Oxen are the most common source of traction in the world (think foreword force tractor, horse, or donkey). They can be raised on the farm, fed from the farm, and part of an integrated farm organism. Unlike tractors (gas, diesel, biodiesel, or even solar powered) they don’t depend on intense manufacturing, and don’t require an outside fuel source. They are GRASS POWERED. The waste from oxen can be spread on fields and increase fertility. Using oxen encourages managing pasture and growing diverse crops. This creates healthy soil and lowers pest pressure enabling a sustainable approach to farming.
The art and skill of training and farming with oxen is dying off in America. Out here on the west coast, I am one of two active and visible ox farmers. I traveled to Michigan to learn, and as I reach out locally I find stories of past ox teamsters. It is essential this skill be preserved while it still exists in our living memory.
As we move to more dynamic climate and require alternatives to fossil fuels, draft powered farming must be part of the conversation. It reduces our dependencies and increases soil fertility. The more diverse our food system is and the less it is dependent on outside energy sources, the more secure it will be. The use of oxen to part the Fertile Crescent for grain to flourish was the foundation to civilization as we know it, and over thousands of years we have come back to relying on it time and time again.
Okay I get it, its important, you know how to do it, I am not trying to do that sounds tough…. what do you need from me?
Starting an ox farm in the 2000’s is difficult. With some grant funding, and working jobs ranging from night dishwashing, camel training, to FedEx delivery I’ve been able to come this far. I need your help to get my demonstration farm going. I have 1.5 acres at the river farm to work with and a farmer’s market booth at the Edison market. I need your help raising money for seeds, additional compost, critical tools, and infrastructure. With all farming, there is a huge up front investment and payment comes months and months later. With your help I can get a jumpstart on my first season.
I call this a demonstration farm because my focus is on education, I will use this space not only to grow vegetables, grain, flowers, and seed, but also to teach and preserve the skill and art of farming with oxen.
No contribution is too small; even a couple dollars can buy a pack of seeds. Our goal of $10,000 will get me the last bit of equipment, irrigation ample fertility, a seed propagation set up, and resources to wash and pack produce for my first market. Please share, you never know who might be interested in helping. A hundred people with a hundred dollars can keep ox farming alive in the northwest and create a hub for education and innovation. Thank you for your support!
If you want to find out more about the Off Ox Project you can checkout more photos and information on the facebook page .
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