Barbara sets the pace for civic engagement in her local McMinnville community. As a hay farmer, she knows how to make a farm ecologically and financially sustainable. But she also pours her knowledge back into the community. As a volunteer and elected official, she chairs the Oregon Board of Agriculture, and the boards for the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District and the Soil and Water Conservation Commission. She also started the McMinnville farmer’s market, and houses many different volunteers through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms program.
Barbara and her husband Tom carry on a multi-generation legacy of farming. Their property lies on a beautiful and expansive area of land, cradled by trees abutting four miles of the South Yamhill River. Through the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, they planted 10,000 trees along the river to reduce erosion and stabilize the soil.
“We are soil farmers. The healthier the soil is, the more you will be rewarded with your crops. We took 24 acres out of production because we felt the river was more important than our wallets. It doesn’t pay as much as the crop would, but the bigger picture is not about money, it means so much more to keep the river healthy.”
As an elected official for the Yamhill Soil and Water Conservation District, it’s important to Barbara to get out into the community and ask the right questions to be able to represent her people. She says looking forward, water storage will
be a crucial issue for Oregon farmers, as river flows are altered and periods of drought during the summer lengthen.
“I’ve got some community members or constituents that have totally different political views. But we can always find a commonality in coming together on a topic. So, it’s OK to have different needs and wants, but let’s get to the nitty gritty on a topic”.
Barbara holds a deep respect for the natural world that shapes how she lives her life and serves her community.
“Watching nature, and watching the shadows of the sun movement, and when the clouds come in. I just love looking at the ebb and flow of mother nature- because she is our boss”.