Plenary: Successful Organic Farmers

Commemoration . . .
Join us as we remember those in the ecological agriculture movement who have passed away.

Successful Organic Farmers

The Successful Organic Farmers plenary is an annual tradition at EcoFarm! This year’s crop of farmers will talk about what they do, why they do it, and what they’ve learned along the way.

Irene and Evan Engber
Irene’s Garden and Bioengineering Associates, Laytonville, CA

Irene and Evan are original members of the Hog Farm, the fabled 60’s hippie commune. Irene began growing organic vegetables 25 years ago without any experience or training, for Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow, a circus performance camp for teenagers. Irene has expanded from farming 1 acre by hand to 6 acres of veggies with the aid of tractors and friends, plus 1 acre of cider apples. Her specialties include garlic, potatoes, cabbage and lettuce. Thirty years ago, Evan read a 1920s book on natural stream restoration. Inspired but without experience, he tried the book’s techniques on the creeks that run through Black Oak Ranch, so degraded by logging and erosion that they no longer supported historic salmon and steelhead runs. His success at healing these creeks (the fish came back!) led him to a career as one of California’s most respected river restoration specialists, applying his form of magic to dozens of North Coast river sites; providing greatly improved water conditions for fish and wildlife, while protecting farmland from erosion.

Craig McNamara
Sierra Orchards and the Center for Land-Based Learning, Winters, CA

Craig McNamara is the owner and farmer of Sierra Orchards, a 135 acre diversified farming operation, established in 1980, that produces and processes organic walnuts and olive oil, . He is the co-founder and president of the Center for Land-Based Learning, an innovative program assisting over 2,000 high school students annually to become lifelong learners, overcome barriers to change, and build greater social and human capital in their communities. Craig is President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, a board member of American Farmland Trust, and other agricultural and educational organizations.

Michael Phillips
Lost Nation Orchard, Groveton, NH

Michael and his wife Nancy farm in the mountains of Northern New Hampshire with their local community in mind. With about 300 apple trees, cultivated and wildcrafted herbs, and some garlic in the mix, they strive not only to produce a variety of farm-based products, but to share what they know about fruit trees and herbs through classes, community days on the farm, consultations, and writing. Michael’s books include The Apple Grower: A Guide for the Organic Orchardist and The Holistic Orchard: Growing Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way. Michael serves as coordinator for the Holistic Orchard Network, organized to facilitate much needed grower-inspired research on orchard health.