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Getting to Know the Farmers at Winter Green Farm: Part One

My new book, Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement, spotlights 18 Oregon farms and farm supporters who are committed to a return to ecologically sound agricultural practices. This group reflects the diversity of people, both young and old, who are reshaping our state’s food system and reclaiming our right to eat well. In their stories you will hear how they came to be where they are, learn something about the challenges they face, and share their happiness at the successes they’ve enjoyed thus far.

The following profile, which has been excerpted from Planting A Future, features one of Oregon’s oldest and most successful biodynamic farms.

Jack Gray, Mary Jo Wade, Wali Via, and Jabrila Via came together at Winter Green Farm the way tributaries meet and combine on their way to something larger than themselves. In doing so, they helped cut a path that many of today’s new farmers are stepping into. There are a lot of ways to tell this story, but I think I’ll follow the sun west and begin back east in Atlanta, Georgia.

Wali Via was looking for something when, as a teenager, he ran away from his Georgia home. A lot of people were looking during the late sixties and early seventies. But regardless of the inciting incident, his search began in an intentional community (aka commune) in the Georgia countryside, and it was there he discovered an activity that would become the central element in his journey. That activity was organic farming.

Wali spent ten months discovering agriculture in that Georgia community before resuming his travels and ultimately settling in another intentional community near Deadwood, Oregon. The eight and a half years he lived and worked in the Deadwood community brought to fruition all of the seeds he had carried with him from his Georgia roots. He began to understand the nature of biodiversity and the rudiments of biodynamic farming. He also met the love of his life, Jabrila. And together, they had a child and began a family of their own.