Diane’s Urban Farm Retreat
ADDRESS: 770 SW Lookout Drive, Corvallis, OR 97333
PHONE NUMBER: 541-753-0762
OWNER: Diane Arney
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 1 year
WHAT THEY SELL: A farmhouse setting for meetings, seminars, and private gatherings, including four bedrooms for overnight stay. The farm produces fresh eggs, orchard produce, and fresh culinary herbs.
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: This small working farm on the southwest side of Corvallis is within walking distance of OSU and just two miles from Downtown Corvallis. It offers a space for rest, relaxation, and reflection typically found in much more rural settings.
Diane Arney has turned her house and property into a unique “home away from home.” In her warm and welcoming style, Diane makes each visitor feel a part of her urban farm retreat. Whether you’ve come as an overnight guest or to participate in a workshop or board retreat, you’ll find a restorative, eclectic, and whimsical setting to relax in. The farmhouse interior is full of color and is uniquely decorated with lively artwork. A stroll through the lovely gardens and orchard encourage a slower pace and an appreciation of what the earth provides. Diane’s love of life and the natural world are reflected both inside and out at her urban farm retreat.
Diane, when and why did you decide to start your business? After working as a nurse for many years, there came an opportunity to try a new direction. I had always imagined my home furnishing part of my income, and this was a chance to make it happen. Since my children were grown and their bedrooms sat empty in this happy old farmhouse, there were loads of opportunities already built in.
I’ve lived in this house since 1993. It was a pretty big “fixer upper” when we bought it, but it had the perfect combination of a rural feel while being close to a college town that we were searching for – a place to raise our children. I had tended the orchard and gardens as a hobby when, about 15 years ago, I learned that First Alternative Co-op was having trouble sourcing herbs locally, so they agreed to consign with me. Later, I started hosting acupressure classes at my house and when out-of-town teachers or students came, they stayed overnight. The combination of providing herbs to the Co-op and hosting the acupressure retreats was what got me thinking about making my home into a business.
I took small business courses at LBCC, and I learned about doing a website at Pacific Coast Community College. It took a while to collect all the bits that would help me turn my home into a business. By April 2014, I had completed some of the ground work, and local attorney Robert Mauger helped me with the LLC registration process.
I was encouraged recently to try Airbnb, and I started with them in January. I’ve enjoyed hosting a variety of individuals visiting the Corvallis area, including parents of OSU students and speakers at the recent Mother Earth News Fair in Albany. A few groups, such as First Alternative and CIBA, have had their annual board retreats here. I’m interested in hosting more DIY and sustainability-related events, such as the cob oven workshop that we hosted, taught by Kiko Denzer and his wife Hannah Field.
In addition to tending the gardens and orchard, we raise chickens. We have a small roadside farm stand with a loyal group of egg customers; this year we will have garden produce at the stand as well. Folks can call to place an herb order for “fresh picked” pick-up at the farm stand. Fresh is best when it comes to herbs!
Please tell us more about your services. What are your favorites? I have diverse interests and realized over time the need to hone in on the financially viable ones. Tending the earth is my primary passion and creating a healthy space for people, plants, pollinators, animals – all things that come across the property – is the foundation that makes it feel special to folks who visit here. Growing and selling culinary herbs is like a first-born of my business plan, and I have hopes that my clientele continues to grow for that product.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? I’m honored because the Sustainability Coalition has been such a profound mover and shaker in our community. It is a wonderful and much appreciated gift to have this opportunity to share our story with so many.
Do you fill an unusual niche? Why should people patronize your business? Look for my locally, sustainably grown herbs with minimal packaging at the Co-op – or call to place an order for pick up at the farm stand. Adding fresh culinary herbs to your meals can provide new taste sensations and added health benefits. The farmhouse provides a whimsical setting with a quiet rural feel, and it is close to town – a nice option for out-of-office work related meetings and other small gatherings. The bedrooms are great for out-of-town guests who need a simple and comfortable place for overnight stay.
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? It took a while to settle on the right mix of product, and that is still evolving. I would say that the marketing is the most challenging aspect for me. I would like to develop a few more regular customers for culinary herbs. believe the solution comes with networking, finding ways that my business supports yours. That’s one of the wonderful opportunities that CIBA provides.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis? The value of supporting local businesses is that we’re creating a safety net for our future. Local businesses create jobs and allow us to make choices to invest in ourselves as a community.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What about your business excites or inspires you? I love that my business is starting to support me in pursuing my passions and that my passions contribute to the well-being of the planet and to the people I serve. I love tending this little garden and creating a space where all who come here will flourish.
What is your relationship to the community? What organizations do you support or participate in? I like to work with the Corvallis Folklore Society. I’ve hosted some house concerts, including Rebecca Lomnicky, Hanneke Cassel, and Jamie Laval – all Scottish fiddlers – and some overnight guests in my role as a volunteer for the Folklore Society. Also, I’m a member of CIBA, the First Alternative Food Co-op, and the Sustainability Coalition. We support Habitat for Humanity with donations and by shopping there for reused materials when we have a project underway.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? Have you taken steps to save energy, reduce your use of other resources, decrease your carbon footprint, and reduce waste? I grow and sell my herbs locally by intention. This allows me to provide the freshest product with minimal packaging and a small carbon footprint (delivered by bike or hybrid vehicle.) Our solar panels provide more than three-fourths of our electricity use and we have 5000 gallons of rainwater catchment for irrigation. We collect urban firewood for heating with our high efficiency wood stove, helping to divert this sometimes overlooked resource from the landfill. All appliances are updated to high efficiency, and I replaced all the windows and doors for improved energy savings. We’ve benefited by the Energy Trust of Oregon program for home energy efficiency evaluation and received new HE light bulbs and water flow restrictors, and had help setting goals for improving insulation further. In the garden, we count on the chickens for some of our soil fertility and for food waste management. I compost in place all yard/garden debris, avoiding use of burning and/or truck transport to the reclamation center. We practice household water conservation and re-use and have an interest in developing more grey-water systems. We choose a waste prevention lifestyle. We love projects that incorporate reuse of materials and careful use of resources. Diane’s is a neat place to visit if you are interested in seeing some sustainability measures in practice.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”
— Jelaluddin Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks
(Interview and article by Annette Mills – June 28, 2015)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).