Local market draws sustainable practices of Banks Root Farm

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Violet, the 5-year-old daughter of Roots Farm owners Megan Valle and Aaron Powers, stands in front of the familys booth at the Forest Grove Farmers Market.The young and ambitious Roots Farm has sprouted over the past season at the Forest Grove Farmers Market, a program of the nonprofit Adelante Mujeres — and continues to blossom this year.

Megan Valle, Aaron Powers and their three daughters moved to a 1.3-acre property in 2010 on the flood plains in Banks. Though they’ve always had a big garden, 2012 was their first season selling fresh produce and wildflower art at the market.

“It comes from a real love of plants and food — I grew up out in the country and my dad always had a garden,” said Valle. “My mom has a green thumb, so our house was always filled with houseplants.

“Aaron’s father has a lifetime of nursery experience ... and both of us are happiest when we get to be outside,” she added.

Despite its growing popularity, the average age of a farmer in the United States is about 57, according to the USDA — so Valle, 34, and Powers, 31, are a bit of a rarity. They also had to earn their way into the profession, because each has a full-time job outside of farming: Valle works at McMenamins Grand Lodge and Powers is a sous chef at Pacific University.

“Aaron takes care of the soil and I take care of the plants. We do everything ourselves with help from our three daughters and we are building our farm year by year through composting and hard work,” noted Valle. “Being broke has also helped us to be more efficient, creative, and [to] use what we have.

“We have become much better at growing our own starts without a greenhouse, and every year we save more seed.”

Not only does the family’s hard work shine through, but also the choice they’ve made to use sustainable practices. “We take great pride in knowing that our produce is safe, chemical free, beautiful, healthy, delicious — and began from good seed sources,” Valle said.

“We only buy from organic companies or companies with a non-GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) pledge. Our goal is to increase the health and life in our soil so we can provide the best possible product,” she noted. “That’s why we are Roots Farm, because not only are we growing our roots and our daughter’s roots, but we are committed to healthy soil as the foundation for everything else.”

Market-goers can find Roots Farm produce at the Forest Grove Farmers Market every Wednesday through October on Main Street downtown.

— Kaely Summers is the manager of the Forest Grove Farmers Market.

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