Student Story: Liz Shinn

Liz Shinn
Associate of Applied Science, Horticulture, 2012 graduate
Lives in Albany, farms in Jefferson

Little chalk-board labels, earthy woven baskets full of produce, and gunnysack table cloths gives the Camron Ridge Farmstead stand at the Albany Farmer’s Market that rustic, homegrown feel that beckons you to “come on in.”

It’s just the look and feel that Liz Shinn, LBCC horticulture graduate, was going for in her family run stand.

“I did a lot of research to find the look that I wanted,” says Liz. “Running the stand at LBCC’s farmers market helped, because our instructors let us be as creative as we wanted to when marketing the college farm products.”

Before coming to LBCC to study, Liz already knew she wanted to run her own farm, she just wasn’t sure of exactly what she would be farming.

“The horticulture program allowed me to dip my toes into many different aspects of farming and agriculture,” explained Liz. “I learned about conventional as well as organic farming, and studied everything from plant propagation to raising animals to landscape design.”

That variety helped Liz hone-in on her interests, and growing food came to the top.

“When I used to go grocery shopping, I thought all food was safe because it was sold in a store,” said Liz. “Leaning about organic growing methods made me realize that wasn’t always true.”

In 2013, Liz started selling her vegetables at farmers market at the community market stand. She ended up running that stand for a year before moving to her current double-booth stand in a prime location. Although not certified organic, the Shinn's follow organic growing practices.

With only two acres of the 214-acre farm in Jefferson farmed their stand, the Shinn’s are not lacking for variety or abundance. About 80 free-range chickens provide eggs for the Shinn’s stand as well, but you have to get there early – they sell fast on busy market days.

Once owned by husband Chad’s grandfather, most of the farm is currently leased for grass seed and mint production – something the Shinn’s are working to slowly reclaim.

In addition to her farmers market stand, this year Liz started a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which supports 13 families with boxes of fresh produce each week.

Digging into a black tote full of CSA produce, Liz talked about her vision for helping people eat healthier and live better lives.

“I think it’s important for people to see the direct link between their food and the farmer who grows it,” she explained while rearranging the salad greens, corn, zucchini, and other vegetables picked fresh that morning for her customers. “The CSA boxes help me see what customers are looking for. If I don’t get a lot of requests for a certain item, I may not grow that one, so I focus more on what my customers want. Eventually, we want to become a full-diet CSA, which means customers can get their grains, beans, eggs, pork and beef, and maybe some dairy from our farm.”

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As a LBCC student, Liz ran the Horticulture farmers market stand, part of the program's hands-on learning.

 

Story & photos: Lori Fluge-Brunker, LBCC College Advancement Marketing Office
Calapooia Center, CC-109, 541-917-4410