On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, when many Portlanders were still lost in the haze of leftover turkey sandwiches, a trio of Portland Farmers Market staffers hit the road for a one of a kind experience: a stewing hen harvest day at Persephone Farm. We invite you to follow their adventure through a series of posts over the next few days that capture the reality and intensity of life on the farm and the reverence that comes with butchering your own dinner.
Farm to Plate: Part I
By Anna Curtin, Amber Holland and Nicki Passerella
We recently took part in a stewing hen harvest day hosted by Jeff Falen and Elanor O’Brien at Persephone Farm, the land on which they have been farming organically for more than 20 years. In farming, Jeff and Eleanor work to create a closed loop ecosystem in rhythm with the seasons with minimal reliance on unsustainable external inputs like plastic greenhouses & gas powered farm equipment. The pair also values the opportunity to guide eaters closer to the land and food that sustain us, one of the driving forces behind the hen harvest day.
Journeying two hours south on Interstate 5 to reach the farm, located between Lebanon and Sweet Home, each of us was struck by the fact that Willamette Valley farmers who come to Portland’s many farmers markets make this monotonous trip all the time – week after week, season after season, year after year. After full-time farm work, off-farm work, and prepping for farmers markets, farmers get into their box trucks and hit the road to bring urban Portlanders the bounty of rural Oregon. The behind the scenes effort this entails was an excellent reminder to us to give thanks for the fresh, vibrant, and varied abundance we see at market each week.
As we made the turn into Persephone Farm, we were greeted by colorful rows of cool weather greens stretching out from both sides of the driveway. Luscious shades of green and purple guided our way to the harvest day work area, equipped with a chopping block, tables with canopies for protection from inclement weather (a sure thing on this dreary November day), and a propane burner on which pots of hot water would be heated to scald the hens before plucking. After being warmly greeted by Elanor, we pitched in with set up and got ready for what the day would bring.
To be continued…