Producer Working Groups

Gorge Grown supports several groups of farmers and ranchers engaged in building communities of practice called producer working groups.  Producer working groups are informal gatherings of farmers and ranchers that come together to share information on common challenges and find collaborative solutions to regional problems.

Two running hens

Working groups are centered loosely on different agricultural products and are meant to serve as a supportive space that allows for networking, resource-sharing, and cooperation on larger projects. The end goal in facilitating producer working groups is to create self-sustaining informal associations that equip growers with knowledge, skills, and tools they need to succeed. Gorge Grown facilitates several producer working groups focused on key production niches to work toward solutions for our unique regional challenges. For more information or to join a Producer Working Group, email info@gorgegrown.com.

Why participate in Producer Working Groups?

Producer working groups are a tried and proven method of improving success rates of growers who participate and conditions for regional agricultural business in general. Noted benefits from a producer working group project conducted by Value Chain Partners in Iowa included:

  • A place for farmers and ranchers to share knowledge, advice, and news
  • Access to niche-specific workshops and speakers locally!
  • Identifying and implementing opportunities to work together on projects of mutual benefit
  • Investing pooled resources, including monetary support, supplies, and equipment 
  • Collaborative searches for project funding

Producer Working Group Project Partners?

Gorge Grown is fortunate to have a host of knowledgeable and connected project partners who help make producer working groups useful for all growers who participate.

  • Washington State University Extension
  • Oregon State University Extension
  • Underwood Conservation District
  • Wasco County Soil & Water Conservation District
  • The Next Door / Nuestra Communidad Sana

There are several Producer Working Groups each with a unique focus?

The Latino Farmers PWG is facilitated in cooperation with Nuestra Communidad Sana and is comprised of Latino farmers who grow a variety of agricultural products. This PWG is geared towards addressing the unique needs and challenges of Latino farmers in the area.

 

Niche Meat Producers’ Working Group The Niche Meat PWG is an active regional working group of meat producers raising beef, pork, lamb, goat, and poultry. This group is working toward solutions for specialty meat processing in the region, in addition to other cooperative cost-sharing projects.

 

Organic Tree Fruit Producers’ Working GroupTree fruits such as cherries, pears, and apples are all a large part of the agricultural economy in the Columbia Gorge. The Organic Tree Fruit PWG is comprised of growers who produce a variety of stone and pome fruit at various scales of production. The group is focused on expanding local education offerings on organic growing practices and is exploring potential collaborative solutions to shared packing, marketing, and distribution challenges faced by organic producers in the region.

 

Vegetable Producers’ Working GroupThe Vegetable PWG consists of producers who grow a great diversity of field crops. Members are primarily small-scale direct-market growers such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms or market gardens, and the group is focused on expanding local education opportunities, improving regional marketing, and using collective action to tackle the common problems of these business models. The Vegetable PWG is looking into group purchasing of agricultural inputs to reduce costs, regional branding, and cooperative distribution options to improve the regional market for vegetable producers.