Sustainable Food & Farms
Can an environmental group be pro farm and pro environment? At the Oregon Environmental Council the answer is yes.
Why We Care
Oregon is renowned for the incredible bounty of food we produce. Many of our top chefs have built their reputation by showcasing the delicious foods grown and harvested locally. Oregonians are fortunate to have local farmers, ranchers, and fishermen who bring such a variety of fresh, delicious foods to our plates.
A sustainable food and farm system can improve our health through the availability of more local, fresh produce, reducing our exposure to harmful chemicals, reducing the risk of food-borne disease, and supporting the economic vitality and strength of Oregon’s communities.
Our food and agricultural system has a tremendous impact on the quality of our environment. Over 25% of Oregon's land is in agricultural production. The management of Oregon's agricultural lands can significantly impact, both positively and negatively, the quality of our rivers, air and wildlife. Food processing and distribution also affect our air and water quality through food transportation, packaging, and manufacturing processes.
- Oregon will become a leader in food production and farming that protects our health and our environment.
- Oregon's farmers and food businesses will flourish economically, and be rewarded for their stewardship of our rivers and water, air, and wildlife.
- Oregonians will have the opportunity to support local agriculture, and eat local, healthy, sustainably produced food as part of our everyday lives.
What We Do
The Oregon Environmental Council's Healthy Food and Farms Program has four key program areas:
We're pleased to announce the formation of Clearwater Cranberries, a collaborative of cranberry growers on Oregon's South Coast dedicated to environmentally friendly farming practices and preservation of a strong agricultural economy on the South Coast for future generations.
The name Clearwater Cranberries stands for a clear vision for the future and clean water in local rivers. OEC and the South Coast Watershed Council worked with trailblazing local cranberry farmers in the formation of this new collaborative, which is currently in the process of Food Alliance certification, and is seeking to provide their cranberries to local buyers in the Northwest.
Sustainable Food and Farm Policy
OEC has had a strong presence in Salem for many years, and has successfully advocated for state legislation that benefits agriculture and the environment. Recent successes include increasing funding for local community groups engaged in watershed restoration and environmental stewardship on agricultural lands, and supporting growth of a community-based biofuels industry in Oregon.
OEC’s current focus is ensuring that Oregon food and farm businesses have the resources they need to reduce rising energy and input costs, and meet the growing market demand for regional products that demonstrate environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Part of this strategy is the creation of a Center for Sustainable Food and Farm Systems within the Oregon University System to provide information, outreach, education, and research to assist today’s farmers and food businesses — and the next generation — in being leaders in a continually evolving marketplace.
Slowing Global Warming
In 2007, the Oregon Environmental Council, Governor Kulongoski’s office and the Oregon Wine Board joined together to develop the Carbon Neutral Challenge for Oregon Wineries and Vineyards, which assists wineries in assessing and reducing their carbon footprint by connecting them with expert consultation and incentives.
Thirty Oregon wineries and vineyards participated in the Carbon Neutral Challenge, demonstrating a commitment to energy conservation, clean energy, generating renewable energy on site, reducing carbon emissions, and buying carbon offsets.
Global Warming and Agriculture
OEC is convening a dialogue around the potential effects of global warming on Oregon agriculture, adaptation strategies, and ways agriculture can benefit from solutions to global warming by selling greenhouse gas reduction credits for emission reducing practices.
Building Common Ground
In 2002 OEC published the results of interviews with agriculturalists throughout Oregon about their relationship with environmentalists and opportunities to find common ground. These interviews formed the basis for the creation of OEC’s Healthy Food and Farms Program and still inform our collaborative approach.
In summer 2008 OEC published "Working on Common Ground: Interviews with Oregon Environmentalists" [PDF] a summary of interviews with prominent Oregon environmentalists focused on opportunities for working on common ground with the agricultural community. The study was authored by Peter Bloome, emeritus Associate Director of Extension at Oregon State University and a former OEC Board member.
How You Can Get Involved
Help us to ensure a healthy environment, strong economy, and thriving communities for the next generation. We invite your input and suggestions, and hope you'll consider supporting OEC's Healthy Food and Farms Program as a partner, volunteer, and member.