AP NEWS

Oregon Land Craft helps small farmers get their start

June 4, 2018 GMT

Nathan Kroeker of Roseburg has been helping small farmers prepare their land for production through his business, Oregon Land Craft.

Also the owner of River Hawk Tiny Home Co., Kroeker started Oregon Land Craft in 2017. He moved up from California to Roseburg to join his wife’s family at their third-generation farm, Lehne Garden and Orchard. Now a hazelnut farmer, he wanted to find another source of income while waiting for the hazelnuts to grow.

He said he had been listening to many podcasts about small farms.

“The small farm movement is beginning to emerge,” Kroeker said. He said he found farmers have been working half-acre and one-acre plots of land using non-traditional farming techniques, including walking tractors that are easy to maneuver and less expensive than larger tractors.

He decided to start Oregon Land Craft to sell the BCS brand of walking tractors, as well as other tools for small-scale farming, gardening or landscaping.

“My mission is to help people grow good, grow beauty and grow their business,” Kroeker said.

The BCS tractor is used for mowing long grass or blackberry bushes, but also has options for adding different attachments like a snow blower or pressure washer.

“It’s been a valuable tool on my own property and I’m hoping other people will see it as a valuable tool on their own properties,” Kroeker said.

He said in addition to the equipment, he wants to be a resource for small farmers.

Rylan Guillen, owner of 18-month-old farm Champion Club in Roseburg, said he’s planning to take Kroeker up on that.

Since he met Kroeker about a year ago, he said the two have been using each others’ knowledge to promote each others’ businesses.

Guillen and his partner, Erika Wolfe, both in their 20s, started their farm by renting grassland and turning it into a vegetable garden to sell produce at farmers markets.

“The community’s been receptive and helpful in pushing us forward,” Guillen said, adding he sells directly to Brix, True, O’Toole’s Pub and the Parrott House.

According to Guillen, Champion Club and Oregon Land Craft are planning to develop educational workshops to teach other small farmers about how technology from Oregon Land Craft can help their land.

Kroeker said he’s also working to create a Youtube channel about the Southern Oregon lifestyle of farming and visiting the river with his family, while featuring the equipment he sells. Guillen said he’s interested in working with Kroeker on the videos as well.

Another farmer who sells his vegetables at farmers markets, Tyler Zajac of Bend, said he used the BCS walking tractor through Oregon Land Craft in order to till the land he rented.

“The BCS was really ideal for these applications just because it’s small, maneuverable, and bomb-proof really, you’ll have it for a lifetime,” Zajac said. He said Kroeker had allowed him to practice using the tractor on Kroeker’s own land before he bought it, and has also given him tips about how to construct a perimeter fence to keep deer out of his garden.

Zajac added he’s considering moving away from the practice of tilling soil, but the walking tractor will still come in handy for mowing, blowing snow and other uses.