We envision a thriving, sustainable food and agricultural system with seed diversity and farmable land for generations to come.
Our Family Farms defends the Jackson County GMO Free Seed Sanctuary created in 2014, supports farmers, and educates policy makers and the community at large about regenerative agriculture.
We are committed to:
Protecting traditional seeds and the farmers growing them from the contamination of genetically engineered crops. A critical first step in this effort was the passage of the Family Farms Measure 15-119 on May 20, 2014. This Measure laid the groundwork for creating a GMO free seed sanctuary in Jackson County, which is a world class seed growing region.
Defending Jackson County's GMO ban ordinance. In 2014, shortly after the Measure was passed by voters, a lawsuit was filed against the ordinace. Our Family Farms helped defend the ordinance in federal court and won!
Working with farmers, legislators, scientists, and concerned citizens to educate them regarding the benefits of farming practices that keep genetically engineered crops out of designated regions. Without these seed sanctuaries, genetically engineered crops can and will contaminate traditional crops, subjecting farmers to potential lawsuits and threatening the integrity of our seed supply.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Elise Higley, President
Elise is an herbalist, wife, mother, grandmother, farmer. Elise was campaign manager for Our Family Farms Coalition in 2014 that fought and won the landslide victory to ban GE crops in Jackson County, Oregon. She and her husband Jeff Higley own and operate Oshala Farm, a certified organic farm in Applegate Valley, Oregon where they grow over 80 crops on 290 acres. Elise is passionate about bringing people together to work towards sustainable solutions that will preserve our agricultural heritage in Oregon. She works to educate and inspire value-based action into our community at large. She is a proud seed warrior and believes in the importance of protecting our traditional seed supply for generations to come.
Anne Golden, Treasurer
Anne is a Certified Professional Coach with a consulting practice that serves primarily non profit community leaders as well as individuals seeking career transition. Anne is passionate about healthy food and soil, the magic of biodiversity and committed to protecting our environment for future generations. Anne received a BA in Political Science, an MBA, practices daily meditation and understands all too well that experience is the teacher and we are here to learn, to grow and to serve. Anne has served on several boards/committees including Asante Health System, Jefferson Funders, and currently Ecdysis, Our Family Farms and United Way of Jackson County Public Policy.
Maud Powell, Secretary
Maud has lived in Southern Oregon since 1998, when she and her husband started Wolf Gulch Farm, a certified organic vegetable and seed farm. Maud also works for Oregon State University Extension as an Associate Professor of Practice for the Small Farms Program. She sits on several boards including the Rogue Valley Food System Network, the Southern Oregon Educational Service District, and Our Family Farms.
Tina Arapolu, Board Member
Tina is a farmer and together with her partner Cos Miklosovic, they own Easy Valley Farm and Peacock Flower Farm in Rogue River, Oregon. Tina became involved with Our Family Farms Coalition during the campaign to ban GE crops, organizing neighbors to canvas and get the word out. She is passionate about local food, seeds and regenerative practices and hopes to pass that enthusiasm on to our community through education and a commitment to the health of the soil.
Bernie Moore, Board Member
Bernie was born in Michigan, where he attended Alma College receiving a BA in History. He then moved west to attend law school in Portland, Oregon. Bernie attributes his passion for growing food in a safe and responsible manner to his grandparents who farmed the same 80 acres in Michigan for over 50 years. When not practicing law, Bernie along with Betsy—his wife of 38 years—steward a more modest 5 acre farm in Talent, Oregon where they strive to sustainably raise as much of their own food as possible.
Mitra Sticklen, Board Member
Mitra is an activist, mother, facilitator and Organic farmer. Since 2015 Mitra and her partner Blake Rogers have grown and extracted sustainable Cannabis medicinals under the brand OM Extracts. She has shaped Oregon's Cannabis laws and advocated for patient rights and public health through service on the OLCC's Rules Advisory Committee, and facilitated Cannabis science workshops for hundreds of industry professionals. On their Applegate Valley farm, Mitra's family cultivates Cannabis alongside Organic heirloom corn, Persian basil, marigolds, and other seed crops. Mitra is a passionate Medicine Warrior and loves working with the community to protect safe access to cultivated medicinals and non-GMO seeds. Mitra is honored to serve on the Our Family Farms board, and she believes everyone should resist corporate-controlled GMO seed contamination of precious Organic seeds.
Erica Alexia Ledesma
Erica [she/they] is a first-generation xicana born and raised in Southern Oregon with ancestral roots in Nayarit and Zacatecas, Mexico. Erica is a visual artist, story keeper, youth mentor, and community organizer currently based in Takelma Land (Medford, Oregon). Her work centers visual art and story sharing to build community and address her cultural identity. In 2018, Erica co-founded a project called Noche de cuentos (Night of Stories), which creates a Latinx space for the community to come together and practice remembering and telling their stories. In 2019 Erica partnered up with The Hearth– becoming the director of the Latinx Story Project creating a project called De La Raíz (From The Roots) that focuses on centering and uplifting the stories of her Latinx communities. She believes in the power of telling and reclaiming our stories as a means of remembering and spiritual healing. Erica received Bachelors degrees in Ethnic Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Spanish from the University of Oregon. But she would say that a lot of her experience comes from being chismosa and curious. She is currently the Executive Director of Coalicion Fortaleza, a community-based organization focused on rebuilding the BIPOC solidarity economy and resident-owned communities in southern Oregon from the ashes of wildfires.
Magdaleno Leno Rose-Avila
Leno is a gifted public speaker and poet. Today he works on behalf of human and environmental rights and for judicial reform and is considered an expert on gangs, the death penalty, immigration, non-violence and voter registration. He currently serves as Executive Director of Building Bridges an innovative program that supports human rights for immigrants. He has given his gifts to many organizations United Farm Workers Union, Cesar E. Chavez foundation, Amnesty International, Peace Corps, and Homies Unidos. In 2014, Leno joined Our Family Farms Coalition and worked with local farmers in the historic battle and victory to eliminate GMO seeds and their chemicals in Jackson County.
Dr. Ray Seidler
Dr. Ray Seidler has a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in microbiology with a minor in biochemistry. Prior to retirement he was a professor of microbiology at Oregon State University and a senior research scientist with the U.S. EPA where he studied risks associated with GE plants and microbes.
Since retirement, Dr. Seidler has presented numerous talks on the health and environmental risk assessment issues pertaining to GE crops, impacts of pesticides and endocrine disruptors on humans and the environment, and has been a strong advocate for regenerative agriculture to sustain soil health, sequester atmospheric carbon, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Jennifer Zeitler, Administrative Assistant
Jennifer is a mother, activist, and biologist who is passionate about living on a thriving earth. She loves spending time in the natural world and tending to her garden. Jennifer has a BS in Biology from Clemson University. She has been with Our Family Farms since 2016 and is proud to be a part their mission to protect traditional seeds and support small farms.