Farm to plant truffles
CAMP CREEK: A agricultural commodity, with the potential to rival the current value of Oregon’s lucrative wine industry could soon take root locally. This year, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has awarded $1.49 million in federal funds to 22 diverse projects, including establishing a demonstration three-acre truffle orchard at the Berggren Demonstration Farm.
Photo courtesy Cascade Pacific
Current crops crops at the Berggren Farm range from salad green to beans as well as herbs and root crops.
Just like French wine grapes, Oregon has the climactic conditions required for truffle production. The state is one of just three places in the world with its own native truffles and has a six-decade legacy of truffle research, giving us a strong competitive advantage in developing a reputation as the ‘truffle capital’ of North America.
Annual truffle commerce is expected to exceed $6 billion within the next two decades, rivaling many other agricultural commodities traded worldwide. It’s anticipated cultivated and native truffles produced in Oregon could annually exceed $200 million in direct sales income.
“A majority of Oregon’s agricultural production comes from specialty crops, so this is truly an important federal program that has a direct, positive impact on our growers,” says ODA Director Katy Coba. “The program is a reminder of the need for Congress to pass the new Farm Bill so that Oregon and other states can count on future projects that keep our specialty crops competitive.”
“By investing in projects that stimulate growth and development for specialty crop growers of all sizes, we’re helping American farmers establish a marketplace for new businesses opportunities in each region of the country,” says US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These investments will support local and regional markets, and improve access to healthy food for millions of children and supply thousands of farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. The grants also help growers solve technology needs or make better informed decisions on profitability and sustainability, leading to stronger rural American communities and businesses.”
Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation & Development received the ODA grant. It will fund the demonstration orchard and farmer training opportunities at the Berggren Demonstration Farm, a 92-acre piece of property on the lower McKenzie River near Walterville that encompasses approximately 30 acres of farmland and 50 acres of riparian zones. The McKenzie River Trust is the land owner, while EWEB is responsible for the funding, planning, oversight and programming of the agricultural area and associated activities. Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation and Development is the fiscal agent for farm operations.