About the Umpqua Valley Farm to School Program

Thriving Waters | Umpqua Valley Farm to School is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that began in 2010 as a community-building and revitalization effort in Glide, Oregon. When Tedy Fromdahl and the original board members created Thriving Waters, their vision was to deepen connections with nature, arts, education, and community. Much of the work encompassed gardening at the school, hosting Wildflower Runs, and keeping a focus on local health and well-being.

Seeing great need for these efforts beyond Glide, we began expanding our reach and impact in 2020–as Umpqua Valley Farm to School (UVF2S)–and now provide garden-based education, health and well-being lessons, and community agricultural support throughout Douglas County. We also help harvest and distribute fresh farm and garden produce to local families—recently delivering over 300 pounds of fruits and vegetables to students through a partnership with Glide and Roseburg School Districts.

UVF2S works with the Blue Zones Project, the Umpqua Valley Farmer’s Market, three elementary schools, the juvenile detention center, and other local groups.

“Everything was grown locally,” Erin Maidlow said. “The Phoenix Charter School has been donating about 200 pounds of vegetables a week to food banks, but they wanted to make sure families with kids in schools get these veggies.” (Read more)

Our Vision

School gardens have become a focal point of many Oregon school districts as well as around the country. Oregon has the largest Farm to School program in the county, with our state legislators allocating more funding than ever before to the program. Umpqua Valley Farm to School saw this as an opportunity to expand throughout the county, providing support to existing school gardens and assisting in expansion of new school gardens, as well as connecting with local farmers to promote the importance of sustainable agriculture and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption in youth and families throughout the Umpqua Valley.

Our Commitment

The mission of Umpqua Valley Farm to School would not be complete without addressing that as an organization, we are committed to offering inclusive and equitable services to the whole of our community. We recognize that not everyone has equal access to natural recreation areas, gardens, and healthy produce, and that this disparity is too often due to discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, gender, and/or social status. It is our goal to bring opportunities for healthy futures to those who are without them. Umpqua Valley Farm to School is dedicated to building a community that is inclusive, equitable, diverse, and healthy!

Meet Our Team

Staff & Board

Erin Maidlow

Executive Director

Erin MaidlowErin Maidlow graduated from Ball State University with a degree in Natural Resources and a minor in Geology, where she focused on sustainable agriculture and soils. As an internship project, she worked with a community garden at the Boys & Girls Club in Muncie, Indiana. There, she taught youth about soil, growing food, and provided them with produce baskets to take home to their families. That project was what sparked a passion for school garden work and providing hands-on education to youth. In 2013, Erin accepted an AmeriCorps volunteer position as the “Think Local Horticulturalist” at Phoenix Charter School in Roseburg, which is what brought her to the Umpqua Valley. It was through that position that she began working with farmers throughout the region and grew produce for the school meal program and farmers’ market. She currently works as a Farm to School Educator and regional Farm to School Hub lead through Oregon State University. In March of 2020, the opportunity arose to take on a role at Thriving Waters and continue its mission in a new direction by incorporating gardening. This has blossomed into Umpqua Valley Farm to School, where Erin is proud to support her community.

Erin is a busy mama to three children who are often seen at gardens and farms with her, as she sees the importance of teaching them where their food comes from and to play in the dirt. They share a love of gardening, even if that may just be digging and throwing soil at each other. She also loves hiking, swimming, paddling, and exploring hidden gems of the Umpqua Valley and beyond.

Sarah Cline Pytalski

Treasurer

Sarah Cline PytalskiSarah Cline Pytalski has more than a decade of experience in rural community advocacy with a strong background in research and writing, project management, evaluation and strategic communications. She works at Burness, where she supports the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its rural, data, and community power-building initiatives. Sarah previously served as Policy Research & Evaluation Manager at the National Congress of American Indians and as Policy Program Manager for Rural Dynamics, Inc. She has a Master of Public Policy from Oregon State University.

Mimi Ryan

AmeriCorps Volunteer

Mimi Ryan grew up in the valley of Sonoma, California, surrounded by vineyards, farmland, and lush redwood trees. She moved to San Diego, California to study Sustainability at San Diego State University. After earning her bachelor’s degree in the summer of 2018, she completed a farming internship at Wild Willow Farm in San Diego. Craving a deeper connection with nature and discovering a love for garden education, she moved to Roseburg, Oregon in 2020 to complete an AmeriCorps service term as the School Garden Coordinator for Umpqua Valley Farm to School.

In her free time, Mimi loves exploring the wilderness that surrounds her, whether its sunny beaches, local farms and gardens, or misty forest trails. She has a passion for learning, teaching, and connecting others with the natural world that they are a part of.