Farm offers food, from one heart to another
Heart2Heart donates half of its chemical-free meat and produce to families in need
Wearing a cowboy hat and Crocs, Tyler Boggs is not your typical farmer.
The father of two has devoted his life to a mission he never imagined when he got out of the Army more than a decade ago: Ridding the world of chemically altered foods.
Boggs, 36, and his wife Elizabeth founded Heart2Heart Farms in rural Newberg four years ago, offering local, chemical-free meat and produce to families across the area.
There are no chemicals, no sprays and no injections, Boggs said. People ask me, What is our livestock vaccination policy? Its called buying good stock, feeding them good food and giving them a low-stress environment. We dont vaccinate at all.
But Boggs said they started the farm as a way to control what they were feeding their two young daughters.
Originally the idea was self-preservation, he said.
The parents were turned off by the commercial food industry, Boggs said. He and his wife Liz wanted to start fresh and stop eating foods like genetically modified corn.
When the chemicals are in the food, the animals eat the chemicals, and then we eat the animals, Boggs said. Essentially, we are eating the chemicals.
At first, the family tried to buy organic food at the grocery store, but that proved too expensive for most families to be able to afford.
Our grocery bills went from $400 a month to $1,200. Thats not a food bill, thats a mortgage payment, Boggs said. There had to be a different way.
The solution, they decided, was to go back to their roots.
Boggs, who grew up on a farm in Scholls and moved on to a successful career in finance, sold his company, and the family moved to an abandoned piece of property northeast of Newberg, transforming the 10 acres of blackberry vines and poison oak at 21555 S.W. Hells Canyon Road into a functioning farm.
They began to raise their own cows, pigs and chickens and started growing their own produce.
The plan worked, and soon others found out about the farms mission and asked how they could get involved.
Feeding the hungry
Once a week, hundreds gather at Heart2Heart farm for free veggie Friday, a special food pantry meets farmers market that allows needy families to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies donated from local farmers.
Our mission is just to feed the hungry, Boggs said.
But the program is in danger of ending if the farm doesnt earn thousands of dollars for new equipment.
The food pantry started a year ago after Boggs struck a deal with local distributors to pick up fruits and vegetables to feed to his livestock.
But we kept getting all this quality produce, Boggs said. I cant feed all this to my cows.
Boggs began giving the produce away to needy families and said he now serves about 500 families each week.
It was incredible, Boggs said. We had no idea there were that many people in our immediate area that were eating macaroni and cheese every night because they had to. I looked at my wife and said, We cant stop doing this.
But the effort has taken its toll on the operation.
We have blown three trailers and my truck trying to haul the food, he said. The demand is bigger than my bank account. People kept coming out of the woodwork and asking if we had any more.
The farmers said they were going to end the weekly pantry, but customers begged them to continue.
They said, You cant stop this! People are depending on it, he said.
The farm is raising funds to buy a permanent truck and trailer system to haul the produce, Boggs said. Its an expensive proposition. Boggs estimates it will cost the farm about $32,000 to purchase a new truck and trailer to haul produce and a cooler for storage.
So far, the farm has raised about 12 percent of its goal on its campaign website. The campaign runs through the end of the month. For more information, visit the farms indiegogo campaign page.
To me, it seems like an insurmountable task, but if there were a few people that really believed in it, thats not an insurmountable goal, Boggs said.
Farmers serve the community
The farm sells its meat and produce to families across Washington, Yamhill, Multnomah and Clackamas counties. They started teaching classes so others could learn how to have sustainable farms in their backyards, began working with returning veterans to help them get back on their feet, and offer camps to children to teach them about where food comes from.
There is so much disconnect between kids and where their food comes from, Liz Boggs said. They have no clue. They say, Oh, you cant eat that, but where do you think cheeseburgers come from? Bacon? Chicken nuggets?
Her husband said the farm will likely offer more educational programs for families to learn about the commercial food industry and how to feed themselves.
Its doable for everybody. Absolutely, Tyler Boggs said. Not everybody has to do it, but if some people would start, it would go a long way.
Families that cant afford the food can barter and trade, he said.
This man approached me a few years ago and said, I dont have any money, but I need to get the chemicals out of my familys meat. Can I work for you? It was the purest transaction I had ever experienced in my life, Boggs said.
This year, Heart2Heart will raise 1,500 rabbits, 3,200 chickens, 350 turkeys, 250 ducks, 200 pigs, 150 calves, 100 geese, 70 sheep, 50 goats and about 40 cows for sale.
Boggs said the farm plans to give about half of that away to families in need.
The community determines what we grow and how we grow it, Boggs said. Somebody said they wanted Christmas geese. We put it out there and a bunch of people wanted it, so now we raise geese. I believe thats how we should do farming. The farmers serve the community this is their farm not mine.