Yamhill County Farmers Fight Landfill Expansion

A recent Portland Monthly featured the story of Ramsey McPhillips, a fifth-generation Yamhill County farmer (and New Face of Farming participant) who is fighting the expansion of a mountain of garbage that's already 135 feet tall and covers 85 acres.

McPhillips, whose farm was recently certified as an Oregon Sesquicentennial Farm, lives and works his land in the shadow of the Riverbend Landfill, which currently handles 550,000 tons of garbage annually, about half of it from the Portland metro region. The landfill, which Portland Monthly notes "started as a small mom-and-pop dumb in 1982...has grown into one of the largest man-made structures in the state, owned by North America's biggest garbage company, Waste Management Inc." 

In 2008, Waste Management announced it was planning to double Riverbend's size, growing from 85 to 172 acres and to over 250 feet in height. As McPhillips tells the magazine, he had had enough. "This is really about whether Oregon values old, traditional farming on great soil and clearn rivers, or whether it wants to export its garbage to the wine country and destory farmland," he tells the magazine.

He's got evidence, too, pointing to permit violations and possible toxic leaks, as well as seismic fears. He and his allies are fighting a large company with significant resources, on a grassroots campaign. 

The profile, which includes some dramatic photos, history of the farm and the landfill, and in-depth interviews with McPhillips and other farmers, winemakers, and land use advocates in Yamhill County, is available here.

McPhillips spoke with videographer Peter Ovington for our New Face of Farming initiative earlier this year. His story is embedded below.

The Stop the Dump Coalition will hold a fundraiser dinner and concert, featuring Pink Martini and the Von Trapp family, on Sunday, September 16. Details are available here.