Atlas’ Land Stewardship Program is complementary to the GIS Department. This means that it provides data to the GIS Department for analysis and dissemination, as well as gains and uses the data provided by GIS to plan and inform decisions of the Food Security/Land Stewardship program.
All land that is acquired by Atlas undergoes an assessment to understand what is the best potential use of the space within the goals of the landowner and the organization. Land that is suitable for agricultural use is separated from land that is better maintained under the premise of land stewardship. This distinction is important; Atlas desires to enact ecologically and environmentally sound land use practices that do not harm or exploit but improve wildlife habitat, restore and heal previously abused land, and increase natural beauty, all within the landowner’s vision.
A soil test is performed on any agriculturally usable land whose land use history indicates any potentially harmful contaminants in the soil (like heavy metal contamination). This ensures that food grown on the site will not contain contaminants.
The Land Stewardship program strives to grow as many types of storable crops as possible, as well as any crops that the Food Pantries have indicated as desirable. This includes potatoes, all varieties of winter squash, beets, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and dry beans. There is potential for many more types of crops should food processing become possible. The food is grown with seed saving in mind, meaning that to maintain purity of seed genetics, no cross-pollinating varieties will be grown on the same property.
During the summer of 2016 we began cultivation at a small test plot of land in Eugene where we grew flowers, vegetables, and fertilizer (compost). We gained an in-depth understanding of what is required to successfully start the Food Security program; especially what infrastructure, tools, and labor hours are necessary for growth and smooth operation. We started the seed bank which now contains cilantro, zinnias, nicotiana, yarrow, and green beans. The garlic (Romanian Red variety) was planted in the fall for growth in summer 2017. Seed garlic can be saved from it and re-propagated. All of the vegetables grown on the site were weighed and recorded. This will help us to understand yields and work towards optimal dollar per unit cost. We acquired another parcel of land in the fall and began assessment.
We hope to be able to build and run a greenhouse to support our agricultural operations. This includes the structure itself, trays, seeds, soil, tools, and an incubator. We would provide flower and/or vegetable transplants to all of Atlas’ Stewardship sites as well as to other local non-profits and food security groups for their programs.
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We are a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.