City kids by birth, Marieta and Brandon Easley now live a completely different, more down-to-earth lifestyle at their small vegetable farm, Slice of Heaven Farms near Sandy.
Marieta hails from San Fransisco and Brandon from New Orleans. The couple had no family background in farming, or much gardening experience, but decided in 2010 that they wanted to get their hands dirty and grow their own food.
"We taught ourselves to farm," Marieta Easley says. "It was kind of something we both wanted to do — grow our own food and live a healthy lifestyle."
The couple first planted their farming roots in Louisiana, before moving to Oregon three years ago.
"You have as yourself as a farmer metamorphasized," Brandon Easley says of his personal change in occupation. "You're in rhythm with the seasons, the sun. I enjoy bringing life forth. I hold a seed in my hands, and I know what it's going to be. There's a direct connection with beauty, transformation and finality as well."
The couple says getting used to the different climate when they uprooted and moved to the Northwest was somewhat challenging, but didn't keep them from thriving.
"Every place is different," Brandon Easley explains. "You drive a mile and it will be different. (The biggest challenge) was learning to live with the seasons and deal with cold temperatures."
They say they chose Sandy for its proximity to a large customer base. It's close to Portland, where they buy their compost, and they felt Sandy's school system would be good for their daughters.
"I take great pride in being able to hire people from Sandy," Brandon Easley notes. "We're trying to feed people."
The farm is at 43464 S.E. Phelps Road.
The Easleys sell their produce at Sandy's Mount Hood and Gresham Farmers Markets. They also operate a community supported agriculture (CSA) pick up from the farm, and have produce usually from May 1 through Nov. 1, corresponding with the seasons of the local markets.
Their CSA pickup is open from 4-6 p.m. every Wednesday, supplying them with much-needed funds for the farm and 62 local families with organic produce.
People sign up for a CSA membership in advance of the harvesting season, and can come weekly to pick up fresh goods, including eggs.
"Without those people, it would be very difficult to feed my family," Brandon Easley admits. "Essentially, they trust my vegetable growing skills to feed their families, even without the vegetables (being ready)."
Among the plants the Easleys grow are micro greens, lettuce, tomatoes, okra, carrots, onions, potatoes, eggplant, radishes, peppers — everything from arugula to zucchini, Brandon Easley asserts.
Because of an unexpected abundance of crops this year, the farm's CSA membership applications may become available again sometime soon, so be on the lookout.
A representative from Slice of Heaven Farms can be found at the Mount Hood Farmers Market every Friday from 3 to 8 p.m.
For more information about the farm and what it has to offer, visit www.sliceofheavenfarm.com.