11 May 2011

Mission Possible

Article by Elizabeth Miller

When Art Poulos and Lucie Gouin first met in college, they knew they wanted to do something mutual, as Lucie says.  “Something with food.”

“In 2000,” she says, “we decided we wanted the full manual/outdoor/food experience: farming.”

Living in Scotland, and then London, they scoured a map of the United States to find the perfect location to begin their lives as farmers.  Seduced by a landscape boasting the lure of mountains, the ocean, valleys, and deserts, they decided on Oregon.  Four years later, Art and Lucie moved to the U.S. and three years after that, they found their perfect plot of land and settled in Scio, Oregon, with their young daughter.

Pastorally Yours, Lucie Gouin

One of the most important aspects of any land that Art and Lucie looked at was its history in farming and growing.  Art and Lucie are dedicated to farming in the most organic, sustainable, and healthy way imaginable, so it was of utmost importance that the land they bought for their farm had clean water and soil.  La Terra Vita is not only a certified organic farm, but it’s run using biodynamic principles, dictating that the entire ecosystem of the farm be as healthy as possible.

“The farm should aim to function as its own ecosystem,” explains Lucie, “where animals provide the manure for the crops and crops provide nutritious food for the animals to remain healthy. The ideal here would be self-sufficiency.  We think it makes a lot of sense to let our cow extract the calcium from grass to make our hens’ eggshells strong and their droppings rich in nitrogen.  When it all breaks down into potent compost, we all benefit through eating delicious nutrient dense vegetables.”

What’s most admirable about La Terra Vita is not just the fact that it is a working organic farm, but also that it serves as the sustainable homeland for Art and Lucie’s family.  The family of four heats their home with wood from the landscape’s trees, and the milk produced by the family’s cows is turned into homemade butter and cheese.  Even wild plants that are commonly regarded as botanical pests are put to good use: Lucie, Art, and their two children eat the nettles, dandelions, and wild blackberries that grow in their pastures and woodlands.

It is clear that Art and Lucie share not just a love of farming, but also a love of the land that surrounds them.  The fields that surround their farm have already been reseeded with a mixture of wild grasses and clover that have served as an attraction to elk, wild turkeys, and blue herons.  Future plans include restoring a wetland on their property, and creating a new riparian zone around the creek near their home.

House in the Country, (Lucie Gouin)

Starting on May 14th, Portland Farmers Market will welcome Lucie and Art into their community of vendors.  In keeping with La Terra Vita’s dedication to crop diversity and sustainability, farmers market patrons will be pleased to find offerings that run the gamut from French sorrel, mache, and filet green beans to wild-foraged nettles and wild blackberries.  In addition to offering a varied selection of organic vegetable staples (potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers), La Terra Vita will also be selling a seasonal salad mix consisting several varieties of lettuces and a secretly chosen blend of herbs and leaves.

Lucie and Art admit to being fanatical about food, and their satisfaction and delight in sharing that food is apparent from the affection and devotion they pour into their work.

“La Terra Vita is our calling and mission in life,” says Lucie.  “We feel it’s important to provide and inspire our community with wholesome produce grown with spirit.  We believe in what we do, and we want to do it right as a matter of honor and pride.”

Elizabeth Miller writes the great blog about food and life called Savory, Salty, Sweet