by Kathleen Bauer
Joan and Ron Baune both grew up on farms near the Oregon coast and, though they didn’t meet till they were grown, when they married they knew they wanted property of their own. Kids came, and the pastures around their home were filled with the livestock the kids raised for Future Farmers of America projects.
When the kids grew up the Baunes decided to expand their small vegetable garden and plowed up the well-fertilized pastures to plant vegetables. Ron built a greenhouse for plant starts that they began selling at a nearby farmers’ market, and when that garden reached eight acres, they decided to hit the big time with a space at the much larger Portland Farmers’ Market.
While their plant starts were a big hit, they realized that city people didn’t have the larger parcels of land that were common in the suburbs. This “aha!” moment led Joan to the realization that potted vegetables would be a great value-added addition to their product mix, and she came up with her Rainyway Farm Salad Bowls.
She first fills the 20″ plastic pots with a rich potting mix and then gently adds 15 to 20 lettuce and chard plants that she starts from seed. Joan’s eye for composition is evident in the red lettuces and colorful chard that she adds, saying that the different textures and colors make it look prettier on a patio.
After planting, the pots are then moved into the greenhouse to mature and fill in before going to the market. Joan said that many people buy them for gifts as well as for their own use, trimming off the outside leaves as they mature and using them in green salads. Frequent requests have led Joan to start making herb bowls as well, with a variety of perennial herbs.
With good care, these salad bowls will last through the summer months.
Kathleen Bauer is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon, focusing on agriculture and field-to-plate issues. Her blog, Good Stuff NW, is about her journey to connect the dots between what happening in the field and what she’s putting on her table, including stories about people who are making a difference in our local food system, about eating sustainably and locally, and about the political issues affecting the food we find at our markets and stores.