Couple starts a small farm in Sisters
Funded largely by donations, Mahonia Gardens sprouts northwest of town.
Alandra Johnson / The Bulletin /
Published Jun 22, 2013 at 05:00AM
When Benji Nagel and Carys Wilkins told people of their plans to start a small farm in Sisters — growing vegetables and herbs to sell at local markets and restaurants — some were encouraging. But others laughed and offered a sarcastic, “good luck!”
See, growing anything other than juniper trees and sagebrush in the High Desert is notoriously difficult. Many local residents have had their hearts broken when a late-summer frost wiped out treasured tomato plants just before harvest.
But Nagel and Wilkins, both 25, were undeterred and plowed ahead with their planned garden, called Mahonia Gardens, on a piece of land about a mile from downtown Sisters.
And this week the bounty in their garden — rows of kale, cabbages, peas, lettuce and more — is proof positive their efforts were worth the risk.
Growing up, Nagel and Wilkins never imagined they would become farmers.
Nagel grew up in Sisters and always saw himself as a professional musician. He recalls a friend in high school talking about how cool it would be to start a community garden. But he was “not into that idea whatsoever,” he said. He could never have imagined himself where he is now, happily spending every day working in the dirt.