“The need comes on me now to speak across the years to those who finally will live here after the present ruin, in the absence of most of my kind who by now are dead, or have given their minds to machines and become strange “over-qualified” for the handwork that must be done to remake, so far as humans can remake, all that humans have unmade. To you, whoever you may be, I say: Come, meaning to stay. Come, willing to learn what this place, like no other, will ask of you and your children, if you mean to stay. ‘This land responds to good treatment,’ I heard my father say time and time again in his passion to renew, to make whole what ill use had broken. And so to you, whose lives taken from the life of this place I cannot foretell, I say: Come and treat it well.”
– “XI” by Wendell Berry
Nana Cardoon is an urban farm and learning center located on the northern edge of Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley. Our oasis was created in hopes of offering the community a place to come together around traditional food knowledge and place-based learning. We host events, hands-on workshops, discussions, farm tours, and more. Our programs are designed for people of all ages and skill levels.
We believe that all people have the right to grow food and community. Our mission is to empower and inspire Oregonians by sharing knowledge and crafting experiences rooted in farming traditions and cultural heritage.
The farming methods we practice reflect an alliance of multiple schools of thought we have studied and lessons learned on farms we have visited around the world. We practice a style of organic farm and orchard management that is supported by biodynamic and permaculture techniques and philosophies. We cultivate heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables and strive to produce for nutrient dense staple foods.
We are seed savers and are active participants in local and international movements to conserve agricultural biodiversity. We strongly believe in community seed sovereignty and think that seeds belong to the people, not to multinational corporations. Nana Cardoon is an active member of a local seed savers group and serves on Slow Food International’s Ark of Taste committee whose mission is to identify and champion agricultural biodiversity and small-scale food production systems by creating a living catalogue of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction.
We are passionate about rebuilding our regional grain economy and revitalizing the lost craft of stone milling flour. We are developing new infrastructure on our property and working across the region with farmers, millers, village bakers, brewers, and home bakers to contribute to the heritage grain renaissance gaining momentum across the world. Revitalizing a regional grain economy is about more than producing more nutritious flour that bakes great bread (although it is about that too!), it is a piece in the puzzle to provide economic and community development in our communities while increasing biodiversity on our planet. Our farm grows heritage grains including Rye, Red Fife, Harry’s Red, Triticale and Maris Widgeon wheat, as well as a variety of legumes. We are also participants in ongoing wheat, barley, and oat trials with agricultural researchers in the Pacific Northwest.
Respecting and Preserving Food Traditions and Flavor Memories
When you gather around the table at Nana Cardoon, you gather around our living memories from our travels and food experiences. The traditional cooking vessels and serving utensils we set the table with carry the culinary knowledge we steward and hope to share with you. This knowledge is woven into all of our workshops and events.
“Visitors find themselves immediately immersed in a world overflowing with entwining vines, tomatoes ripe and ready to be eaten, trees heavy with heritage apples, plums and peaches, an open-air kitchen offering spicy peppers, a batch of mouth-puckering kefir, plump chicken smoking on the grill, sour dough bread baking in the earth oven, and a comfortable table to gather around to share a meal. Everywhere they turn, in every corner, along every path, something waits to be discovered, explored, and learned.”
-Cheryl Brock, Slow Food USA Regional Governor, Friend and Frequent Visitor
Charlene & Richard
Both born into families of farmers, Charlene Murdock and Richard White have devoted their lives to providing family, friends, and community with home-grown food.
In the 1980s Charlene founded a specialty food brokerage where she met Richard. Together they formed Murdock and White, the Pacific Northwest’s premier specialty food brokerage which they managed for over 25 years. This work brought them in to contact with small, artisanal food producers across the region with whom they formed many of relationships that remain at the heart of their food and farming work today. During their time in the food brokerage industry, Charlene and Richard not only gained knowledge, but they collaboratively built “taste memories” with this community. These memories are the tangible and intangible connections made when we relate to food, place, and the stories of a recipe prepared.
In 2004, Charlene and Richard served as delegates at Slow Food International’s first Terra Madre gathering – one of the largest international events dedicated to food, the environment, agriculture and food politics held in Turin, Italy. Their experience at Terra Madre and the inspiration they brought home with them had lasting impacts on Nana Cardoon’s work and commitment to the environment, agriculture, and food culture. Both Charlene and Richard are longtime members of Portland chapter of Slow Food and serve on the International Ark of Taste committee, which is an international program that seeks to save an economic, social and cultural heritage of a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables, animal breeds, seafood, cheeses, cured meats, grains and confectionery.
“We think of our meals as the binding elements of culture and our connection, through hands in the dirt, to agrarian cultures the world over.”