Amaranth Produce, Inc., is located at the top of the hill, 5209 West Burnside, in Portland, between the Burnside Tunnel and Mt. Calvary Cemetery. As of 2009, I am a CSA although I prefer the term “subscription farm”.
CSA is an acronym for "Community Supported Agriculture." It originated as a way for a small community to help their local farmers by, in essence, promising to buy his product. Customers sign up for a "share", paying for the season up front, and receive a container of fresh produce once a week. This arrangement ensures that the farmer gets his money at the time he needs it most—when the season starts—and is able to work his farm without worry: any uncontrollable crop failures will not hurt his livelihood. Customers get a commitment from the farmer that he will do his best because they have trusted him with their money, and they receive the freshest, seasonal food that money can buy, straight from the source, week in and week out. Often with larger CSAs, the farmer brings the weekly boxes into town for pick up; some farms allow visitors or u-pick, or exchange labor for produce.
With Amaranth Produce, customers come to my centrally located farm to pick up their baskets; the day and time is negotiable. Payment can be made then, or on a monthly or seasonal basis, whatever is easiest. For subscription information, check my sign up page.
I started off with only 6 shares my first year, and will not be increasing it yet, since I maintain a very small farm. While our property totals 5 acres, I am only able to use about half an acre to farm. This is a benefit, in that I get to do all the work that I love and don't have to manage or pay anyone. It also forces me to grow with biointensive techniques, which I find fascinating and challenging. The drawbacks include doing all the work myself, with no assistants. I am currently only able to provide enough for the 6 families already subscribed. If successful, I hope to increase the number in upcoming years. I have a waiting list in case I am able to increase my subscriptions, but it, too, is full. Watch my sign up page for future details.
For other questions, please feel free to email me or drop by some sunny Friday.
I began Amaranth in the summer of 2001, selling extra produce to my husband's co-workers and other friends. The interest and demand grew steadily, and I opened for retail sales in the spring of 2002, intending to focus on commuting traffic that passed our driveway (26,000 cars daily!). I created a website in 2005, and by linking up with a site called LocalHarvest.org, I’ve been able to reach people from all around Portland and beyond.
I got 5 chickens for eggs and to supplement my soil in 2003, 3 more in 2004, and the flock grew by 30 the following year. Because of this, eggs from my farm have become very popular. In spite of a dog attack in May of 2008 that killed 24 birds in one night, I maintain a flock of various breeds that provide white, beige, brown and blue eggs.
I also have goats, one of whom I milk for our family’s dairy supply. They are all very friendly and curious, and will usually greet visitors.
All these animals serve to keep my compost piles full and hot, thus providing a nice, steady stream of fabulous compost that I use year ‘round to amend my 30+ raised beds. They keep me busy milking and collecting eggs, and make great company while I’m out working.
I have two honey bee hives, having split my original hive in 2011, and plan to harvest honey to include in my shares.
I have been approached by, and sold to, various restaurants, but because of the size of my growing area, I am not able to provide enough produce for large scale food service. I have sold produce to smaller servers, which once included Catlin Gabel School. However, even that is more than I can grow easily, and I try to just focus on my CSA.
I am also a regular contributor to Hobby Farms and Urban Farm Magazines, and my field and garden has been featured many times in articles and photographs over the last few years. Many of the photographs there and on this website are from my friend, Rhoda Peacher, a professional photographer (rphotographs.com), who has contributed to my small scale fame.