harper Keeler

Harper Keeler, President
University of Oregon, Urban Farm

As a kid growing up on the outskirts of New York City, I was exposed to a terrific array of ethnic traditions and learned early the value of sharing and celebrating these traditions, especially as they related to food. Jewish delis with proper bagels, Italian butcher shops where the guys with the knives were also great cooks, real pizza… you get the picture. All these years later, what continues to resonate with me is the actual joy food brings to those who produce, prepare and share it together. From farmers and grocers to teachers, chefs and local eaters - food is the social glue that holds us together and I’m terribly proud of the work we are doing as part of this tasty gastronomic fabric. Being able to live and work in a community that holds this quintessentially human activity in such high regard brings great joy and pushes me to do the work that I do.

   
Erica Trappe

Erica Trappe, Vice President
Sweetwater Farm and Nursery

   
Bret Parzuchowski, Treasurer
Farwest Steel
 
   
Jessica Blaine, Secretary
Marché Restaurant & Provisions
 
   
Paul Atkinson

Paul Atkinson
Laughing Stock Farm

Born in Lane County, I’ve been following my father’s quest toward a “self-sufficient” family farm all my life. The idea that a family or a community will reach its maximum security when all food, energy and shelter required comes from within the bounds of the land we care for, propels my “Life’s Work”. Having lived nearly 50 years on the same farm, I can say I have begun to see what might be sustained here. And I enjoy nothing more than sharing a community grown meal with those that share this vision.

   
Micah Elconin

Micah Elconin
Food Business Consultant

I’m often asked, “Why do you like to cook?”  The answer is simple.  I like to eat.  Perhaps the only thing better than a quality meal shared with friends is knowing that many, if not all, of the ingredients in that meal were grown/produced by friends in the local area.  And while enjoying the full fresh seasonal flavor of this local food, I can’t help but smile knowing that my meal is contributing to the economic and environmental health of my community.  Food is fun.  Health is fun.  Life is fun.

   
Marjory Hamann

Marjory Hamann
Executive Director, Elkton Community Education Center

When I moved from Portland to rural Lane County two years ago I started connecting with local farmers.  My partner and I had been members of a CSA and had a small garden, but spending time on family-scale farms deepened my understanding of the intimate connection between our personal health, the health of our rural economy, and the land.  I love local food because it can nourish us on so many levels - from the personal pleasure of growing your own tomatoes, to the farmers that are such a vital part of our economy, to the advocates that are changing food policy so that fewer people experience hunger in a state that grows food in abundance.  Food brings us together, and gives us a common language for building strong communities.

   
Amy McCann

Amy McCann
Local Food Market Place

I envision a food system where people know how to eat seasonally, choose to eat local food because it makes them healthier and contributes to a resilient community, and where a person doesn't have to choose highly processed food due to budget or convenience.

   
Kory Northrup

Kory Northrup
Web Developer

One aspect of local food that I cherish is the way that it can build and strengthen communities. Until coming to the Willamette Valley, I had no connection to the food I ate nor to those who nurtured the land to grow that food. I never shared a home-cooked meal with John W. Tyson or swap recipes with Betty Crocker; they always seemed ethereal and distant. However, these types of interactions are possible, frequent even, within a smaller, local food system. We can ship food all over the world, but the joys of picking blueberries on your friend's farm or trading homebrew for a heritage turkey cannot be transported as far.

   
Jane Yates

Jane Yates
Watkinson Laird Rubenstein

My family didn't have much money and wasn't very sophisticated, but we always appreciated food in context of its time and place. It seems obvious to say that everything tastes better when it's in season and consumed close to its source, but it's true.  I love local food because of its flavor and what that flavor evokes.  Local food captures the poetry of a moment: the summer sun in a bright red tomato, the spring grass in a tender lamb chop, the fall chill in sweet, crisp kale.  It tastes good, it's good for me, and it makes me feel good about supporting local farmers and food producers. 

 

Staff

Lynne Fessenden

Lynne Fessenden
Executive Director

 
Megan Kemple

Megan Kemple
Farm to School Program Director

My experience includes non-profit program management, teaching in classroom and outdoor settings, and knowledge of local food systems. I am passionate about educating kids about where food comes from and working to create a healthy local food system. I have six years of experience building a successful Farm to School Program in Lane County and am now helping others to do the same. I serve as Oregon’s state lead for the National Farm to School Network, providing technical assistance and support to farm to school programs throughout Oregon. I also serve as co-lead of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network.

   
Maria Paladino

Maria Paladino
Development Director

I’m a lifelong activist and advocate for social justice, and have lived and worked in our beautiful Oregon for over twenty years. Fundraising for social change is one of my favorite ways to contribute to creating a more just and equitable world. Prior to joining the staff of WFFC, I served as Development Director at the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, and as the Executive Director at Sexual Assault Support Services. I’m dedicated to helping to build a local community that finds strength in inclusiveness and sustainability, and I see food systems work as a vital intersection where the social, environmental, and economic justice issues that I feel passionately about come together.

   
Molly Bullock

Molly Bullock
Farm to School Education and Family Outreach Coordinator

A Boston native, I arrived in the Willamette Valley 5 years ago and fell in love with the forests, mountains and fertile soils of Oregon. Over the past several years I have worked on commercial organic farms in both Argentina and Oregon. Before coming to WFFC, I worked for the FOOD for Lane County Gardens Program, coordinating the Churchill Community Garden. As lover of both cooking and eating I have a deep appreciation for food grown with respect for our earth and the people on it. I believe everyone has a right to healthful food and I am passionate about educating youth and adults alike about how to access and enjoy local healthy foods.

   
Jonathan Fryer

Jonathan Fryer
Farm to School Education and Family Outreach Coordinator

I was born and raised in the southern Willamette Valley, and feel a very strong connection to my home. I see working as an advocate for strengthening our local food system as the most important, impactful, rewarding, and tasty work that one can do with their time. I believe that educating elementary students on where their food comes from in their classrooms, and demonstrating the bounty of good clean food that our area can provide through farm field trips and tasting tables, is truly important as we raise the future stewards of our land.

   
Leisha Wood

Leisha Wood
Buy Local Campaign Coordinator
Co-Manager, Eugene Local Foods

I was raised here in this valley and I have always loved the fruits of it. I have studied sustainable food systems at the U of O and have a background in outreach and public education, formerly working as the Education Coordinator for BRING Recycling and as a volunteer facilitator for the Agent of Change program. I believe in the immense power that food has to heal or wound, to nourish or starve, depending on our choices. I see food system work as the nexus where human health, land preservation, environmental restoration, and social equity meet, and I am passionate about inspiring others to make choices that protect these concerns. I also just love food. If I am not eating it I am thinking about it – so where better for me to be?

   
Claire Schechtman

Claire Schechtman
OSSC AmeriCorps Educator with Farm to School

I moved to Eugene in 2009 and have been living in the southern Willamette Valley bio-region ever since. I recently completed my undergraduate degree in International Studies at the University of Oregon, focusing in community development and food justice in the US and Latin America. Inspired by the tradition of community alive in rural Latin America, I hope to work with regional food hubs, local cooperatives, and educational programs in the Pacific Northwest in effort to increase food access to low-income families. As the AmeriCorps Farm to School educator, I am thrilled to continue serving the Eugene area that I love so dearly. Lately, I've spending my time learning Spanish, pursuing my interest in bodywork and healing at massage school, and small-scale subsistence farming with my friends at The Ant Farm.

   
Xanna Burg

Xanna Burg
FoodCorps service member with Farm to School

Since moving to Oregon, I have fallen in love with the mountains, the culture, and the fertile land of the northwest. I come to WFFC and FoodCorps with a nutrition background having studied Dietetics and Local Food Systems in college and then served as a Nutrition Educator at a food bank in Clark County, WA. I’m here because I believe that food has the power to connect all of us and build up strong, local communities. I dream of a world where all kids grow up knowing what healthy food is, where it comes from, and are excited about eating it and caring for the land where it’s produced.