Your name and your farm

Steve Matsen
Winjina Farms

be well, be strong, live long

Location of your farm

Bickleton, in the south-central Washington desert. The bluebird capital of the world.

History of your farm

Our farm was settled in 1879 and has continued to be added to for over 100 years. My great-grandmother was pregnant with twin boys on the trip from Ellis Island around Cape Horn to Portland, OR. She walked the last 25 miles from the Columbia River up over 2,000 feet in elevation.

My grandfather and his identical twin brother took over the farm when they were 16 after their stepfather died and their mother moved to Portland. At that time, fully one-third of any cropland was dedicated to raising feed for the horses to work the remaining two-thirds. My grandmother's family raised sheep on deeded and railroad land from Horseheaven to Mt. Adams. As do other Shepherd Grain farmers, we have a rich, deep, long and lasting relationship with the land. It is part of our family. We are part of it.

Why do you think direct seeding is important to the future of agriculture?

The plow is more destructive than the sword. We are but a small step to a future where we are in nature, part of the process, enhancing what we use.

Why are you involved with Shepherd’s Grain?

So as to concentrate focus and efforts that bring us together, face-to-face in diametric position to the nameless, faceless, commodity markets. Behind it, at a fair and constant price is a very valuable asset to us as growers.

Why do you think it is important to develop relationships between the grower and Shepherd’s Grain customers?

So both sides of the transaction can have a connection beyond payment.

So it all gets personal.

So we invest in each other.

So we can agree to value the intrinsic.