Our Family Farms

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AUGUST 21, 2018



When I look back at my life, one of the things I’m most proud of is the time I’ve gotten to spend working with all of you to create a GMO-Free Seed Sanctuary in Jackson County. I’m grateful that I said, “Yes” in 2013 when Steve and Suzi Fry nominated me to be a voice for family farmers in the Rogue Valley and led our fight to ban the cultivation of GE crops in Jackson County. No doubt it’s been a roller coaster ride that no one could have prepared me for but it was amazing!  As we move into a new phase of our work, I will serve on the board and continue to be involved.


Elise Higley, Steve Fry, and Rhianna Simes
Elise Higley, Steve Fry, and Rhianna Simes

I’m excited to pass the baton on to Rhianna Simes, who will be serving as the new Executive Director of Our Family Farms. Rhianna Simes, M.S.Ed. is thrilled to work for Our Family Farms and we are so lucky to have her lead us into the next level of our important work.

Rhianna grew up in the middle of nowhere, on a 100 acre farm and vineyard in central Texas. She has a Masters of Science in Education and Botany from Southern Oregon University. Rhianna recently retired from 10 years as an instructor at the Oregon State University Extension Service, where she developed the Land Steward program, and also coordinated the Master Gardener program. She lives with her husband and two young children outside Phoenix, OR where they operate their own 1 acre, educational mini-farm called Verdant Phoenix (specializing in organic plant starts, perennial food, healthy soil and natural farming). Rhianna is a plant nerd who is passionate about local food, seed sovereignty, and making education fun!

During this time of transition, we are asking you – our friends, family, and allies - to support Rhianna as she steps into her position as the new Executive Director of Our Family Farms.  We are going to have a special ceremony and passing of the baton at the Our Family Farm’s Seed to Table dinner on September 16th.  Please purchase a ticket, provide a silent auction item, or become a member so that we can continue the important work we are doing.  A portion of the funds that we raise at this event will support our efforts in the upcoming legislative sessions. Our Family Farms will be in the halls of Salem advocating for farms and will champion the rights of farmers!

We would love to hear your input, thoughts, suggestions, and dreams related to Our Family Farms and our future. Rhianna will be hosting listening sessions and a few fun events this fall when you can provide your insights, feedback, and ideas.  Feel free to contact Rhianna directly or watch your email for an invitation to an upcoming event! Please join us!

Don’t forget to purchase your ticket for the Seed to Table dinner to reserve your spot.

Onwards Together

Elise Higley & Rhianna Simes




The Future of Soil Educational Series


Celebrating the Local Harvest, final session in The Future of Soil series at the Fry Family Store.


Our Family Farms was very pleased to have nearly 100 people attend our Future of Soil’s Series launch in February! It was great to see so many new and familiar faces, and to learn about the history of agriculture in Southern Oregon and the history of growing for seeds. We hope that you learned something applicable for your farm or garden from the presentations by Dr Elaine Ingham,  Dr Jonathan Lundgren, our own Dr Ray Seidler, and other knowledgeable speakers.

Overall, we had 23 agricultural professionals and 26 community members sign-up for the entire series. The evaluations reflected that the Southern Oregon community is hungry to learn more about regenerative agriculture and growing healthy soil. Thank you to our incredible speakers, and very generous sponsors. We are so grateful for your support! 

Our Family Farms looks forward to offering more educational events about regenerative agriculture in the coming months. Stay tuned!

Our Family Farms is a 501(c)3 non-profit of family farmers and individuals committed to educating, advocating and inspiring farmers, policy makers and the community at large to support regenerative agricultural practices
 to create a thriving food and agricultural system with seed diversity and farmable land for generations to come. 

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Tax I.D:81-1081279. All donations are tax deductible.



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