35 Innovators Under 35: Meet Zoë Bradbury

Zoë Bradbury is a Stanford-educated farmer and freelance writer who recently returned to the Southern Oregon Coast where she grew up. Before breaking ground on her own land, Zoë spent three years co-managing Sauvie Island Organics, a fresh market farm where she oversaw production and apprentice training for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program.

Now on her own farm, her commitment to sustainability includes the purchase of draft horses Barney and Maude to provide tractor-pulling power.

“We’ve really been refining our operations on the farm the last two years,” Bradbury said, referencing new infrastructure like barns and sheds on her property. “It is definitely a challenge, but it becomes much more rewarding as well.”

In the short period since Zoe began farming, she’s seen reactions to her occupation change for the better.

“It used to be that when I got on an airplane and told people that I was a farmer, they would ask what happened to me. Now it is totally different. Most people think it’s awesome!”
“It’s my own, unscientific litmus test, but I see a real shift occurring.”

Despite the newfound public support for farming, Bradbury sees a looming danger of a shortage in her chosen profession. “With an aging demographic, we need to make sure that there are farmers--and farms--around in the next twenty years,” she said.

Her enthusiasm for agriculture becomes even more evident when discussing how we can further involve young people in sustainable practices related to their food sources.

An avid writer, Bradbury is also a regular contributor to Edible Portland, and her work has appeared in Oregon Coast Magazine, The Oregonian, Grist, the Draft Horse Journal, and Stanford Magazine.

“Really, what it comes down to is the more we talk about it, the more that gets done,” Bradbury said, explaining how to encourage the next generation of leaders into sustainable agriculture. As the author of the online blog ‘Diary of a Young Farmer,’ Bradbury depicts the joys and hardships of owning a small farm and selling her products locally.

“I definitely believe in the power of media,” she said. “With all of the titles of new books hitting the shelves, getting more college graduates involved, presenting to young kids in grade schools—it is a snowball effect. We need to continue to get the message out in a high profile way.”