Celebrating Marvin Gilmour – Farmer/Wetland Restorationist/Engineer Extraordinaire!

Marvin discussing how to clean camas at demonstration.
Marvin discussing how to clean camas at cleaning demonstration

All of us at Benton SWCD would like to say a big Thank You to Marvin Gilmour, who has been the Zone 2 Director of the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for the past four years! Marvin will be stepping off of the Benton SWCD Board at the end of December, but he will still be staying involved with Benton SWCD programs such as the Native Plant Sale and the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative. We can’t thank Marvin enough for all of his help with our ongoing community and partnership programs. Below we’ve included some snippets about Marvin and all that he does for the community. Please join Benton SWCD in a celebration for Marvin Gilmour at Block 15’s Tap Room (in south town) this Wednesday, November 30th from 4 pm to 6 pm!

Popcorn flower at one of Marvin's sites
Popcorn flower at one of Marvin’s sites

A little history about Marvin

Marvin isn’t the only third generation farmer in Benton County, but he may be one of the only ones to apply his years of agricultural know-how to the production and harvest of native Willamette Valley plants. All of Marvin’s life he has grown grass seed and row crops like sugar beets, green beans, strawberries, and peppermint. Around 1999, he started working on wetland mitigation and now manages about 400 acres of wetlands, which takes about half his time. He views wetland management as “plain old agriculture – managing the land, and 90% of that is weed control”.

Marvin showing seed to Heath and Melissa
Marvin showing seed to Heath and Melissa

Marvin is always happy to share his bounty of knowledge

Marvin always makes the time to share his wealth of knowledge about growing and harvesting plants. Over the years he has graciously discussed techniques and trained others about farming, wetlands, native and invasive plants, seed collection and cleaning, how to control invasives, this list goes on and on. Marvin frequently hosts wetland tours and shares his techniques with other land managers and folks from the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Agriculture in the Classroom. It is always a treat to get to spend the day with Marvin out in the field with OSU students, school children, community members, Benton SWCD Board members and staff. Marvin always has a much appreciated practical solution when the questions arise of “how do I successfully grow this plant?”, “where/when do I put this seed/plant at the restoration site?”, “how do I collect/clean the seed of this plant?”, etc.

Left: Teresa and Marvin at Native Plant Sale; Right: Marvin teaching us how to clean gumweed seed
Left: Teresa and Marvin at Native Plant Sale. Right: Marvin teaching Heath and Teresa how to clean gumweed (Grindelia integrifolia) seed

Marvin donates native plant materials for restoration and community projects

Because Marvin lives and breathes the principles of agricultural production he is able to raise the seed of various rare native plants on a pretty large scale. Some of his specialties include camas (Camassia spp.), checkermallow (Sidalcea spp.) and wapato (Sagittaria latifolia). In fact, he has one of the largest wapato patches in the Willamette Valley.

Each year Marvin donates seeds of native wetland and upland prairie species to Benton SWCD’s native plant sale, so we are able to sell these seeds at a greatly discounted price to the local community. Marvin also donates his time, his staff’s time, and native plant seeds and tubers, like wapato, for habitat restoration projects along the Willamette River as part of the Willamette Mainstem Cooperative.

Left: Marvin describing to OSU volunteer how wapato tubers are being brought up with machinery; Right: Marvin working with volunteers and Benton SWCD Director Chair Cliff Hall to clean camas seed
Left: Marvin describing to OSU volunteer how wapato tubers are being brought up with machinery. Right: Marvin working with volunteers and Benton SWCD Director Jerry Paul to clean camas seed.

 

Water Wheel of Fortune: a Marvelous Marvin creation
Water Wheel of Fortune: a Marvelous Marvin creation

Marvin is an engineer extraordinaire!

Marvin can build anything, and is always thinking of new ingenious designs to help make things easier or more efficient. His creations for Benton SWCD include a hand tool to quickly remove invasive English ivy from trees, a motorized machine to help with control treatments of invasive plants, and a roulette wheel game for outreach and education events.

Gilmour wetlands receive awards

Marvin, and his wife Cindy Gilmour, have been recognized for their exemplary work promoting responsible stewardship of Oregon’s natural resources. In 2007 they received the State Land Board’s 2007 Wetland Award for their work at their wetland mitigation bank near Adair in Benton County. Marvin and Cindy were recognized for developing a native wetland of exceptional quality, diversity and size on land that had been manipulated and drained for agricultural purposes for the past 60 years.

Words of Praise from Holly Crosson, BSWCD Executive Director

“Thank you, Marvin, for your tremendous gift to Benton SWCD. Your service as Zone 2 Director over the last four years has been nothing short of extraordinary.  You brought so much passion, knowledge, insight, experience, time, and resources to the table and we are forever grateful for it. I know meetings are not your forte’ but just about everything else is! Farmers are known for their ingenuity but you take the cake.  Your creative and generous contributions to countless district projects always resulted in the outcome being stronger and better. Your can-do attitude and readiness for field adventure made it easy to get photogenic shots of you and staff at work. And we didn’t just get you – we got Cindy, too! Cindy, thank you so much for helping us out at all those events, and for supporting our organization as thoughtfully as you have during Marvin’s tenure as Director. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart. We look forward to the next chapter, though board meetings may not be quite as entertaining without you…”

Comments from Jerry Paul, Benton SWCD Treasurer

“As the past Zone 2 Director on the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District Board, Marvin will really be missed. Marvin brought to the Board an in-depth familiarity and understanding of the lands of Benton County, and his knowledge of agriculture and agricultural practices will be hard to replace.

I have personally worked with Marvin on my own small restoration projects and have learned a lot from his experience and expertise. He helped me develop an implementation plan, got me started with the base planting, and advised me as I proceeded. He always had time to visit my site, answer my questions, and offer his help, making sure I would accomplish what I set out to do. One of the first things I was told by Marvin was that if I intended to use chemicals as part of my restoration strategy, I must calibrate my backpack sprayer and follow the label application rates. The importance of following proper procedures as a way to success is very high on Marvin’s list.

Even though Marvin will no longer be attending our board meetings, I know that Marvin will be as close as the phone when we need him. Thank you, Marvin, for all that you have done for the district during your tenure as Zone 2 Director.”

Reflections from Crystal Durbecq, former Willamette Mainstem Cooperative Coordinator

Marvin, Crystal, and Bailey
Marvin, Crystal, and Bailey

“Marvin was a major highlight of my time with Benton SWCD. His love and care for the natural world remains an inspiration to me. He is always willing to apply his extensive knowledge and resources to help the district provide a higher level of service and reach new people. I personally miss Marvin, and I am sure Benton SWCD will not be the same without him as a director.”

Thank you Marvin for everything that you do! And thank you Cindy for sharing Marvin with us these past years, and for your help with Benton SWCD events!

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Left: Marvin graciously training others about harvesting self heal (Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata). Center: Marvin sharing his wealth of knowledge. Right: Cindy helping with 2015 Dirt Babies event.

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