I arrived at Flamingo Ridge Organic Farm a few minutes late for my meeting with owner Charlie Harris, as my journey out to Gaston, OR had me slowing to a roll at every idyllic ranch, winery, and overlook. So when I arrived, I found Charlie on his flip phone doing business. He told me to give him a second while he made things right with a client. I heard him apologize for the miscommunication and insisted they take a new shipment free of charge tomorrow. Later he told me that he doesn’t do “iPhones, computers, internet, etc.’ for his business transactions. He insists on “hearing the other person’s voice” and keeps things simple with a couple of huge dry erase boards. I immediately got the sense that Charlie was just an all-around good guy.
Farm to Fit has been ordering produce from Charlie’s farm all summer. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and green beans are the bulk of Flamingo Ridge Organic Farm, so if you’ve had our Greek Salad, Pico de Gallo, or BOOST zucchini noodles – just to name a few – then you’ve been a part of the full circle! Charlie also supplies to several other restaurants as well as farmer’s markets in the Portland area.
We walked as we talked, and Charlie explained everything from his system of irrigation to his process of smoking garlic (which I am so excited to try!). But my first question to him was about the farm’s name. I had assumed he was originally from Florida, but it turns out that way back when, one afternoon, a garage-sale obsessed, hairdresser friend of his just happened to bring by 200 books of matches with the name ‘Flamingo Ridge’ on them. And thus, a farm was born. Thirty years later, Charlie couldn’t be happier.
The farm (totaling 5 farming acres) sits on a hill, which Charlie uses to his advantage every winter with a man-made pond at the bottom of a slope. The rainfall travels down hill and collects – and Charlie uses this water (along with water from another pond on the other side of his property, totaling 1 million gallons) to irrigate his crops all summer long. I asked him how he has been affected by the drought this year, to which he replied “not at all” while simultaneously pointing out the gigantic bull frog that was about to leap into the pond for a dip. He said that he’s been lucky in that regard, and has been more worried about the increased risk of fire breaking out.
We walked out to his yurt, which he lists on HelpX, a world-wide site that brings together volunteers and farmers in a cultural exchange, and he invited me to stand in the center of it and make a noise. Immediately after doing so, I surprised myself with the weird acoustics. He said that it’s the ideal place to listen to someone play music, and that he’s had some amazing musicians stay at the farm. We walked by the yellow-jacket traps and made our way through the back fields of harvested squash plants. The greenhouses were teaming with ripe tomatoes. The baby eggplant were shining in the sunlight. The workers laughed from a distance. Ahh.. farm life. What a beautiful, and more importantly- important place.
At Farm to Fit, we specialize in crafting healthy, delicious meals to fit your dietary needs, using only the freshest local ingredients. Learn more about the farms we love and the custom meal delivery plans we offer in Portland, Oregon. Contact Farm to Fit to order today!