Kelly Quaid, left, and Josh Cohen of Barking Moon Farm, stand in the field Cohen leases from Quaid for growing vegetables. - Photo by Jim Craven

Back to the Land

When Kelly and Cindy Quaid purchased and moved onto 10 acres zoned for exclusive farm use along the Applegate River about seven years ago, they were realizing a dream.

Both "city kids" from Huntington Beach, Calif., they yearned for a life closer to the land, where they could "develop the other side" of who they are while providing a healthful environment for their children.

Because EFU zoning requires a certain amount of the property to be used for income-generating agricultural practices, the Quaids maintained hay fields in addition to the gardens and orchards around their home. They own the water rights for the land and have an unlimited, year-round supply for irrigation, thanks to the nearby river.

After a couple years, however, they got bored with hay. That's when Cindy Quaid met Melissa Matthewson, a small-farms agent for Oregon State University Extension Service, at a meeting. Turns out, Matthewson and her husband, Josh Cohen, own Barking Moon Farm on Thompson Creek, and they were looking to expand.

"We'd run out of production room and, also, water isn't as abundant at our homestead," recalls Cohen. "We knew that to be successful we needed to move into some better soils with reliable water rights. It was serendipity that we met the Quaids."

The farmers now have two farm sites — their own property and three acres they lease from the Quaids — allowing them to specialize in different crops. On the Quaids' acreage between Highway 238 and the river, they grow 200 varieties of 60 different vegetables, and all of it gets sold through growers markets and their community-supported agriculture program.

Leasing the farmland "diversified and mitigated" their risk, says Cohen. The agreement also feeds the landowners' desire to support local sustainability efforts.

"It helps our land provide greater value for the citizens of this area, and it feels good to know we're putting that three acres to a better use," says Kelly Quaid. "These folks needed some land, and it was hard work figuring things out, but to combine their knowledge of organic farming with my land and water rights is a good marriage between these enterprises."

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