A Farmer’s Dozen

The “Ladies” of Ladies in the Fields

From left to right: Merrilee Buchanan-Benson, Hannelore Ondrusek, Lise Hubbe, Nancy Sowdon, Mindi Thorton, Alice Fairfield, Julia Sunkler, Scottie Jones, Andrea Davis, Rebecca Waterhouse (artist). Farmers not pictured: Jen Olsen, Luisa Ponzi, Karen Finley, Tommie Van de Kamp, Jan Neilson.

If you weren’t there, you sure missed out! August 9th, the Corvallis Slow Foods chapter put on a dinner at Tyee Winery in honor of the 13 women participating in the “Ladies in the Fields” portrait series. Yes, that’s right–13! Lucky number 13 and last in the series is Mindi Thorton of Kiger Island Blues. A blueberry and kiwi farmer, Mindi became a farmer after retiring from working as a communications engineer for Bank of America in the Bay Area, California. Click on the  “Paintings” tab to see her portrait.

Not everyone could make it to the dinner but the farmers that did are pictured here with the artist, a beautiful view of the Buchanan family century farm behind them. Chef Heidi Tunnell came up from Eugene and served a feast using products from farms featured in the portrait series as well as products from other local farms, and Tyee and Ponzi wines were available for sale and tasting. It was a lovely evening; a chance for the farmers, artist, and public to convene and celebrate the beauty that is local food.

The portraits will remain at the Tyee tasting room until the beginning of September, but this is the end of the series, for now at least. I am leaving in a couple of weeks to work for Sarah Lawrence College’s study-abroad program in Paris, where I will hopefully be able to start a new kind of series. The portraits are now for sale! Most have been sold already, but there are 5 left that need to go to good homes. They are pictured below. Portraits are 2’x3′ or 2’x2′ and are $600 each. Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a print, or would like a set of greeting cards with each of the farmer portraits ($20.00 +$3.00 shipping).

Many thanks go to Marilyn Henderson at Slow Food Corvallis for putting on such a wonderful event, to Tyee winery for hosting, to Heidi Tunnell for catering, and above all to the 13 women who provided me with such inspiration. Thank you all.

Andrea Davis of Kings Valley Gardens

Tommie van de Kamp of Queener Fruit Farm



Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards

Milking at Sweetwell Farm

Julia Sunders of My Pharm

Julia Sunders of My Pharm

Corvallis Portrait Tour

They’re up! Thanks to the kindness of local business owners, the twelve portraits have been placed in 12 different Corvallis businesses for the month of July. Take a look! Use the map below to find the locations of the portraits or follow this link: https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=217684796576679619712.0004c437418fc0b78b7e8

Portrait locations in Corvallis

Participating businesses include:

Avalon Wine: 201 Southwest 2nd Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 752-7418 http://www.avalonwine.com

Block 15 Brewing Co: 300 Southwest Jefferson Avenue, Corvallis, OR 97333 (541) 758-2077 http://www.block15.com

Les Caves:  308 Southwest 3rd Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 286-4473 http://www.beircaves.com

Corvallis Brewing Supply: 119 Southwest 4th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 758-1674 http://www.lickspigot.com

Del Alma Restaurant: 136 Southwest Washington Avenue #102,Corvallis, OR 97333, (541) 753-2222 http://www.delalmarestaurant.com

FireWorks Restaurant: 1115 Southeast 3rd Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 754-6958 http://www.fireworkscorvallis.com

Great Harvest Bread: 134 Southwest 1st Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 754-9960 http://www.greatharvest.com

Francesco’s Gelato: 208 Southwest 2nd Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 752-1326 http://www.francescosgelato.com

Luc Restaurant: 134 Southwest 4th Street, Corvallis, OR 97333
(541) 753-4171 http://www.i-love-luc.com

Mona Lisa’s Custom Framing & Prints: 133 Southwest 2nd Street, Corvallis, OR 97333, (541) 230-1998 http://www.monalisaspictureframing.com

North Point Fish Market: 151 Northwest Monroe Avenue, Corvallis, OR 97330
(541) 207-3503 http://www.northpointfishmarket.com

Terminus: 603 Northwest 2nd Street, Corvallis, OR 97330, (541) 286-4242 http://www.terminuscorvallis.com



Farmer #12!

Meet Andrea Davis, of Kings Valley Gardens.

Andrea owns and runs Kings Valley Gardens jointly with her husband, John. Located west of Corvallis in Kings Valley, their farm is also near a small charter school whose certified kitchen Andrea is able to use for making her fruit spreads, which she sells year-round. She and John focus on self-sufficiency, growing as much of what they eat as they can while still selling enough to make a living.

Andrea is originally from Connecticut. She eventually ended up in San Francisco, and a few years later applied to the University of Oregon, where she created her own major in environmental science. It was there that she became inspired to start her own farm. Andrea moved to Portland and worked as a paralegal for several years. Then she met John, and together they were able to buy the farm in Kings Valley. Success, however, was slow to come. Andrea first tried her hand at growing cut-flowers. The short growing season and poor market made it impossible to earn enough money, however. John, who had noticed the neglected blueberry bushes on their property, suggested that they try a more fruity approach to agriculture. They watered and pruned these bushes and were rewarded with heavy crops and a decent profit.

Andrea and John now grow a variety of fruit crops, but only the blueberries are sold fresh at markets. The rest is made into jams and jellies by Andrea. They also take on quite a number of Wwoofers, (volunteer farm workers from World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program) and Andrea says she couldn’t do the farming without them. The Wwoofers, in the meantime, learn a lot under the guidance of John and Andrea.

I had started Andrea’s portrait last fall before leaving for France and regrettably didn’t have time to finish it in the rush of packing and preparing for the trip. I’m back for the summer, though, and Andrea’s painting is the first thing I did. To see the rest of the farmers series, please click on the “paintings” tab.



Ladies in the Fields

For several months now, I’ve been working on a series of portraits of women farmers. I love it! Agriculture has always been an interest of mine. Combine that with portraiture and a women’s college education, and this is what you get. The farmers are all located in northwest Oregon. Their products range from mushrooms to fruits to goats cheese. These women have been extremely kind, allowing me to visit them and hear their stories while I steal a few pictures to take home and paint. I am interested in learning about how they got started, how their businesses developed over the years, and what obstacles they have come up against as women and as farmers. I have visited 12 farmers on their farms: Jennifer Olsen of The Mushroomery, Julia Sunkler of My Pharm, Alice Fairfield of Fairfield Farm, Lisa and Nancy Hubbe of Sweetwell Farm, Tommie van de Kamp of Queener Fruit Farm, Jan Neilson of Fraga Farm, Luisa Ponzi of Ponzi Vineyards, Karen Finley of Queen Bee Honey Company, Scottie Jones of Leaping Lamb Farm, and Merrilee Buchanan Benson of Tyee Wine Cellars, Hannelore Ondrusek of Price Creek Family Farm, and Andrea Davis of Kings Valley Gardens. You can see some of their portraits below:

Oil on canvas, 2x2

Oil on canvas, 2x2

Oil on canvas, 2x2

The paintings will be on display for about a year after completion of the series. Then paintings will be for sale. In the meantime, please contact me if you would like to buy a print.