In honor of our 20th Anniversary Plate & Pitchfork is delighted to share that we’re launching a new non-profit organization to extend the support we provide to the people that grow and craft our food.
The Plate & Pitchfork Producer Fund is a 501c3 organization that will provide financial support to family-owned farmers, ranchers and food producers in Oregon.
Since our very first dinner in 2003, Plate & Pitchfork has been committed to supporting non-profit organizations in our community that work to:
- preserve farmland
- build healthy, sustainable and just food system
- Utilize innovative ideas to eradicate hunger and malnutrition
In the past 20 years we’ve celebrated the good work of Oregon Tilth, Farmers Ending Hunger, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste, FoodWorks, and the Oregon Environmental Council annually contributing tens of thousands of dollars to our beneficiaries.
Why start a new fund when these organizations continue to need support? Quite simply because we’re lousy at walking away from a worthy challenge. In the 1930s more than 20% of Americans were farmers. If you weren’t raising a crop for sale it’s likely that your grandparents or cousins were. Today that number is closer to 2% nationwide. Not only have we lost the connection to the people and places that grow our food we’re actually losing the land to massive corporations, investment funds and developers.
In Oregon, we’ve managed to buck that trend. In fact presently, 97% of our farms are family owned. However the average age of farmers in Oregon is just shy of 60 years old - the highest average in the country. As these older farmers retire, 10 million acres of Oregon farm land - more than 64% of farmland - may pass to new owners. Land has become increasingly expensive and out of reach for many of the next generation of farmers and the inputs needed to grow food are also increasingly expensive.
If we value our local food systems, we have to ensure that we not only support farmers by purchasing their products, we need to invest in them. The return on our investment is access to healthy, nutritious foods, thriving rural economies, increased employment, valuable wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge and beautiful open spaces. .
The Producer Fund will support family-owned farms and culinary producers by providing these small businesses with the necessary funding to support a wide range of expenses including land acquisition, equipment purchases, infrastructure development, staff support and continuing education.
Your donations are essential for helping us achieve our strengthening our local food system. With your support we can make sure these family-run businesses have what they need now—and well into the future.