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March 01, 2013

Speaker Announcement: Tyler Jones, Grow with Gusto
Category: 2013 Event, News, Speaker Announcements

Tyler Jones

In a state with 38,000 farms, most of which are 50 acres or smaller, people in Oregon have a definite chance to develop a more intimate relationship with their farmer. As a state we’re not a complete anomaly, but the trends of the past 60+ years in the farming industry have been to industrialize, consolidate, and modify.

That’s why it’s no surprise that new young farmers like Tyler and Alicia Jones are having such success by not just growing and selling their crop, but by earning the respect and rousing the curiosity of people who want to be more connected to their food. Tyler, who will be a speaker at TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) 2013, farms full-time with his wife, Alicia, at their Afton Field Farm in Corvallis, Oregon. They raise pastured poultry (eggs, broilers and turkeys), oak savanna pork, and grass-fed beef and lamb using multi-species rotational grazing. What the farm yields is sold to individuals at the Corvallis Farmers Market and to buying clubs from Eugene to Portland.

Farming is an interesting profession for young people to choose nowadays, but the timing couldn’t be more prudent. Thanks to food journalists and academics like Michael Pollan, and to the vibrant foodie culture that surrounds Portland and other progressive hot spots, people are more interested in what it is that they’re eating, where it’s been grown, how it’s been grown, and how it got to wherever it is they’re buying it. The general consensus is that the fewer steps removed you are from your famer, the better. Some ways to remove links in the supply chain from crop to crumb are to shop at farmers markets or join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and get a regular share of produce from a farm near you.

There are more than 160 farmers markets statewide, so for farmers like Tyler, the hardest part isn’t finding a sustainable avenue to sell crops, but learning how to actually farm it in the first place. In 2002 Tyler was an apprentice on Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia. What he brought back with him was the skill set necessary to set up an effective crop rotation with a multi-species system that is similar to Polyface Farm’s, as well as an invigorated sense of purpose and mission. “Acknowledging the delicately interconnected nature of food systems, we strive to minimize negative agricultural impact on land and health through integrated rotational grazing and foraging methods, organic and humane practices and focus on local markets,” says Tyler. “We are committed to challenge the raising of food in ways that are respectful to the soil, animals and local community.”

If there’s one thing about Portland’s culinary culture we can boast about, it’s that it embodies the feel of a much larger city in terms of variety, excellence and reverence for locality. The TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) planning team is especially thankful and excited that Tyler can find time away from the constant busy life at his farm and business to come to Portland and educate our attendees on his work and its importance for our foodie future.

Hunter Brookshier

Hunter Brookshier is a Portland, Oregon, based writer, marketer and musician. He’s passionate about grassroots communal organization and he loves the free market of ideas that TED and TEDx events and media help to spread. He’s thrilled to be part of this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland planning team. He’s one of several storytellers who will be sharing write-ups, interviews, and perspectives on the many extraordinary people from our surrounding community.