Photo taken at Golden Glen Creamery / Jensen & Son Dairy in Bow, WA

Sunday, July 31, 2011

In the works ... Blue Heron Farm & Hedlin Family Farm

The past few days of sunshine and summer are so welcome here right now by chilly irritable pale people AND acre upon acre of crops that rely on the sun's rays to warm roots and ripen fruit. It'll be interesting to see what August brings and when we'll start seeing roadside stands of sweet farm fresh corn 5 or 6 for $1 instead of .78 cents EACH like I saw in a Skagit Valley grocery yesterday.

Just a few days ago I was fortunate enough to spend just over three hours on the farm with the incredible Anne Schwartz of Blue Heron Farm in Rockport. When I say fortunate I mean fortunate and I think the people who know Anne understand how lucky I feel. Anne is a force ... as a woman, a farmer, agricultural activist, and ambassador of food awareness. I built an image around everything I've heard and read about Anne (okay let's see, she's a powerhouse of a lady so if she were a horse I'm thinking she'd be a Clydesdale, after 30 someodd years of farming her body has got to be worn by the sun, after all those years of living upriver in the foothills of the Cascades *we're talking serious country* she's got to be uber self-reliant, more than a little opinionated, and how could you not be a little grumpy living in the constant dew of Rockport, oh and she probably doesn't have the inclination or time to spend with people like me who obviously have too much time.) So, when I realized that the attractive, slender, petite woman with a long ponytail and kind smile who stepped out of a little red pickup truck was Anne I was pretty darn surprised. More about Ms. Anne when I get all of that video edited! Her stories are really amazing and she has an abundance of experience, knowledge and wisdom to share.

I also got to spend time at Hedlin Family Farm in La Conner walking part of the farm and talking with 4th generation farmer Kai Otteson. During my time at Hedlin, I was introduced to so much technical stuff about seeds, equipment, crop rotation etc. that I'm glad I was recording because my brain started to swim. Kai's a young and very articulate guy who grew up in Alaska studied environmental literature and worked summers on the farm before he landed in the valley full time. Again, lots of video to edit and stories and perspective to share.

And I'm still working on editing video from my visit with Steve Sakuma at Sakuma Brothers Farms.

Getting my laptop stolen really bites.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Comment

A very kind comment from a YouTuber about one of my videos of Katharine Isserlis at Well Fed Farms in Bow made my day.
You are a most engaging young woman/farmer Katharine. As a usually vegetarian/vegan for decades now...what a poignant observation - that our animals used for meat are not on this earth for very long, thus, deserve the best treatment we can offer them. How I wish everyone would awaken to this realization. I thank you both for this very informative and enjoyable series of chats.
I still can barely believe that people watch these videos and find something about the farmers to take away for themselves. I still can barely believe that this thing that I love to do is being so well received. This makes me scream like a girl. Which I am.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bad Luck and Good Strawberries

On July 12th someone broke into my car and stole my laptop, among other things. My laptop wasn't backed up, I lost everything and am still reeling from the paralyzing feeling of losing all my business data, personal data, photos, etc. Not backing up your "lifeline" is Hazard #1 of computer ownership and for this irresponsibility I'm still kicking myself hard in the ass. I did have Lojack recovery software installed and I may one day get my machine back (God only knows what condition it'll be in) but they tell me all my data was most likely destroyed. Also means I'll be a little delayed in posting my chats with farmers because the video editing software is too much for the loaner computer.

I need to work on video from the very fun visit I had recently with Steve Sakuma of Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington. Walking in their enormous strawberry field and tasting berries straight off the vine was heaven. Make that HEAVEN.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wednesday morning - come rain or shine - Sakuma Brothers Farms!

Yay! After seeing numerous black and white photographs of members of the Sakuma family from generations back I get to meet Steve who I believe is a 4th generation farmer at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington. This is one of the most established farms in the valley and I can only imagine how many family members have worked it. The person behind the farmer ... stories! stories! stories!

I'll also get clarification about this excerpt from their website because among other things I have no idea what a caneberry plant is or what the total package they can provide us is. The education continues.

"Certified strawberry and caneberry plant nursery, small fruit production, processing, fresh market, and sales.

Sakuma Brothers is a family business spanning four generations with over 85 years experience in the small fruit industry. We can provide a total package to you - something that no other company in the small fruit industry can match."
Be sure to follow this blog if you're interested in my adventures with Skagit Valley farmers.

Friday, July 8, 2011

An exciting week to come

I'm really looking forward to next week.

I'll be learning something new at Well Fed Farms. I've only told a couple people what I'll be learning and they don't believe it. Most who know me won't believe what I'm going to do. That's all I'm saying now. STAY TUNED for the pictorial.

Looks like I'll also get to meet Anne Schwartz at Blue Heron Farm & Nursery. Anne's had her heart and hands in agriculture for over 30 years and has been at Blue Heron since 1979. Can't wait to take that drive down the North Cascades Highway to talk with her about her life as a New Jersey girl who ended up in Rockport, seriously the soggy foothills of the Cascades.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Get your Viva Farms grown Strawberries today on Capitol Hill - Seattle

Buy Skagit Valley strawberries TODAY from in Seattle on Capitol Hill from 5pm - 9 pm. Here's the strawberry info. There'll be a bbq and games, too, so stick around if you can. I understand these strawberries were grown by the hand of farmer Regino Flores, one of the farmers that I met during my visit last week at Viva Farms.

Learn what the National Young Farmers' Coalition is doing

Today I learned about the National Young Farmers' Coalition. Their mission: to help young people create sustainable lifelong occupations as farmers.

Thank! God!

This is important work. Most American farmers are in their 50s and 60s. Young people going into farming are the hope for keeping American farms and farming alive.

I support us in supporting farmers of every age.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do you know what a CSA Food Box is? Learn what Community Supported Agriculture is & how it works

I've asked 57 people so far and wasn't too surprised that only a few people knew what Community Supported Agriculture was.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way that consumers can buy local seasonal fresh food direct from farmers. We pay a subscription fee or membership fee and each week we receive a box or bag of local fresh seasonal food, some foods you may have eaten before some you may not so food boxes are sort of like Christmas because you get surprises. This arrangement benefits both farmer and eater in a variety of ways, most important to me is receiving pure food and developing relationships with the farmers who grow the food.

Visit the Local Harvest website to learn more about CSAs and to find CSAs near you, your family, and friends because why not give CSA subscriptions to people you care about for birthdays, Christmas, wedding gifts, moving to a new area, etc. The gift of organic food is a terrific gift!

Currently the Local Harvest database lists 213 CSAs in the State of Washington!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Photographs of my visit to Well Fed Farms in Bow, WA

And here are some of the photographs I took at Well Fed Farms - https://picasaweb.google.com/urbansquaw/WellFedFarmsBowWAJuly2011#

Photographs of my visit to Viva Farms in Burlington, WA

To include all of these photographs in the posts below would create a ridiculously endless post so for now I'm going to put extra photographs in Picasa web albums. I may move photographs over time.

Enjoy - https://picasaweb.google.com/urbansquaw/VivaFarmsBurlingtonWAJuly2011#

Featured Farmer - Sarita Schaffer, Director at Viva Farms

Sarita Schaffer, the Director of Viva Farms in Burlington, WA, was the first person to say yes, come on up. So on Friday July 1st I got to see Viva Farms and talk with Sarita and six other farmers. I had a blast and hope to go back soon.




Here's Sarita's engaging and educational response to my question "What is a farmer?" She describes the many hats that modern farmers wear every day.


Everybody gave me such a big welcome and I drove away feeling blessed and intoxicated on inspiration about where this whole idea could lead.

Check out Viva Farms blog because it's a wealth of information.

I don't want to mess with an already fine wheel so here's an existing quote describing the mission of Viva Farms in a nutshell:

"Viva Farms is a project of www.growfood.org, an international non-profit dedicated to recruiting, training and financing the next generation of sustainable farmers. The Viva Farms Incubator Program strengthens new and immigrant farmers by helping them overcome four common barriers to farm entry: 1) access to education, training and technical assistance; 2) access to capital and credit; 3) access to land; and 4) access to markets. Viva Farms offers bilingual Cultivating Success sustainable farming and agricultural business planning courses in partnership with WSU Skagit Extension and WSU's Latino Farming Program."

Graduates of the Cultivating Success series are provided the opportunity to implement their farm business plans (developed in the Agricultural Entrepreneurship course) at the Viva Farms Incubator Farm, located at the Port of Skagit. Incubator farmers enjoy access to greenhouse space, cultivation equipment, wash/process/pack facilities, technical assistance with organic production and business development and support with marketing, sales and distribution."

"Viva Farms is 2/3 of the way through the 3 year transition period for WSDA Organic certification. We employ cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that conserve resources, promote ecological balance, and promote biodiversity. We do not apply any pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or artificial fertilizers. In 2012, we will submit all of our farm records to the WSDA for Organic certification."

HOW WE CAN SUPPORT VIVA FARMS

We can support Viva Farms by making tax deductible donations on their Donate page.

If you live in the area you can subscribe to receive a CSA food box.

If you don't live in the area but know someone who does why not give them the gift of a CSA food box? How cool would that be?!

Volunteer, arrange to go yourself or bring a friend or group.

Featured Farmers - Katharine Isserlis & Erik Olson at Well Fed Farms


On the afternoon of July 1st I spent some time visiting Katharine Isserlis at Well Fed Farms, the farm that she and her husband Erik Olson have in Bow, WA.



I had a great time with Katharine learning about her daily life as a young girl who farms and learning about their farm and the broiler chickens, meeting their Great Pyrenees puppy named Steve, two little pigs, flock of hens (aka the Ladies), and Irene the cow. Katharine tells interesting stories on video and you WILL NOT want to miss the story of how she learned to butcher a chicken. There’s so much cuteness on this farm that I could have stayed a lot longer, I really would have loved to play with the little pigs and given Irene a little brushing just to spend some time with her, not that she needs it she’s a soft cow. As for Steve, that wet-nosed bundle of white fluff could have kept me entertained all day long. I’ll definitely be going back.

Katharine and Erik sell eggs and raise and sell chickens during Spring and Summer and rabbits during Autumn and Winter. They grow some produce and used to offer CSAs but they don’t offer CSAs any longer. During my visit I got some kale and a broiler chicken, both were delicious.

As you can see, the video of Katharine is divided in three sections. Enjoy!

Part 1


 Part 2

 Part 3

  
Updates are posted at Well Fed Farms of what meat is available and when, you may even get lucky with some eggs. Go visit Katharine and Erik, they're only a few minutes west off I-5 at the Cook Road exit, super easy to get to.

Well Fed Farms
9402 Avon Allen Road
Bow WA 98232
tel (360) 708-0520
cell (509) 954-1739
http://wellfedfarms.net

Featured Farmers - Nelida Martinez and Lisette Flores at Viva Farms

Nelida and Lisette, the mother-daughter team that farms together as Pure Nelida, are energizer bunnies in disguise. I met them on July 1st, a sunny and warm day, and they were working hard at seeding their land at Viva Farms, happy and beaming smiles so wide you'd think they just won the lottery or something.



They grow over 70 varieties of vegetables along with NW and Oaxacan herbs and other crops. You can see them also at the Mount Vernon and Bow Farmers' Markets. Nelida used to farm other people's soil in an environment thick with toxic chemicals, now she farms her own land at Viva Farms using organic and sustainable methods.

My gut told me there was something special about these women, just a feeling I got standing with them. A couple days later I came across a story about Nelida's history that Sarita Schaffer had posted on Puget Sound Food Network's blog. After reading it I understood my intuition. You must read Nelida's story (click here), INSPIRATION IS GUARANTEED.

In this video Lisette tells a sweet story of family, hard work, and blessings.

Viva Farms is a joint venture of WSU Extension & GrowFood.org, an international non-profit dedicated to helping new farmers get started by providing land, equipment and infrastructure, education, training and technical assistance (bilingual- Eng/Esp), marketing and distribution support and start-up loans.

We can support Viva Farms with tax deductible donations, subscribing to getting CSA food boxes, and volunteering all of which can be done at their website.

Featured Farmer - Regino Flores at Viva Farms

Regino Flores has been farming other people's land all his life. Now he's farming his own soil organically and sustainably at Viva Farms in Burlington, WA.

I met Regino during my visit on July 1st and he shares some stories as we stood in his fragrant red and green strawberry field that smelled absolutely delicious. Regino is a life-long farmer, husband and father (his children include twins). He's happy growing good food for us to eat and hopes we're content eating what he grows. Soon blueberries will added to his crops!



(Thanks to Sarita Schaffer, Director at Viva Farms, for translating for Regino)



Viva Farms is a joint venture of WSU Extension & GrowFood.org, an international non-profit dedicated to helping new farmers get started by providing land, equipment and infrastructure, education, training and technical assistance (bilingual- Eng/Esp), marketing and distribution support and start-up loans.

We can support Viva Farms with tax deductible donations, subscribing to getting CSA food boxes, and volunteering all of which can be done at their website.

Featured Farmer - Dan Leuthy at Viva Farms

Dan Leuthy organically and sustainably farms a variety of crops on an acre of land at Viva Farms.



During my visit on July 1st Dan shared a lot about himself and his journey into farming after a 20+ year career as a physical therapist. Dan's a natural storyteller and I think you'll find him as inspiring as I did.



Viva Farms is a joint venture of WSU Extension & GrowFood.org, an international non-profit dedicated to helping new farmers get started by providing land, equipment and infrastructure, education, training and technical assistance (bilingual- Eng/Esp), marketing and distribution support and start-up loans.

We can support Viva Farms with tax deductible donations, subscribing to getting CSA food boxes, and volunteering all of which can be done at their website.

Featured Farmer - David Youngquist, Program Manager & Field Educator

During my visit to Viva Farms in Burlington, WA, on Friday July 1st one of the people I met was David Youngquist, a humble and very likeable young guy whose family has been farming for over 100 years. Family happily ties David to agriculture and the challenges of farming keep him keeping on.




Viva Farms is a joint venture of WSU Extension & GrowFood.org, an international non-profit dedicated to helping new farmers get started by providing land, equipment and infrastructure, education, training and technical assistance (bilingual- Eng/Esp), marketing and distribution support and start-up loans.

We can support Viva Farms with tax deductible donations, subscribing to getting CSA food boxes, and volunteering all of which can be done at their website.

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm visiting two farms today and meeting the folks behind them

6:00 a.m.:
I'm pretty darn excited to be visiting the good people at Viva Farms in Burlington and Well Fed Farms in Bow today. You'll be learning what I learn soon so stay tuned!

9:00 p.m.:
Back home. What a fun full sunshiny day! I filmed 5 farmers at Viva Farms (including the Director Sarita Schaffer) and Katharine Isserlis at Well Fed Farms. Now comes the indoors stuff ... processing 6 videos and the photographs. Stay tuned!