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Blodgett, Oregon

by Leaf McGowan

I really wish I had taken detailed notes on the history of Vegantopia. When I was ready to write this article, I just assumed I could pick the brains of the founder and creator of Vegantopia later. But we all know how that goes. I believe he purchased the land and built the house in the ’80s or ’90s. There may have been remnant creations or foundations earlier as he told tales of certain musicians contributing wood to the stage below. The house itself was a one-two bedroom downstairs (if you count the terrarium he has a bedroom set up in) with its own bathroom and kitchen. Then the two-door garage in an industrial-sized warehouse converted barn that could host two large diesel trucks, but currently empty with a fashion walkway and a performance stage, and a food trailer which housed the kitchen of the ranch’s name “Vegantopia”.

Upstairs is a three-bedroom house with a kitchen, living room, dining room area, three rooms (we used one for our son’s room, the other an office, and the final a master bedroom), a bathroom with a claw-foot iron tub. Fireplace, deck, and two stairwells – one to the deck, the other from the garage. The side of the house hosted an awned storage bay with stacks of firewood for the winter. It is an organic garden, a gypsy wagon/vardo for a guesthouse with its own sink, bed/loft, table, chairs, and stove. Solar panels to power up the house and a disintegrating hut that was once a workshop. A creek running through the property with a footbridge over it, an apple orchard, hiking trails, and a faerie ritual circle up in the woods. It was a magical place. I don’t remember if it was 8 or 16 acres of land.

Vegantopia was the name given to the place by its founder Markey Stuart. Markey created a tempeh kitchen where here he concocted his magical creations of a variety of tempeh that was sold to grocery stores ranging from Ashland, Oregon to Portland with most of the sales in Corvallis and Eugene.

There is little on the web about him or Vegantopia. You can find mention of his infamous Tempeh and soymilk he produced in issues of FA times, vol 32, issues 1 and 4.

They referred to Mark Stuart as a long-tie Co-op owner and mastermind behind Vegantopia. He sold his local 6 soymilk made from organic soybeans that they described as impeccably pristine clean food as basic wholesome soymilk packaged in reusable glass canning jars. We had the pleasure of being gifted it there while we cohabitated the land. We rented the top house and the vardo while Markey lived in the smaller unit down below.

The Vegantopia Tempeh was the most famous creation of the kitchen – fresh, tender, nutritious cakes made of soybeans, garbanzo beans, or quinoa fermented with extra high mycelia content from organic ingredients and packaged in cellophane instead of plastic. Eaten raw or cooked it’s a favorite of all local vegetarians and vegans.

As Mark Stuart was selling off his empire, we had plans to purchase the land and home from him, including the tempeh trailer but we were unable to come up with the funds by the time he was ready to move on (which was rather quickly) so it was sold to another amazing family that was a perfect fit for the land and home.

An amazing secret magical paradise. Vegantopia has woven its own web.

As we had intended to purchase the property, it was sold out from under us – and we moved on to establishing the Leaf and Dragon in Ashland, Oregon. Tough financial times those days, but our experience there was otherworldly. “Vegantopia” is no longer, and the Tempeh business was sold off to an amazing Vegan cook in Portland, and the property to a magical family from Idaho.

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