The Kalapuya tribes were the first to cultivate crops in the Willamette Valley. Because they were a semi-nomadic people, they did not build any permanent structures which will attest to either their ingenuity or their conservation-minded agricultural practices, but it is known that the Kalapuya tribes maintained a practice of flash-burning, or controlled field burning, which made pastureland conducive to the growing of camas, tarweed, berries, and hazelnuts.
Not only were the Kalapuya astute at manipulating their environment for growing produce, but all of the fresh vegetation in turn attracted deer, elk, and other wild game which they hunted for food and clothing.
The Oregon trail brought thousands of settlers into Oregon City between 1840—1850, but it was the Willamette Valley that drew the farmers.
Being within such close proximity to the Willamette River, the area NW of
Salem is a region which exploded with farms whose wheat and produce was so abundant that much of it was often shipped down to the California gold miners during the Gold Rush. The city of Lincoln (named for Abraham Lincoln, and also known as Doak’s Ferry) was a town that shipped out more wheat than any other Willamette River City other than Portland.
Much of the farmland of this area is now blushing with vineyards, nurseries, fruit trees, and berries. According to the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon, the Willamette Valley is where 99% of all hazelnuts grown in the United States come from. The Willamette Valley’s rich soil coupled with the gentle climate and abundant rainfall all work together to make the region ideal for agriculture.