Original Post 4/27/2012 ... Updated as needed ... General overview of our farm ...
The Oregon Truffle Tryst Farm started out with an Aquaponics system that was built from plans obtained from Friendly Aquaponics of Hawaii and housed in a self-designed greenhouse building. The first phase was built to gain experience with the setup and daily maintenance of a vegetable aquaponics system. It consists of 256 square feet of growing troughs and several tanks (4'x4'x4' and 4'x4'x8' fish tanks, a 2'x4'x4' biofilter tank and a 2'x4'x4' vet tank) giving a water volume of approximately 3000 gallons. After a few problems with the newly purchased fish in startup mode, it was functioning well. However, a recurrence of fish problems ensued and our nutrients have continued to fluctuate more than we'd expect. Overall we are still producing nice quality crops but our production is inconsistent rather than a regular amount each week. Our Aquaponics system has been functioning for over five years now and we do sell a small amount of produce nearly every week.
Our farm plan has evolved beyond Aquaponics over the last five years as well.
We have seen a number of Oregon Black truffles appear in a stand of Fir that was inoculated with truffles over ten years ago. We haven't yet determined if there is a significant number of truffles available as we have only once managed to get a truffle dog out here. We do, however, see lots of holes dug and gather leftover pieces of truffles that the forest critters uncover for us.
We have produced mushrooms on sawdust, straw, and logs over the years but have not attempted to produce them as a crop available to sell. That may change once more construction has been completed. We are also attempting to create collars for our Aquaponics rafts using mushroom mycelium grown through straw and/or sawdust substrate.
Over the last two years, we started to grow a tea crop and that is our main focus at present. We have a reasonable climate, a great location, and great topography for the attempt. Although funds are limited we expect to bootstrap the endeavor. We have bought some live plants (1-2 years old) that are already reasonably acclimated. We have started a fair amount of seeds, and now have about 130 two year old plants in one section, about 100 more in a second flat area, are currently transplanting hundreds onto a hillside behind the house comprised of several hundred indoor seedlings started in the spring of 2018, and another 1500 to 2000 seedlings we have started in 2019. In all we have about 2500 seedlings that can be transplanted out this year. We have also started another 3000 to 4000 seeds this past winter and those are beginning to sprout. They will need transplanted into larger containers this summer or fall (2020). We managed to harvest about a pound of tea last year with very promising results after some basic processing.
One other idea that is in the planning stage is to create a "forest garden" in at least a section of our back fields while maintaining it as a wildlife 'sanctuary'. But we will likely trial some tea plants back there as well.
If anyone is wandering around our area, feel free to drop by to see the bits and pieces we have managed to put together so far. And we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts and suggestions!