By Megan Thompson

As I thought about what to write about for my first AgLink column and how I want to define the year ahead, I kept coming back to the phrase “Passionate about Growing.” This line resonated with me and the way I describe both Oregon agriculture and Oregon Aglink in particular.

 

Oregon agriculture grows such a diverse number of commodities and crops throughout a state with its fair share of different climates. Wherever you are–mountains, desert, Columbia Gorge, valleys or coast– and whatever title you use to describe yourself–farmer, grower, rancher, forester, fisherman–you are passionate about growing your products.

 

Like all industries, agriculture has its share of challenges ahead (political, social, and climate to name a few), but I feel by working together and tapping into our shared passion that we can get through issues in spite of our smaller differences. Even if the network of agriculture is small percentage of the Oregon population, this community is developing a strong and very passionate voice.

We all must find opportunities to share our story, and Oregon Aglink helps this voice through networking and education.

The Adopt a Farmer program continues to grow and propel the mission of Aglink of “growing Oregon agriculture through education and promotion.” With nearly fifty farm to classroom matches helping reach thousands of hundreds of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students, the program helps educate Oregon youth about how passionate farmers are about growing food and fiber. The farms and ranches in this program are directly working toward the vision of Aglink. You can learn more about some of them in this issue’s feature article.

This promotion of agriculture also comes through loud and clear as our board and members continue to be passionate about the crops they grow. Maintaining a lively and vibrant group of producers and processors over the years has been essential to keeping Oregon Aglink a relevant force in our state’s agricultural industry.

Over the last year, the Oregon Aglink executive committee has reviewed its strategic plan, added staff, and made some changes with relocating events such the Annual Meeting and the Denim and Diamonds auction and dinner. The work put in on paper and around conference tables can yield real-world and long-term results! With those successes squared away, I feel that Oregon Aglink is poised in such an amazing place for this year of continued “growing.”

Finally, the last way I viewed “Passionate about Growing” was looking internally:

How can I make a difference and continue to improve? If it’s a question you ask yourself, too, let’s plan together: set goals, get involved, seek out continual learning and networking. Everyone has different skills, strengths that can help continue the forward message of Oregon agriculture.

There are so many different organizations all passionate about growing Oregon agriculture. Find one or more that you believe in and get involved. Every little bit helps.