Contact information

Hillsdale Farmers' Market
PO Box 80262
Portland OR 97280




Getting Here

The market sets up in the Rieke Elementary parking lot in Portland, Oregon. Parking is available at both entrances. Fom Capital Highway: enter at Sunset Blvd and turn left into the lot along the Wilson High School track bleachers. From Vermont St: parking is allowed along the north side of Vermont as well as the south end of the Rieke Elementary parking lot.

View Hillsdale Farmers' Market in a larger map

Smoking is not permitted in the market or on Portland Public Schools property including the school parking lots.

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Success with Tomatoes

Tomatoes are not hard to grow, but they do need thought and attention. The key ingredients to tomato success in our area are:


  • ·      Selecting the right varieties

Our area is not ideal for growing tomatoes, because tomatoes need warm nights that stay above 65°F, or even better above 70°F. That doesn’t happen here. The last summer we lived in the Washington D.C. area, the low was 89°F one night. Which would you rather have, our pleasant cool nights, or the widest possible selection of tomato varieties? I choose cool nights, since there are still (really!) thousands of tomato varieties to choose from. The classic Brandywines, Cherokee Purples, Mortgage Lifters and the Hybrid Beefsteaks are only going to give us ripe tomatoes in September, if then. But we can have Prudens Purple, Victoria, Astiana, and Anna Russian, which are every bit as wonderful as the best known heirlooms. And some of them qualify as heirlooms themselves, being more than 100 years old.


We grow early and mid-season varieties, as do the other tomato plant vendors at the Hollywood, Hillsdale, and Peoples Co-op Market. Feel free to ask when you can expect tomatoes from the variety you choose. But don’t expect a very precise answer, since it all depends on “degree days,” a measure of how many warm hours we will have between now and tomato time. Early tomatoes are usually ready before the end of July, and mid-season tomatoes in August. Gales Creek, where we have our farm, is colder than Portland. The cool air from the top of the Coast Range comes down the Gales Creek Canyon every night in summer and settles on our fields. So if a tomato works for us, it will work for a garden in Portland.


If you can only grow your tomatoes in pots, choose varieties that have been bred to grow well in pots. We have ten varieties that do splendidly in pots. Some of them are from a group of enthusiastic breeders participating in the Dwarf Tomato Project, and all of these are enrolled in the Open Source Seed Initiative, which should keep them out of the clutches of the greedy seed monopolists. Some of them have funny names like Brandy Fred and Sarandipity.


  • ·      Choosing the right location

Tomatoes need good soil and as much sun as they can get. At least ten hours of sun a day is ideal, and six hours is the absolute minimum. If your garden area is too shady to provide that, pick a sunnier spot and grow container varieties. Some tomatoes that do fairly well with less than ten hours a day are Sungold, Uralskiy Ranniy, Stupice, Victoria, Latah and Katya. Cherry tomatoes are usually more tolerant of less than 10 hours than bigger ones.


If your tomato location has not been used as a garden spot before, put off getting your tomato plants and spend some time preparing it. Remove a layer of sod (or all the weeds if that is what is there). Dig in generous amounts of your own or purchased compost.


  • ·      Proper transplanting

Tomatoes like to be “planted deep.” That means you can take off the bottom leaves and bury the bottom 1/3 to ½ of the stem. Some people like to plant them horizontally, so that part of the buried stem is in the very top layer of the soil. This is fine.  Tomatoes need to be 2 to 2½ feet apart. You can fill the space between with lettuce or basil.


Dig a hole quite a bit deeper than the pot the tomato is in. Put in half a cup of complete organic fertilizer.  We use the Steve Solomon mix, named after the founder of Territorial Seeds.  4 parts fish meal, 1 part calcium carbonate (garden pearls), one part kelp meal, ½ part bone meal. You can get these ingredients at Portland Nursery or Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply.  Or you can used a pre-mixed organic fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer in with the soil at the bottom of the hole, and then add a few inches of soil back in. Put the tomato into the hole, and pack the soil around it by hand. Water it well. If you plant it in the middle of a hot sunny day, check it in the evening and water it again if it is wilty. It takes a day or so for the roots to take hold in a new place.


And please label your tomato plants, so you know which ones you love the most and do the best for you. You can write the name with a Sharpie on a canning jar lid and tie it to the cage or affix it to a stick.


  • ·      Watering

The conventional wisdom, which will serve you well, is that tomatoes need to be watered consistently until the fruit starts to show a little color. Then you can cut back or cease watering completely. Consistent watering means watering very well, and then not watering again until the top of the soil is dry to the touch. If a young plant starts to wilt, watering will bring it back with no harm done. If a plant gets to the crunchy stage, it is probably a goner. Tomatoes grown with inconsistent watering may develop blossom end rot. The treatment for that is to cut the bad part off and enjoy the rest.


We are working with Oregon State on some dry farming research. Last year we had great success with Champagne Bubbles and Early Girls that were grown with absolutely no irrigation after they were planted. Yields were lower than with irrigated tomatoes, but still generous, and the flavor was amazing.  We are trying more varieties in our dry patch this year, and at least 20 other farms throughout the Willamette Valley are all participating in the research.  So there will be more news for next season!


  • ·      Pruning and support

Most of the tomato plants we grow are indeterminate, which means they like a cage or another means of support. Do not waste your money on flimsy cages. Tomato plants get big and heavy and need real support. We use heavy-duty cages for our cherry tomatoes.  We make bamboo pyramid structures for the others. We tie the stems to the bamboo with cut-up socks and t-shirts. String is bad; it will cut into the stems. There are many good methods for supporting tomatoes; the Internet is full of them. And it is not against the law to let them sprawl if you have room. The disadvantages of sprawling tomatoes are that they are harder to pick and more subject to slug damage.


We prune the cherry tomatoes lightly if at all. With all the other tomatoes, we prune out the suckers. Those are the wanna-be stems that grow in the armpits between the main stem and the leaves. Our goal is to have one stem per tomato plant, but we often end up with two or three. That’s ok. What you don’t want is twenty or more stems, because then the plant will devote itself to growing foliage rather than fruit. Around Labor Day, it’s a good idea to cut off the growing point of each stem, since any tomato blossom that appears after that is too late to produce a tomato.  When you cut off the growing points, the plant concentrates on ripening the remaining fruit.


  • ·      Harvesting

It’s ideal to pick tomatoes when they are dead ripe if they are going to be eaten or preserved that day. But picking them when they have good color but are still a bit firm will not result in diminished flavor, and will allow more flexibility in when they are used. If you are growing a variety you have not tried before, it may be hard to tell when they are fully ripe. Green Zebras have dark and light green stripes throughout development, and the light green stripes turn yellow when they are ripe. Indigo Apples have some red on the bottom when they are ready. Some tomatoes have green shoulders when they fully ripe. This is good, since green shoulders and the best flavor go together genetically. A good test for ripeness is the feel – ripe tomatoes are a bit soft.  If your tomatoes are grown in a garden with other plants that need watering, pick them when they are a little under-ripe to avoid having them split.


If it rains, all of the tomatoes that are close to ripe should be picked quickly, since they will split if they stay on the plant after a rain.


If you have questions, ask them! The vendors who sell tomato plants and the Master Gardeners are more than happy to help you achieve tomato success.


Vendor Spotlight: Caldwell Family Farm

Farmers’ markets are a collection of businesses, a temporal grocery store where each shelf comes with a smiling face and a wealth of knowledge about the products they create. We’re giving our vendors the spotlight to share more about their role in the Hillsdale market community.
By Sarah West


Brett Caldwell in his winter brassica field.

Like many first-generation farmers, Brett Caldwell was drawn to farming after years of practicing in the garden. Though he grew up in Ohio, where commercial farms were a part of his childhood landscape, he knew nothing about how to run one. Just four years ago Brett was still working for Comcast, while he and his wife, Judy, tended a large edible garden that progressively took over the yard of their south Florida home. As the garden outgrew their family’s needs, he shared the bounty with friends and neighbors.
“I found that I really enjoyed feeding people just as much as I enjoyed growing food,” Brett explained about this first inkling that he might like to try his hand at farming.

Kids contest winner 1
A January King cabbage plant catching the morning sun.
Their pipe dream started to gel when the Caldwells visited Portland in 2011, falling in love with the region's beauty, strolling farmers markets, and catching drift of the active small farm scene.  A year later, a Comcast position opened up in Portland and Brett applied for it with the idea that it could help them relocate and get established while they acquired land and slowly built a farm business. He didn’t ultimately get the job, but he and Judy decided that the application process had proven to them that they wanted to go anyway.
“Most people,” Brett told me, “would have waited for the next opening and tried again. We, on the other hand, weren't so patient. I quit my career of 18 years, we sold everything in our house, packed up our clothes, and headed to Oregon.” 
Kids contest winner 2
Some of the day's fresh eggs waiting to be washed.

At a visit to the Oregon City Farmers Market, Brett learned about Clackamas Community College’s horticulture program, where both he and Judy eventually completed degrees in horticulture and urban agriculture. That education and the local connections that came from it led to the breakthrough they were waiting for, including a tip about a rental property with small acreage. By the spring of 2013 they were prepping the soil and planting their first farm vegetables.
Farmers markets were integral to the Caldwell’s startup, from inspiration to education to the community support that was essential to their growth.
“We knew we wanted to be vendors after our first visit to the Oregon City Farmers Market,” Brett recalled. “I loved seeing the farmers at the booths making connections with the people they were feeding. It was the same feeling I enjoyed when I shared food from my garden in Florida. As a vendor, I've learned so much from the people that shop with us. They've taught me various ways to use vegetables that I had previously not experienced. It's been the personal feedback from our customers that help me learn everything I need to grow delicious, healthy food.”

Kids contest winner 3
Arugula in one of the winter vegetable high tunnels.

Since 2013, the Caldwell’s have moved to a bigger farm site just south of Oregon City and now have a 17-acre spread with high tunnels (unheated greenhouses), a large covered house and yard for their poultry flock, and room for a small orchard. Caldwell Family Farm also maintains Certified Naturally Grown status, a peer-reviewed certification whose standards are based on those of the National Organic Program.
Caldwell Family Farm will be at Hillsdale through the winter season, selling a variety of salad and cooking greens, root vegetables, chicken eggs, duck eggs (when available), and their farm-direct preserves. Follow their Facebook page to learn more about the farm and keep track of what they’ll be bringing to market!

Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter September 20 2015 Market

We conclude our summer market season this Sunday, and return on the 15th of November for our last quartet. Looking at the fields and orchards, it is going to be a fine set of holiday markets. Beautiful rows of chicories, escaroles and field greens will join the pantry crops. We will continue to deliver table grapes to both Food Front stores, so if you all buy them Josh has to call us up and order more, and everyone is happy.

Our preserves, albeit in a more limited selection until we get down to Sweet Creek Foods in late October, are carried by the following stores:

City Market, 735 NW 21st Ave.
Food Front, both Hillsdale & NW Thurman
Foster & Dobbs, 2518 NE 15th Ave
Our Table, 13390 SW Morgan Road, Sherwood
People's Coop, 3029 SE 21st Ave
Pastaworks, 3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Vino, 138 SE 28th Ave.

The grapes this week are a touch of 'Autumn in New York' – sparing you all a Billy Joel ear worm, eh? Interlaken, Canadice, Steuben, Sheridan and New York Muscat are the progeny of the New York Fruit Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva, New York, part of Cornell University. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Geneva fruit breeding program was at its peak and as you taste these four varieties, we hope you will be impressed with the sheer breadth of their flavors. Even the apple, a paragon of diversity, doesn't come close to the grape. Interlaken, Canadice, nameless and Jupiter are chaste, lacking the biochemical events associated with seed development and maturation, so the flavors resulting from seed ripening, especially the bold spicy and floral notes, are missing. That is not entirely a deficit because other flavors are apparent, no longer masked. Be sure to compare the chaste varieties with the fecund varieties, New York Muscat, Steuben, Sheridan and Price. You can see how the seed creates a consistently larger and more complex flavor.

There is only a teaspoon of farms nationwide who offer such a broad array of such distinctive grape varieties. Due to the early season, this is the first time we have had eight varieties to enjoy as you watch the full eclipse of the "super moon." It is about two hours, so buy enough grapes to savor the convergence of an exceptional season for table grapes and a rare lunar spectacle. And put aside that pointless fussiness about grape seeds, just as you decided that kale is pretty delicious a couple of years ago after shunning it for decades; the seeds are an absolutely delicious dimension to the berry, as is the skin. A few years from now, some researcher will anoint the fecund grape the new superfood and you will feel a whole lot healthier knowing you we ahead of the science.

Interlaken, Canadice, Steuben, Sheridan, and numerous other grapes from that period, are named after towns in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It is a wonderful tradition that has fallen by the wayside as the station's public breeding program has stumbled into the morass of "club varieties" and the attendant cheesy commercial names. Club varieties are patented by the breeding program and released to a limited number of growers in order to keep prices high, avoid market saturation and, putatively, to maintain high quality, i.e. uniformity.

There is a tendency to pronounce Interlaken as though it is named after a city in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland. No, the Interlaken of the grape is, as noted, a New York Finger Lake town located nowhere near the Alps and the second syllable is pronounced with a hard "a" as in "lake." Goodness sakes, we don't say Loch Oswego, do we? Well, perhaps on the 25th of January after consuming a few too many wee drams in tribute to the great poet, and forgivably, but other times never. And Canadice is pronounced with a hard "i" as in dice. Don't Eurozone them.

The harvest of beans has started and Angelica, who is in charge of their release, has handed over black turtle, Tarbesque and purgatorio for us to package for this week's market. We have given Borlotti Gaston baby eyes, but she is adamant that they need more time. It is very important to defer to staff on these matters.

We produce our own seed for most of the crops we grow, and in the process we have also worked to improve the quality of those crops, and adapt them to our soils and climate. It is a long process, but the results reinforce our efforts. In first few years of growing Amish Butter, Linda Colwell helped us as we carved rotten kernels off the misshapen ears with the sharp end of a church key in order to salvage enough to sell. That tedium is now history, and this year's ears are magnificent is every respect, the result of repeated selection over a decade. Last year, we were frustrated by problems with the black radish and have started the process of selecting roots that have better frost resistance, and working with Ave Gene's staff we are bringing back the hard-skinned storage melons we used to grow about seven years ago. These are true melons, not winter melons of Asian cuisine.

This year we will feature those melons and the mixed barley at the 2nd Variety Showcase put on by Lane Selman and the Culinary Breeding Network. As amateur breeders, we need a bit more adult supervision, so Lane has assigned two restaurants to keep us in line. Sarah Minnick of Lovely's 50/50 is developing recipes to showcase the qualities of the barley mixture. We tried her 'Triple Barley Cookies' yesterday. Made from flaked barley, barley flour and sprouted barley, they are wonderful. Sarah has a roasted barley ice cream in the works to accompany them. Joshua McFadden of Ave Genes will highlight the melon project called 'Ave Bruma' or behold the winter solstice, from the restaurant's first flavor selection. Later, around the solstice, we will bring in another pile of melons for his staff to taste and put aside again the seed from the best flavored.

At market, we will also have a smaller tomatoes (Astiana and Striped German), tomatillos, preserves, chickpeas, lettuce, beets, onions and other alliums. We will also have bunches of thyme.

We hope to see you all tomorrow,

The Boutards
Ayers Creek Farm
Gaston, Oregon


Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter September 13 2015 Market

Back in the days of John Cage and Frank Zappa, and Stephen Sondheim finding his voice, there were families who had an uncle or neighbor who owned this weird car called a Citroën DS, maybe they owned one themselves. Viewed with either love or distain, the car grabs the eye and mind. The philosopher Roland Barthes in Mythologies (1957) discerned something profound about the car: "It is obvious that the new Citroën has fallen from the sky inasmuch as it appears at first sight as a superlative object." The 1964 Car and Driver review for the car had it parked under a billboard for Carl Reiner's Enter Laughing. Ultimately, Barthes could not fully accept the Déesse's divinity whereas automotive critic was converted. The two of us both come from families who had an uncle with a Citroën, and count ourselves among the faithful. Our courtship 39 years ago started with the purchase of 1972 Citroën DS21 Pallas. So what the devil does this obsession have to do with farming?

The connection starts in 1936, when Pierre Boulanger, the chief of Citroën, started a project coded TPV for toute petite voiture, or a completely small vehicle. It was conceived as a car for farmers. The design team included Citroen's Italian sculptor, Flaminio Bertoni, and André Lefèbvre who arrived at the company with a background in engineering airplanes. The team was under the stern direction of Boulanger.

The so-called War to End All Wars had decimated the male population, a whole generation of French farmers were buried, so the efforts of women and their children were important for feeding the nation. Boulanger's design brief called for a car that could be "drivable by a woman or by a learner driver." The brief also called for vehicle that could haul four people and a 110 LB sack of potatoes at 36 mph, and travel 78 miles on a gallon. The sculptor was told that appearance didn't matter, merely an umbrella with wheels would suffice. Most importantly and famously, the suspension had to be gentle enough that the farmer could carry market basket containing a gross of eggs (144) to market without breaking a single one, even after passing over the roughest farm roads and cobble stone streets. A fabric top could be rolled back to accommodate bulky items such as a ewe or calf. Early brochures featured livestock in the car, as well as eggs and baskets of vegetables.

The design was driven by a economy, practicality and simplicity. The original was minimalist in every respect. The prototype started out with a two-cylinder BMW motorcycle engine. After several other sorts were tried, the air-cooled engine based on the BMW design was adopted, giving the car its characteristic whine. Every part was repeatedly weighed and pared to make sure it was as light as possible.

The gearbox reflects Boulanger's fixation on farmers. He was insistent on a three speed gearbox, but his design team developed a four speed box. He was indignant, what does a farmer need with so many speeds? Stymied for a while and on the verge of loosing the argument, the team came up with a farmer's story. After market, the load is light but a farmer needs to get back to feed the chickens and milk the livestock; night is hastening and she needs a supplemental speed to reach to her farm by the last shred of light. The chief relented and the early models were marked 1, 2, 3, S, retaining a modicum of deference to his plan. The lawn mower style starter cord was dropped in favor of a starter, preferred by the team, when the women testers complained. Bertoni created a spacious car with an abundance of constant radius curves friendly and gentle in spirit, not an inkling of aggression. In various languages it quickly became known as the snail or duck.

Development was interrupted by the war, and the first 2CV (Deux Cheveaux) was finally introduced in 1948. The models in the 1950s had a 14-horsepower engine. The French authorities taxed cars by the engine's fiscal horsepower – equivalent to seven horsepower in the US and elsewhere – so at two fiscal horsepower it was very cheap to license. Despite the design emphasis on the farmer, the car was universally accepted and produced continuously until July 1990. That final car was still effectively an umbrella with wheels, with hammock seats and an underpowered, whining two-cylinder engine. Along with that artfully tuned suspension that would never hurt an egg. The car was still easy to service and repair.

There was a collective groan from 2CV owners when Richard Dreyfus in American Graffiti could not start his 2CV. All he had to do was open the trunk and pull out the hand-crank that Boulanger insisted should be included, and was until the very last car rolled off the line. When James Bond ignores the switchbacks and careens straight down a slope in a 2CV, escaping his would-be assassins in their fancy, high-powered cars, we chuckle approvingly. Indeed, Citroën produced a limited edition 007 model, and ignored the Dreyfus faux pas. A 2CV, a farmer's car, without a hand-crank, never.

Although Citroëns are singular cars, ownership is not always so. In our case, a 2CV edged its way into our lives 25 years ago, and is still used by us at the farm. Chances are, the tomatoes, onions or other vegetables you all bought at market were hauled out of the field in that 'tin snail', keeping Boulanger's vision alive in Gaston of all places. On occasion we make delivery runs to Portland in the car. Even though we use a piece of history to bring your tomatoes from the field, you still get them at the same great price. Imagine that.

Times have changed, though. The first decade we had the car, veterans would come up to us and recount a similar warm memory. They and a buddy borrowed or rented a 2CV, packed some sausage, bread and wine and took a trip into the European countryside with a couple of . . . the memory trails off into a wistful smile when it no longer relates to the car, nor did it ever. Shades of the Gary Gentry classic The one I Loved Back Then " . . . the old man scratched his head, and then he looked at me and grinned, he said son you just don't understand, it ain't the car I want, it's the brunette in your Vette . . . "


Again, you can pre-order the 20# lugs of Astianas ($35), as supply permits. Yep, the price hasn't changed even with the touch of the classic. Weather has been kind so we have a good number. Please try to place your order before 3:00 PM Saturday. We will not confirm, but we will tell you if we cannot fill your order. That seems to work all around.

We will also have grapes, tomatillos, hulless barley, chickpeas, onions, beets, a few plums. We will have preserves as well, we promise.

Until Sunday,

Carol and Anthony
Ayers Creek Farm


Ayers Creek Farm Newsletter September 6 2015 Market

For well over a decade, we were stymied by the genus Vigna, our efforts figuring as one of the farm's major nonprofit endeavors. The best we could achieve was parity, a ratio of one pound sown to one pound harvested, and we were almost celebratory about that pathetic achievement, seeing it as a hopeful sign. Most efforts failed even this slight measure of hope.

Indigenous to tropical Africa and Asia, this genus of legumes has a complex of vernacular names, including field peas, cow peas, chickpeas, southern peas, mung, dal, gram and adzuki. They have a distinct gamy flavor relative to the garden beans. They were also one of the original "beans," along with the fava, of southern Europe – the subject of Annibale Carracci's classic 'Mangiafagioli' (~1585) was tucking into a bowl of black-eyed peas, not the American garden beans we associate with Italians today.

Many plants have highly sensitive biochemical chronometers which trigger various functions such as growth, dormancy and flowering according to the dark period of the day. Plant with this requirement are called photoperiodic, and field peas possess that characteristic. In some crops agricultural cultivars have been selected for a very tight photoperiod. For example, onions and cabbage are not useful if they go to flower, or bolt, willy nilly. In Oregon, crops adapted to southern latitudes do not set flower until the nights lengthen in August or September, and there is not enough time to set and ripen their fruits. This is why okra, limas and field peas are not successful at this latitude, and as yet have no commercial cultivars suitable for Oregon. We have wasted a great deal of time and treasure on all three; hope springs eternal.

Experimenting with other crops gave us an appreciation of the challenges farming at the 45th parallel. One of the fascinating entries in the Tokyo Foundation is about Longfellow flint corn originating in New England that is grown on the island of Hokkaido. The northern part of the island lies on the 45th, which is why that variety grew well. We realized we needed to understand the crops of the island better, and that led to our Hokkaido Project. Both soy and adzukis are grown on Hokkaido, so we started trying varieties from the prefecture. Adzukis are the one Vigna, or field pea, that has commercial potential here in Oregon. We are also working on two traditional soy varieties, more on that later.

Initially, adzukis didn't sell well. We had licked the biology only to confront a marketing challenge. Despite the hesitant reaction, four customers gave us the spine to plant more. Mio Asaka (Mio's Delectables) and Naoko Tamura (Chef Naoko) used them in a traditional Japanese way as red bean paste. Last winter, David Sapp of Park Kitchen asked us if we could suggest one of our beans as a substitute for black-eye peas in Hoppin' John. A light bulb lit up and we suggested using the adzukis. We warned him they are different, but of a kind, whereas the other beans we grow are definitely not of that kind. He was happy with the result, and encouraged us to plant more. Sarah Minnick was the other person who brought them into her kitchen with a variation on their traditional use in sweets; at Lovely's 50/50 they ended up ice cream.

A couple of weeks ago we got the idea that perhaps adzukis would be tasty as fresh shelled beans. We asked people who might know and poked about a bit on-line, but no one seems to share our idea. Then again, no one had ever suggested grinding popcorn and cooking it for polenta, or steeping it in slack lime for hominy, so there is no harm in trying an unshared notion. Bear in mind there are a host of ideas that have been discretely buried and forgotten in the Ayers Creek compost pile as well. As it turns out, fresh shelled adzukis make a tasty dish, just like one of the southern peas. Not quite the perfection of a Lady pea, but up there with next tier field peas. We will have some at market this week, a one-time event, and then you all will have to wait for the dried adzukis.

We will also have grapes, tomatillos, hulless barley, chickpeas, onions, beets, maybe some plums but not sure of ilk, and tomatoes. Space permitting, we will try to include preserves as well.

We will reprise the pre-order offer for the 20# lugs of Astianas ($35) this week as supply permits. Please try to place your order before 3:00 PM Saturday. We will not confirm, but we will tell you if we cannot fill your order. That seems to work all around.

Our regards,

Carol and Anthony
Ayers Creek Farm, just a tad north of the 45th