A Family Farm Legacy Will Warm Your Heart

Spread the love

Farm Focus: Dutch Heritage Farms
By Patti Jo Brooks, Contributing Writer

The Dutch Heritage Farms sign

Why is a city girl from West Linn running a hobby farm in Damascus? The answer lies in the lifestyle provided by the family farm back in Holland. Denise Woods, owner of Dutch Heritage Farms, moved from the city to rural Damascus with her family and her mom about four years ago. Looking for a relaxed environment for her mom’s retirement years, the two bought the property together, fulfilling her mom’s dream of being back on a little farm. Denise explains, “I’m first-generation American on my father’s side. My father was still a citizen of Holland when I was born.” She adds, “My grandma (father’s mother) always wanted a farm, too, after she left Holland. So it’s kind of a family legacy I’m trying to create.”

Sharing the family mini-farm with community neighbors and friends has become a mission of sorts for Denise. Moving to the farm in 2019 and facing the pandemic, she did what any self-respecting city girl would do – opened a Facebook page and invited people to tour the farm, free of charge. Following Covid protocols, visitors were able to hang out with the animals, feed them treats and enjoy the farm grounds. “That’s kind of what I still do,” says Denise. “I don’t charge anything for it.” Open to the public by “Appointment Only,” Dutch Heritage Farms has hosted field trips for kindergarteners and offered the grounds for picnic lunches, providing a unique and intimate experience for families and romantics. Recently, Denise began selling hens to the local residents so they could enjoy their own farm-fresh eggs at home.

Two baby sheep look at the camera

She wants the farm to be a place where everybody feels welcome. “I like the people to feel welcome, the dogs and all the animals to feel that way, too,” she says. It’s also a place for kids who are scared of animals, to give them a quiet place where they can learn about animals. “Our animals are very friendly,” Denise points out. “Our turkeys follow you around and just gobble. It’s so cute.” You’ll also see chickens, ducks, quail, rabbits, Babydoll sheep, KuneKune pigs and mini donkeys roaming the farm grounds.

In addition to the farm animals, Dutch Heritage Farms is home to Pampered Pet Lodge, a small kennel designed for “special needs” pets as well as special requests from pet parents. As Denise explains it, sometimes animals (dogs in particular) need special consideration and she is willing to go the extra mile to accommodate them as well as any special requests made by the owner. The kennel (which is fee-based) has a couple spots for cats as well as dogs.

Helping out around the farm is Denise’s husband, Travis. “He works hard to keep things nice,” she acknowledges. Her two daughters, Cassandra and Shana, who both live onsite, also pitch in. Cassandra assists with the farm animals, the house, the eggs and the hens. She works part-time at a veterinary clinic and is attending school to further her veterinary education. Shana is responsible for marketing and spreading the word about the farm and the kennel.

True to her city girl nature, Denise admits she has kind of a “pristine” farm. Her mom used to tease her about that and Denise agrees, “I dust the barn, I can’t stand having cobwebs in the barn.” Her current vision includes planting herbs, raspberry bushes and the like for natural landscaping. She’s also looking into trees that will give the animals shade and produce a food source for them. “It’s a process,” she confirms, “because we’re new at this!”

For Dutch Heritage Farms or Pampered Pet Lodge, call or text Denise Woods at (503) 913-5052 or email denisewoods5052@gmail.com. For information online visit dutchheritagefarms.com.