Anthony & Carol Boutard, Ayers Creek Farm
The Farm: 140 acres – on the bank of Ayers Creek in Gaston
What They Seed:
certified organic beans, berries, grain, corn, vegetables that grow best on their property and near the 45th parallel
Where You Can Find Them:
Anthony Boutard, born in Massachusetts, grew an early appreciation for plants from his father who was a renowned botanist. Educated as a biologist with a graduate degree in Forestry, Anthony and his wife Carol moved out to Oregon in the early 90s for Anthony to work with a company called 1000 Friends of Oregon, which focuses on land use and landscape preservation. After a few years in Portland, Anthony and Carol decided to take up farming and purchased a 144-acre working farm out in Gaston, about 30 miles from the city. Their philosophy is simple: to grow what tastes good and does well on their land. They are certified organic but don’t necessarily focus on heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruit and legumes: Anthony is constantly reselecting for the best tasting and most ideal varieties of the various beans, grains, corn and vegetables. They grow year-round without using greenhouses or row covers. If a crop doesn’t work in those conditions, they focus on something else. It is admirable and inspiring to see someone so in tune with their land.
Among Anthony’s favorite products are the 12 varieties of plums in the orchard, the table grapes (“the most amazing food” he says), blackberries and his beloved Astiana tomato. They grow a variety of other interesting and rare products such as freekah, horseradish, purple raspberries and garbanzo beans. Most is sold at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sundays and to a few restaurants in Portland they have very close, longstanding relationships with. They also produce some value-added products (tomato sauce, jams, preserves) using the kitchen at Sweet Creek Foods, which are sold at the farmers market, New Seasons Market and Pastaworks.
Certifications: Certified Organic by the Oregon Department of Agriculture
Publications: Beautiful Corn: America’s Original Grain from Seed to Plate (2008)
Advice to New Farmers:
“Drop stuff. If something doesn’t work, drop it”
“Hindsight is 20/20, so just walk backwards into things”
“You’re only as good as your next turnip. Look at the basics”
“Some of the best farmers are people trying to pursue a flavor” – Carol Boutard
“If a price list is the first thing a chef asks me about, I don’t want to deal with them. It’s like sex, you don’t ask how much. I’m not a sort of call-girl of vegetables. I grow great food and I offer it at a fair price.” – Anthony Boutard
“I like to grow living things rather than decaying dead things – it’s a stylistic issue” – Anthony Boutard on why he prefers farming over fermenting