By Michelle Frost
Why did the baby chick cross the road? To see her friends at Naomi’s! This farm supply stop is a friendly and buzzing oasis for gardeners, farmers, landscapers and animal lovers alike.
They work hard to provide the community with healthy, organic fertilizers, soil amendments, compost, potting soils, bedding, animal feed, seeds, tools and books for every farming and growing need.
Naomi Montacre saved her pennies with a dream of farming while living in New York. Born in Milwaukie, Wisconsin and gardening with her mother, she knew she wanted to get back to growing healthy food.
Her plans brought her to Oregon State University’s annual small farms conference and she eventually became a Master Gardener with Organic Gardening Certification. Six years ago, she opened the original Naomi’s in Sellwood.
The new location at 3454 SE Powell Blvd. is exciting for Naomi and her crew. Conveniently located at SE 34th St. and Powell Blvd, the store sits on a half-acre lot.
“We have twice the interior space and 5 times the exterior space,” Montacre explains. The former location had no break room and no heat. “It’s nice to be out of a pole barn – with heat!”
Early bird gardeners frequent the farm store in January and February – “a few of our most eager customers” Montacre reports, but the beginning of March, “when we get the warm spells,” is when all plant growers arrive at once with their shopping lists.
Montacre and her team are busy in this pre-season time getting the new space together and creating efficient ordering systems, making necessary upgrades on the computers and accounting system and gearing up for a hectic spring.
“We will be expanding the plants a lot: vegetables and herbs, natives, ornamentals and fruit,” Montacre says “and the wild bird section – my mom loved wild birds.”
Her mother, Mary Fosgard, is a retired school teacher who came out of retirement to help launch the store for two years until she passed in December 2015. “She donated her time and helped with tons of stuff around here,” Montacre says.
Other expansions include supplies for horses, goats, rabbits, chicken, cats and dogs. Two bunnies reside at Naomi’s, Dash and Cinnabon, and two goats, Binga and Oona.
“They each have a role,” Montacre tells us, “Dash is HR Director, Cinnabon is Veggie Specialist, Binga is CFO, and Oona is CEO. She is definitely the boss!”
The animals in-store are not for sale, but provide education and are a resource for animal care.
“We are all animal lovers here so all of our free time is spent with the animals,” Montacre explains with a smile. They expect to adopt a store cat once the dust settles.
“Of course we have one million projects to work on. We have created new menus for potting soil, composts, and manures, and we have a new map of those areas outside.”
The team at Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply is generally about 5 to 7 employees strong but with this new, larger space they are expanding the staff and they are now hiring. More information about applying for a job is available on the website listed at the end of this article.
The store is happy to fill special requests for animal supplies, gardeners and farmers. “We try to balance the scales (of customers served), from the urban balcony gardener to the farmer with many acres in the Willamette Valley or southern Washington.”
Tools for the occasional or weekend gardener are hanging right beside the more durable tools made for other specialized work.
Pre-orders are already happening for baby chickens. “Come in and get a look at the breeds,” Montacre says. “The staff can help match you with the personalities of the different breeds.”
Early March is the busiest time for baby chicks. The store’s laminated menu pages explain every breed, country of origin, growing requirements, and what color of eggs to expect. A standard baby chick costs $6.99, and more for rare breeds.
If you aren’t certain or ready to pre-order, visit Naomi’s on Sundays for Pullett Days, with teenage hens and ducklings, and varying breeds at each of the Pullet Days.
Poultry raisers bring their chicks to sell when they are 4 – 6 months old. Stop in March 6 and 20, April 3 and 17, and through the year. It’s first come, first served, and they do sell out quickly. Cash sales only, directly through the breeder. A hen typically costs $25.
In addition to the livestock and plants, Naomi’s offers other products such as honey and soap, books and cards.
Browsing the shelves, you see hummingbird and baby pig feeders, heat lamps, gloves and hand tools, poultry vitamins, t-shirts, air plants, and seed starter trays.
“We want to have healthy snacks for people too,” Montacre says, “We’re bringing in Townshend’s Tea Kombucha and other locally-made, healthy snacks, Equal Exchange chocolate, coffee and tea.”
The business is committed to being a hub of products, information, and networking for those interested in organic gardening and farming.
Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply is open daily 10 am – 6 pm. 503.517.8551. See http://naomisorganic.com. Plenty of the pets’ pictures and daily shenanigans are posted at http://www.naomisorganic.blogspot.com.