Mission & History

Our mission

Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center inspires people to eat healthy, sustainably grown food and to steward our natural resources for future generations.

The Center is located on 230 acres of privately-owned land bordering the Snoqualmie River in western Washington. We use this land to grow food and native plants, to learn about nature and how we can protect it while benefiting from it, and to educate children and the general public about food, farming, and the environment.

Our history

Oxbow’s roots run a hundred years deep, back to the 1900s when a young Thomas Alberg Sr. began a lifelong bond with the Snoqualmie Valley. The Alberg family frequently visited the area to socialize with other Swedish immigrants. Decades later, driven by fond childhood memories, Thomas Sr. purchased 230 acres of land bordering the Snoqualmie River and started a beef cattle ranch. He made weekend trips to work on the land with his own five children, extending his bond with the Snoqualmie Valley to the next generation.

Thomas Sr.’s namesake son, Tom Jr., also had a special interest in the land. Just as his father did years before, Tom Jr. took steps to maintain his connection to the valley. In the late 1990s, Tom leased the property from his father to preserve and restore it. He removed the cattle, started replanting native flora around the oxbow lake, and hired a farming couple to begin a small, hand-cultivated organic vegetable farm.

Tom and his wife Judi Beck wanted to increase the impact of the work being done on the property, as well as create a space for the community to gather, learn, and make lasting memories. They founded Oxbow as a non-profit organization in 2009, providing the financial support to launch farm-based environmental education programs and construct a native plant nursery.

The land continues to influence Tom’s children, touching yet another generation of Albergs. Tom’s son Carson holds a degree in plant science and works in Oxbow’s native plant nursery; a daughter, Katherine Anderson, maintains an organic flower garden on the property. A row of Swedish heirloom berries grows in her garden, paying quiet homage to the immigrant ancestors who first set foot in the valley, so many years ago.

Through their Raven Trust Fund, Tom and Judi continue to be generous supporters of Oxbow.

 

Our areas of work

Ecological farming 

Oxbow supports a healthy food economy by operating a 30-acre farm using sustainable farming practices. Our farm produced 40 food crops in 2016 and supplied them to local grocery stores, restaurants, hunger relief agencies, and schools as well as directly to local consumers through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Native plant production 

Oxbow’s Native Plant Nursery (NPN) was built in 2013 with a purpose to increase availability and use of native plants throughout our region. The NPN grows ecologically important species for habitat restoration, urban landscaping, and educational gardens. About 43% of the 120 different species grown in the NPN are from seed collected locally. Our native plant experts study sustainable growing methods and offer educational programs for professionals and the general public.

Environmental education 

Focusing on early learners, Oxbow Education connects children to nature through year-round programs delivered on the farm and in classrooms, lunchrooms, and school gardens. Our Kids’ Farm, Living Playground, and nature trails provide an ideal outdoor classroom for children to touch, taste, smell, hear, and see the natural world and to learn about how people and the environment can thrive together. In 2016, 7,000 children learned about food, farming, and nature through Oxbow programs.

 

Habitat restoration 

Using our 230 acres as a natural lab, Oxbow partners with scientists, regional planners, volunteers, and other environmental organizations to restore degraded river and forest habitats, and to monitor the effects of restoration work on plant and animal populations. 14 acres of salmon habitat on Oxbow’s property along the Snoqualmie River have been restored with native plantings.

Research and education 

Oxbow conducts and facilitates a wide range of research in agriculture, conservation, native plant production, and program evaluation. We also host students from area colleges and universities to offer them a real-world setting to carry out their own studies and gain practical experience in their fields of study. Seven studies were underway at Oxbow in 2016.

Volunteer and citizen science programs

Through gleaning events, restoration projects, children’s programs, and NPN tasks, hundreds of volunteers have shared their passions and learned new skills at Oxbow. In 2017, we will increase volunteer opportunities for citizen science projects to ensure long-term monitoring of animal populations and restoration outcomes.


Donate to Oxbow and help us carry out our mission!

Oxbow is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization, and we can’t do this work without your help! We’re grateful for your contributions.

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