New C. Oregon Farm School to Teach Organic Farming Methods

Every year, Prineville's Dancing Cow farm gets about 200 to 250 calls and e-mails from people all over the country who want to come and learn how to grow vegetables and produce the beef, lamb and eggs the farm sells at farmers markets, said owner Sean Dodson.

"Right now, there just isn't a system in place to really meet any of those needs," he said. A new farm school in Central Oregon, however, hopes to change that.

Sarahlee Lawrence, of Rainshadow Organics just west of Terrebonne, and her neighbor, Sweet Medicine Nation, with the Four Winds Foundation, are starting up the Plots to Plates farm school this spring, with the goal of teaching people how to grow, harvest and market organic produce. There are a lot of people who want to learn about where their food comes from," Lawrence said. "And there's this building consciousness, it seems like, of people wanting to get closer to their food and understand where it comes from, and even maybe be farmers themselves."

As students, though, people can live and work on the farm, for anywhere from two weeks to six months between May 1 and Oct. 15. The school will cost $600 per month for people to live at Deer Haven farm next door, or $300 for two weeks, including room and board, Lawrence said. For people who want to commute, the cost will be $475 per month. Students will get a certificate of completion at the end of their study, she said.

Lawrence thinks people need an opportunity to try farming before they commit to it. "I'm just excited for people who want to come and be out here and learn, and be part of this community," Lawrence said.

Information from: The Bulletin