David and Margaret Brewer
Emerson Dell Farm
Emerson Dell Farm is located in the rolling hills about 15 miles southeast of The Dalles in North-Central Oregon.
David and Margaret are the 5th generation of the family to manage the farm. David's great-great Grandfather, C.W. Emerson, homesteaded along Fifteen-mile Creek in 1880 while working as a black smith for the railroad in The Dalles. Every family generation since has been early adopters of soil conservation measures with the goal of protecting the land for future generations. In 1997, three generations of the family made the decision to continue that tradition with a transition to a direct seed farming system. Today, off farm relatives maintain their connections to the farm with an annual spring family reunion centered on working cattle and plenty of good food.
We believe that direct seeding is important to the future of agriculture because it allows for soil quality improvements while maintaining the productivity and profitability of the farm. Outside of our time, we feel that our topsoil is our most valuable resource and water (in an 11-12" rainfall zone) is our most limiting resource. With a direct seed farming system, the moisture our fields receive is absorbed by the soil rather than running out of the fields carrying our soil into the streams. In addition we burn far less fuel than we did farming conventionally with multiple tillage passes. Direct seeding also allows us to annually plant spring crops in a planned rotation to control weeds and diseases that limit production in a traditional wheat-fallow rotation.
Based on our long-term experience as members of Country Natural Beef we know that there is value in being part of a market that allows us to capture some stability and additional value for our crops and animals based on how we grow them and differentiate them from commodity products. Shepherd's Grain allows us to tell our family story and link that to our grain production for those customers that care about where their food comes from and how much care goes into growing it.
As farmers, we feel that it is important to develop relationships with Shepherd's Grain customers because that connection creates greater understanding and trust on the part of the consumer for the food they choose to purchase. The relationship in turn makes our future as farmers more secure because we are less vulnerable to the vagaries of the international commodity markets.