Reclaiming space for small scale agriculture in Lincoln County, Oregon Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ff3658221

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  • As recent interest has grown in the connections between how food is produced, distributed and consumed, and the overall health of food systems for people and the environment, a movement toward localizing food systems has emerged. In Lincoln County, Oregon, citizens, restaurateurs and university extension faculty, among others, have started to examine ways a more locally based food system can be encouraged and strengthened. However, this research assessing the current Lincoln County food system quickly indicated that very little food consumed in Lincoln County was produced there. Where are the farmers of Lincoln County? This research uses qualitative and historic data to analyze Lincoln County's present and past farming and food system. The analysis indicates there are two major types of farmers extant in the area: the "old pioneers" with large acreages and family connections dating back to the homesteading period, and "new pioneers" with smaller acreages who grow food either for subsistence or for specialty markets. This typology arises from adaptive strategies: one to the conditions of an increasingly industrializing food system in rapid transition at mid 20th century, and the other adapting to new niches created as a result of gaps in a large-scale, globalizing food system. Historic records show a much stronger local food system during the first half of the 20th century, complete with processing capacity such as creameries and canneries. To illustrate the change that has occurred, this analysis uses Iowa as a paradigm-setting place of agricultural perfection with which a distinctly un-Iowa place like Lincoln County could not compete. Smallholding farmers either consolidated landholdings or left farming due to economic pressures resulting from the industrialized feedback loop of increasing production and declining value of food commodities which came to characterize the trajectory of American agriculture post World War II. Therefore, planning a localized food system in Lincoln County in the present ought to more properly be considered relocalization. The past conditions of agricultural production and processing in Lincoln County may provide a useful frame of reference for the transition from a cheap energy large-scale food system to one that is thriftier and smaller-scale.
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