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First:

Emma

Last:

Abby

Co-Applicant / Spouse:

Kurt Holmes

Email:

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Past and present farming experience:

My name is Emma and I own and operate a farm in Eagle Point, Oregon with my husband (Kurt), our two small children (Ronan 6, Thea 2), and my mother-in-law and her husband (Angela and Jens). Kurt and I have been on this journey together for 20 years now, 12 years of which we’ve been pursuing farming as our primary focus.
We were both born and raised in New England and left together in 2008 for graduate school in Sweden (Kurt MS in Plant Ecology, Emma MS in Sustainability Science). It was then that we first were exposed to organic agriculture and began to realize that was our future. We started volunteering and working on small organic farms from then on (in Sweden to start and subsequently in HI, NC, NV and finally OR). After graduation in 2010, we decided to drive across the US for the first time, to see if Oregon might be the right place for us to settle and start a farm of our own. At the time, farmland was far more affordable in Oregon than in the northeast, which was a driving force for us along with climate.
We did indeed fall in love with Oregon and we both found jobs working on a beautiful historic farm (that reminded us of ‘home’ i.e. New England) running their agricultural programs (Kurt, livestock and gardens, and me, education programs). Kurt’s mother found herself at a crossroads in life and decided to join us in Oregon. She knew we were dreaming about stewarding some land of our own and so she decided to buy a neglected, broken down old farm in the Rogue Valley for us to fix up and all live together (there are two homes next to each other on this land). I continued to work as the Direction of Education at Historic Hanley Farm for a few years after we moved onto our own farm, up until our eldest child was born in 2015. Kurt worked for several different local farms for years, in addition to our own, in order to buy our place on the deed of this farm, which we all own together now.
Our intention was to stay here forever, but at the beginning, wildfires were not an annual event. Since we moved to this farm in 2013, every summer has been plagued by at least a week of toxic wildfire smoke. This past year we had over 9 weeks of toxic wildfire smoke filling the valley. It is visible in the air at all times, with ash residue on everything. The gardens and livestock struggle. The tipping point for me is simple, our children. It is known to cause major health complications, especially for growing little bodies. However devastating it might be to leave here and start again somewhere else, we must be prudent and protect our children, and ourselves.
As for our farm here, we live in a rural farming community in Eagle Point, Oregon. Rural, but about 20-30 minutes to a vibrant town. Our farm is 80 acres of open pasture and oak savannah. We primarily raise Icelandic sheep (about 20-25 ewes plus annual lambs) and A2/A2 Jersey cows. We also raise Kune Kune pig. We have extensive permaculture gardens and have taken soil building very seriously from the start. We've planted dozens of fruit trees, an acre of coppiced willow, and hundreds of perennial plants in addition to annual gardens. We have a 3/4 acre spring fed pond that we use to irrigate our gardens and livestock water. We sell raw milk, lamb, pork, and surplus produce to our local community. We also run a rustic campsite nestled in the corner of one of our pastures. You can check out our campsite, which won best Hipcamp site in Oregon 2021, by searching ‘HipCamp Pasture Camping on the Farm’ (and see lots of pics!).
We have created a beautiful life here, the life of our dreams starting all those years ago as students in Sweden learning about permaculture for the first time. Our kids were born right here in this farmhouse where I write this. They are deeply connected to this land. But we acknowledge that this chapter is coming to an end. We can hold on a few more years and pray for less smoke, but ultimately it’s only a matter of time before we leave, as the wildfires/smoke are unlikely to end.

Counties being considered:
  • Knox County
  • Waldo County
Types of enterprises considered:
  • Apple/Fruit
  • Berries
  • Dairy (cows)
  • Flowers
  • Greenhouse
  • Livestock
  • Pasture
  • Sheep
  • Sugaring
  • Woodlot
Total Acres Desired:

100+

Wooded acres:

10+

Acres in Pasture:

10+

Acres in Pasture:

10+

Organic:
  • Doesn't matter
Farm structures needed:
  • Barn(s)
  • Storage
  • Other Housing
Arrangement(s) considered
  • Standard Sale
I am interested in farms with Conservation Easements:
  • Yes
Here is a summary of the vision for my farming future and/or business plan:

We are looking for a farm with two homes (2nd home could be an in-law apartment), a barn, and hopefully additional outbuildings. There must be at least 5 acres of pasture, and ideally hay fields as well. We are also looking for surface water (ideally a large pond). Please do reach out if you think we might be a match!