Industrial farming is not the status quo for Clatsop County. Family owned and operated farms, dairies, and ranches that operate on a small scale or as part of a cooperative are the norm that feed our community and allow grassroots local food movements to blossom. As the local demand refocuses on freshness, sustainability, and animal health, buying direct from farm to table enables consumers to know their farmers and reconnect to their food. To meet these demands of the agriculture renaissance, one young family turned their farming dreams into reality.
In a business where the average Oregon farmer is over 57 years old, Wendi and Zach La Rue of Melville Farms are a young couple striving to break into the agriculture scene and make farming part of their livelihood. Both Clatsop County lifetime locals, they have stayed true to their roots to raise a family while starting a farm in the community they love. This husband-wife duo even nodded at a piece of Lewis and Clark River Valley history when naming the farm for the historic, unincorporated community of Melville which established a post office in the 1890’s and closed over 30 years later.
Taking care to respect community history, the young farmers look to the future by focusing on animal health and land management. “We’re farmers with feelings,“ Wendi laughs as she pats their favorite cow Molly and hitches her two-year-old up higher on her hip, “Letting pigs root and forage around paddocks or waiting the 2 years for the grass-fed and finished beef to be the right size might not be the easiest or cheapest way, but having happy animals just makes sense to us.”
Backbone beliefs for Melville Farms management are sustainable, pasture-based and holistic land management. Using chickens to fertilize pastures after grazing, pigs to work soil before reseeding, and allowing animals access to pasture year round have their animals happy, free to forage, and showcase small family farming at its finest. This young family is currently growing pasture-raised, grass fed and finished heritage beef, lamb, free-to-forage pork, pasture-raised chicken and selling free-range eggs supplemented with organic whole grains. To learn more about the La Rue family and Melville Farms, visit www.melvillefarms.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram!
Photos by Wendi LaRue