Opportunities in Agriculture

A chicken standing on a fence.
The Oregon State University Small Farms Program offers valuable resources for farms in
Douglas County. Photo by Lynn Ketchum

Like its soils, Oregon’s history in agriculture is deeply rooted and full of rich culture.

Oregon has long been the site of excellent ground to grow quality crops. When the Missoula floods deposited soils in the state some 15,000 years ago, they left behind some of the most fertile soils in the world.

This legacy, in conjunction with Oregon’s Mediterranean climate, allows residents to grow a diversity of crops. Native volcanic soils and sloping hillsides have provided prime land for growing Christmas trees and a unique, renowned terroir for wine grape production.

Douglas County has had a large role in Oregon’s agricultural industry, producing a mix of crops and livestock, even before its official founding in 1852. In the 1800s, the county was a large wheat producer, helping to feed those in the mining industry and surrounding communities. Douglas County became a major exporter of turkeys, mainly in the Oakland area.

In the 1900s, the county became the nation’s largest grower of Moyer prunes. In conjunction with the rest of the state, the county became one of the largest producers of hops.

Throughout the years, crops and livestock have changed to meet the market’s needs. The rich soil of the Umpqua Valley is well-suited to produce melons.They became a popular crop to grow in the mid-1900s.

Douglas County was one of the first in Oregon to establish wine grapes, and some pioneer vineyards are still in business.

Processing facilities, wineries, dairies and festivals focusing on agricultural history have become part of the culture in Douglas County.

The Oregon State University Extension Service is a part of Douglas County’s agrarian upbringing. In 1950, a county extension agent named Wayne Mosher developed a variety of clover, exponentially increasing pasture acreage in the county.

This new crop meant more livestock, and a burgeoning sheep industry began in the county.

The Oregon State University Extension Service is still involved with county growers, providing science-based information, problem-solving and teaching, and creating networks in the community. The Oregon State University Small Farms Program is back in Douglas County, with Logan Bennett serving as a county extension agent. Logan graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management and a master’s in soil science. His thesis work focused on a pest-control method called soil solarization.

Previously, Logan worked in the agricultural sector as a crop scout and agronomist. He collaborated with growers in permanent cropping systems. He consulted on integrated pest management, pesticide and fertilizer recommendations, and cultural practices to maximize crop yield and return on grower investment.

Logan spent much of his time in the field, scouting crops for insect pests, fungal diseases and important crop growth stages. He worked on multiple crops, such as blueberries, cane berries, hops and cherries. He has worked with organic row crops with the Oregon State University Organic Growers Club, and specialty crops in organic and conventional systems.

Logan wants to hear from residents.

“I look forward to supporting growers by helping them manage disease and pest pressures, navigating through pertinent policies for farmers, fostering community and farmer-to-farmer networks, and strengthening the new and existing farms in Douglas County,” he says. “I want to know the challenges and opportunities that growers in the county are seeing, and create educational programming and resources for my community.”

To contact Logan, get directions to his office, call (541) 236-3015, or email Logan.