Milo Brings Back the Farm

If the new farm manager at Milo looks rather familiar, it’s because he is. Gene Mitchell has returned to Milo’s farm, and already his experience and leadership are making a positive difference on campus. The farm’s organization has gone through a fundamental change since his last tenure here. The new organization, South Umpqua Farms, LLC, is an independent business. Mitchell is the president and manager, but he is assisted by an advisory committee with a tremendous amount of agricultural experience. Together they are implementing plans that will turn the farm into a progressive, profitable venture.

Some of the plans for the future include planting a greater variety of fruit and nut trees. The fields are now being prepared for organic farming, and when they get their food preparation building ready, they will be able to package products for sale to the school’s cafeteria and local towns. Land not suitable for crops, is being developed into pasture lands, and sheep are already on campus.

One of the first programs to benefit from the new farm management is the horse program. Last year Milo had 18 horses on campus for students to ride. Already this summer, the farm has filled the hay barn with over 1,400 bales of hay. Some of the hay will go to feed next year’s horses, and the rest will be sold to help operate the farm.

Farm workers are also planting varieties of fast-growing trees. These trees have the ability to give off large amounts of oxygen, and environmental programs are in place to pay farms for letting them grow. Long-range plans for the forestry division include growing lumber for the mill and producing sawdust for the boilers. Other projects include renting out bee colonies, selling river rock, and raising and selling goats and sheep.

The farm’s main goal is not financial; it’s spiritual. Mitchell says, "Every seed is God's. We can plant it, but he makes it grow." South Umpqua Farms has a mission statement: "To be good stewards by taking care of God’s plants." More than plants are growing here. As the students who are employed at the farm can testify, working here is a Christian experience. The supervisors are constantly drawing attention heavenward and showing them Christ through their loving treatment of not only plants and animals—but also students.

Gazing across the campus, one notices how the fields and orchard look well-kept. Yes, the farm is a blessing. Welcome back, Mr. Mitchell.

August 01, 2008 / Oregon Conference