John Eveland and Sally Brewer have been running Gathering Together Farm (GTF) for 27 years. In that time they’ve become indispensable to the Co-op, to local farmers’ markets, to lovers of fresh and delicious food, and to the Willamette Valley itself.
John and Sally each come from a long line of farmers. John comes 3 generations of Iowa farmers; Sally from 5 generations of New Hampshire market gardeners. They came together, here, 27 years ago. Today Gathering Together Farms, Inc., a certified organic farm, operates on 60 acres, including over 4 acres of hoop-houses that let them lengthen the seasons.
Their farm stand has grown locally famous, not just for their immaculate produce, but because of their small restaurant. During the regular season the farm stand restaurant serves lunch Tuesdays through Friday, does dinner on Thursday and Fridays, and on Saturday mornings puts together an incredible breakfast. Everyone who loves good, fresh food owes it to themselves to have a meal at GTF.
John was a partner in another locally-renowned restaurant, Nearly Normal’s, when he decided he wanted access to higher-quality vegetables. The solution was simple—grow them. Together with Sally, who at that time was deciding she’d rather be a hands-on, organic farmer than a graduate student learning about conventional agriculture.
Gathered together, they started to grow in response to market demand for their high quality produce. The farm now employs between 35 and 120 people depending on the season, with 40 people dedicated to working farmers’ markets.
They grow, as John says, “almost everything.” Here at the Co-op you can find GTF salad mix, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, sweetcorn, winter squash, celeriac, parsnip, turnips, rutabaga, leeks, and kale. And it’s always beautiful.
The key, John says, is to “feed the soil, keep the beneficials happy, focus on seasonal crops, but extend the seasons with hoop structures. Work hard, work smart, rely on teamwork, pursue excellence.”