Swingletree Farm is 25 acres of hill and dale in the French Prairie region of the northern Willamette Valley near the historic town of Aurora, Oregon. Our land features diverse habitat types to support multiple niches of production: floodplain supports lush pasture and fertile gardens, south-facing slopes elevate the orchards above the frost pockets of the lowland and make full use of the sun, and mature Douglas-fir forest offers opportunities for mushroom and native edible cultivation, as well as bird and wildlife habitat, and a peaceful place for rest and repair.
Who We Are
We are Kim and Breckenridge, a pair of hopeful and idealistic farmers inspired by the Local Food Movement and the concept of safe, healthy, and wholesome food produced at human scales in a manner that minimizes impact to the environment and maximizes animal welfare.
Kim has always been fueled by a passion for the natural world and, even as a youngster growing up in the city, would seek it out however possible. She is especially compassionate for animals, and became a vegan and animal welfare advocate at age 8, when she learned of the horrors of industrial animal agriculture. Though technically no longer vegan, she will only eat animal products she produces herself, as she can be sure of the proper and humane treatment of the animals. Kim worked many years as veterinary technician in animal shelters and continues to be active in animal rescue and rehabilitation. She has been avid gardener and home canner throughout her adult life and has raised layer hens for over 8 years. Kim earned a degree in environmental science and management, becoming a wetland ecologist for a small Portland firm that specializes in environmental restoration (another ardent passion of hers). However, making her livelihood from the land is her utmost dream come true, and Kim's humane animal husbandry skills, knowledge of plant biology, and understanding of ecological systems are put to good use on the farm.
Breck has nursed his own farm dreams since he was a very young man, growing up in southern Appalachia (North Carolina). He worked on tobacco farms in the American South and on organic farms on the West Coast (including Molino Creek Farm in Santa Cruz County, CA and Middleton Farms in Josephine County, OR working alongside Amando Barzola Hidalgo) until he realized that money earned as a farm laborer was never going to afford him a farm of his own! To that end, he returned to school, earned his law degree at Seattle University, and eventually came to make his living as a small-town civil lawyer in Canby, Oregon. Breck contributes his business expertise, farming knowledge, a calm and steady manner, and a sincere desire to better his community to our farming enterprise.
Our Farming Philosophy
Our goal is to create a self-sustaining “farm ecosystem” that is diverse, resilient, and adaptable. We draw from a number of concepts and disciplines including ecology, permaculture, and organic farming, along with a smattering of intuition, some trial and error, and traditional folk knowledge, based on the kind of connection many of our grandparents and great-grandparents had with the land. Our farm model continues to evolve as we learn and grow and we aim to take as many lessons as we can from the plants and animals and natural forces we work with every day. But, some things will continue to stay central to our mission, no matter what. These include:
We pledge to be conscientious and diligent stewards of our beautiful land and produce food in a manner that minimizes our impact to natural resources. While third-party organic certification is cost prohibitive at our current scale, certification is a long-term goal, and in the meantime, nothing is stopping us from adhering to organic standards of production! We are also committed to the restoration, enhancement, and protection of the natural habitats on the farm, which include wetland, riparian, and instream habitat as well as upland Douglas-fir forest. To this end, we apply the following management practices:
No synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on our crops or in our pastures
No genetically modified plants or animals (GMOs)
Commercial rations fed to livestock are organic where possible, locally produce, and non-GMO
We strive for diversity and resilience: We raise many varieties of plant and animal to ensure some resistance to disease, weather, and predators. Thus, a flourishing bounty no matter the conditions!
Multi-species rotational grazing to reduce impacts to our pasture, control disease and parasites, and manage nutrient loading
"Closed" animal groups to the extent practicable to prevent disease and promote good farm biosecurity
Goats for weed control: we have a lovely little herd that just LOVE to eat invasive Himalayan Blackberry and other weeds!
Natural pest control: We install bat houses, as well as kestrel and barn owl nest boxes to encourage them to take up residence on the farm and help keep rodent and insect populations under control
Ecological restoration: We are dedicated to enhancing the natural habitats of the farm including Douglas-fir forest, riparian, and wetland habitats by removing invasive plant species and planting natives
Draft Power: We use donkey draft power instead of internal combustion engines where possible
We pledge to adhere to the highest standards of animal welfare. We have adopted the standards of the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) program, the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare and environmental sustainability in the U.S. This means:
Our animals receive ample outdoor space, sunshine, natural food, and are able to engage in natural behaviors
Docking, disbudding, beak trimming, ear or toe notching, or any other non-critical bodily mutilations are not performed; pain management and veterinary oversight is applied should a surgical procedure be medically necessary
The natural cycles of animals are not manipulated (e.g. forced molting, unnatural light regimes, food deprivation, hormonal therapies) to optimize production at the expense of the animal's welfare
Medications, such as antibiotics or chemical dewormers, are only used when necessary to maintain animal well-being and with veterinary consultation
Stress and pain minimization techniques are employed during all handling, transport, and slaughter activities
Trillium and yellow stream violets growing in the understory of our Douglas-fir forest
Goats clearing invasive Himalayan blackberry from the old orchard
Douglas fir forest on the farm
Senecal Creek at flood stage
Truly free-ranging laying hens
Pastured ranger chickens: A slower-growing and healthier breed of meat chicken well-suited to pasture production