Monday, December 29, 2008
We have been enjoying fruits, tomatoes, shallots, fruit yums and humor from Jerry Pipetone for about 5 years. On one trip East, we called Jerry up and asked to camp in his orchard. Pipetone farm is located in Rock Island, WA. A beautiful little spot at the base of a steep hill with lots of birdsong. A very ennjoyable camping experience. We got to see the magic of his processing kitchen where those fabulous Fruit Yums and syrups come from. We found the big drying ovens especially fascinating. This time of year we especially appreciate those treasured flavors of preserved sunshine. That sweet-tart taste of dried apricots and tomatoes. Nectarine Yum swirled in hot oatmeal. Thanks Jerry, Andrea and the farm family!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Most sensible critters quiet down, rest and restore during these dark cold times. I always feel inclined to do the same. After one of the most challenging years of our life, we are grateful for this slow quiet time to relax, reflect and plan for the new year.
Wishing one and all a happy, prosperous new year.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thanks to the Vojkovich family for doing the right thing, raising beef, pork and eggs we feel good about eating, and being good friends over the past 7 years. We began buying from S.R.R. at the Columbia City Farmer's Market in 2001. When starting our business, we knew that we could only serve beef from Skagit River Ranch. This is the most delicious and healthy meat around.
One market day, someone asked how we could call ourselves "Green" and serve meat! While we are aware of the atrocities of industrial meat production, we would not ever serve that kind of meat, and we consider this organic, local meat to be in a different food category all together. How so? First, we have visited Skagit River Ranch, you can too. The farm is green and beautiful and managed in a more sustainable manner than many large vegetable farms. The cows and other animals on the farm eat what they want (and are biologically evolved) to eat, so they remain naturally healthy and don't need drugs. Animals are not confined concentration-camp style. Cows are not shipped, stressed or tortured by an industrial meat packing facility. The USDA approved mobile slaughtering unit comes right to the farm, so a cow's last moments are peaceful right there in the field that has been home. Also, this farm is within 100 miles of Seattle, so very little fuel is used in transport. We are helping to maintain green places when we support local farms like Skagit River Ranch. I'm sure even the most ardent vegan would rather see this farm remain a farm than a subdivision.
Then there's the whole human aspect. Eiko and George have offered us lots of helpful business advice, consulting, an occasional reality check and friendship. We were tickled pink when another farmer tasted our burger and was amazed by how GREAT the beef was! He said he also raises cows, takes good care of them and they are delicious, but ours may be even better.
Thanks Vojkovich Family!
Friday, November 21, 2008
We were about ready to scrap the market program after our difficulties last summer, but Dev had some simple great ideas to re-tool our menu, so I think it will work better now.
Thanks a million Dev!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
On Tuesday, we had a super fun trip to Nash's Organic Farm in Sequim, WA. The farm lies spread over several fields in the fertile Dungeness River Delta. Our favorite item is Nash's Carrots, we always have a 5 lb. bag in the refrigerator. We also love the friendly folks at the farmer's markets. A huge THANK YOU to Kia who gave us most of her day, taking us on an extended tour of the farm and sharing a wealth of knowledge with us. The farm has a great story, here is my rough re-telling...Nash Huber started growing veggies in various vacant patches of land about 25 years ago, he and his crew still grow on various rented fields in the area, they sell produce at Farmer's Markets, to PCC and a few larger wholesalers. A few years ago, through the PCC Farmland Trust project they acquired the 80 acre Delta Farm which is their only chunk of land saved for farming forever. This part of the farm used to be a dairy, it has a beautiful old barn, fields, happy pigs, various fowl, and a crew of dedicated folks who make it all happen. While we enjoyed the whole farm, I think the Delta Farm was our favorite...we loved being with the happy pigs foraging in the field, "talking turkey" with the big flock of (soon to be eaten) beautiful turkeys, being honked and chased by the riotous geese, the various sizes and colors of chickens, the big Combine pulling into the barn, watching Nash work, seeing how Sunchokes grow, snacking from the fields....I could go on and on....or you could go for a visit next time you're on the Peninsula. Thanks KIA!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
A special Thanks to the many people who made the evening a success, Farhad for his house, Otto Family for pickles, bread, friendship and every type of support under the sun, Murfin Family for support and friendship, Skagit River Ranch for Beef, Rockridge Orchards for Cider, Tall Grass for Bread, Joni for making the extra effort, Town and Country for the straw the kids had a blast playing in, market folks for making the trip, every person who attended.
Working together for change and strong community.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We had a great time at an Autumn Harvest Celebration on Jubilee Farm. Tom Douglas Company hosted a fun employee party, and since it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, several hundred additional people were enjoying hayrides, pumpkin harvesting,and farm fun in general.
Alert!! Do you value your local farms?
Many local farmers would not be here without the King County Agriculture Program. The Ag program’s funding is threatened in this year’s county budget cuts. If this program disappears, your Farmers Market farmers lose their advocates within county government.
There are tremendous growth pressures within our metropolitan-oriented King County. Development does not support farmers. We need to make sure that local farmers will continue to be supported at the government level - otherwise, the precious farmland we do have left will be lost to development.
The King County Ag Program:
1.) fights to protect and preserve farmland against development pressures. Flooding is a big problem.
2.) helps farmers face challenges with land use regulations and reduces red tape and permit costs.
3.) provides marketing and economic development support to our local farmers.
Call or email your county council members! The Council is accepting electronic testimony of up to 300 words. Please tell them how much you value your local farmers market and local farmers.
Most importantly, tell council members to keep the Ag Program funded in the next budget cycle.
We in King County are on the leading edge of the movement to grow our food locally. The county council needs to hear from you ASAP! They discuss and vote on next year’s budget through mid November.
Ron Sims, County Executive. 206.296.4040 firstname.lastname@example.org
Farmers are a county-wide asset. We must keep our farmlands protected if we believe in the value of a local food source.
The Ag program is already in place and already advocates for the farmers. Let’s keep this valuable part of our county bureaucracy. The King County Ag Program brings farmers to the city, and protects the farmers. Please call soon and make your voice heard.
More about the King County Agriculture Program:
Many people are aware of the very visible marketing and market development work that the King County Agriculture Program undertakes. However, this is only one piece of the program. The Ag Program provides an extensive set of essential services for individual farmers and small groups of farmers to keep them on the land. These services represent the hidden costs of keeping agriculture in a metropolitan area and are difficult for city people to see because they happen in the rural areas. The Ag Program staff work on the challenges that farmers face trying to farm in a rapidly developing region so that the farmers, themselves, can continue to spend their time and money on production.
Farmer Support Services:
- Address drainage (getting water off the fields), wetland expansion, mitigation projects, water supply (getting water on the land), road widening, development on neighboring lands
- Promote and develop ag friendly land use policies, regulations, permits, tax incentives and code enforcement
- Negotiate conflicts with ag on issues such as endangered species, beavers, wetland mitigation, water quality, flood safety standards, with local state and federal agencies.
Land and Resource Protection:
- Farmland Preservation Program: Over the past 29 years, the FPP has purchased development rights on 13,200 acres of prime agriculture lands in King County. On an ongoing basis, the program procures funding to buy more development rights, and works to ensure that covenants are kept over time even as farming changes on the land.
- FPP ensures we have land that is permanently available to farm.
- Current Use Taxation: Helps farmers by reducing the taxes on the land being farmed for commercial purposes.
Successful agriculture in King County requires coordination with other regions and agencies. Staff work with neighboring counties, state and federal agencies to ensure farmers can continue to farm in the county.
Thank you for your support of local agriculture!
Friday, October 17, 2008
So come out on Election Night, bring the kids, celebrate the remaining vestiges of democracy, get to know new friends and small business people in our community.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Community is the focus for now. When it's difficult to escape the drumbeats of gloom and doom, we need to pull together and support one another. Think of the covered wagons crossing the vast unfamiliar prairie....at night forming in a tight circle for protection. Think of immigrant communities...living in tight communities, supporting one another.
It seems that a lot of current problems have been created by sending our business overseas rather then strengthening our own neighborhoods. Am I blaming free trade and the global economy for US economic problems? Sort of. I think purchasing coffee directly from our farmer/friend Arturo of Sol Colibri Coffee in Costa Rica is great, I think buying cheap plastic toys from China is not good for anyone.
Before this gets too political, I will say let's try to work with and support the folks in our Northwest communities. I am hoping lots of people come to Cultureyard on the 25th and take advantage of a networking opportunity as well as a chance to eat good food and spend quality time with family and friends.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
In the past week, we owe a huge thanks to Victoria for working on our website and tipping us to the research, Gari for doing photography, Amy for counsel, the nice folks at Fieldwork Seattle, Mea for asking for a cake, MaryDell for babysitting, Sarah for one more shift, Scary and Laura for babysitting, T.D. empire for employment, Jeff Miller for the pep talk, Otto GardenCare for employment, farmers for good food....That's just this week.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A recurring theme this week seems to be that wise old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover". Sometimes, I approach a table at my waitressing job, I hear a certain accent and I cringe, that nasty little voice in my head muttering things about food ignorance, bad tippers, BUT I ignore it, remember that everyone has their story, and try to learn what I can from this encounter.
In the food service industry, I am constantly amazed by the interesting people who work in restaurants. Lots of people work restaurants because they offer decent cash and fairly short hours. Off the top of my head, I can think of a school principal, a teacher, a film maker, a photographer, a former monk, an accountant, all working in one restaurant.
Then, today I was listening to talk radio and they were interviewing Washington farmers, and this one farmer was telling a familiar story about how farmer's sons left the farm, got college educations, then ended up coming back to work the farm. So out in the rural countryside, you have these scruffy looking guys driving dirty pick-up trucks, managing dusty fields with law degrees, or economic degrees, or anything else under the sun. Just another reason to get to know your friendly market farmer!
Then there is the uglier side of this, the "lipstick on a pig" side. Dylan occasionally works catering for a big fancy catering company. They have a beautiful web site, lots of bling, a fat marketing campaign. They were serving a party "Kobe beef sliders", but these were actually pre-formed, industrial beef from a large foodservice warehouse. YUCK! This campany promotes themselves as organic and local and all the buzz, but time and time again, they just buy inferior product from mass distributors. WHY? Because it's cheap and easy. When you're busy with lots of marketing and drumming up business to support your bling, not much money or time leftover for the food. SO The company with the snazziest website is not necessarily the company with the best food.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
August was a terrible financial month for us..Money sucking Pioneer Days, Rainy weather, Late tax payment, Lame sales at Lake Forest due to a "Wal Mart" style food vendor.
YAAAARGH! On one hand, it's tempting to say, "well, clearly people will pay to eat industrial food, let's just buy the cheap stuff and make a big profit." But then we would not be doing the rigt thing.
I guess we need to accept that we can not make a living selling really good food at Farmer's Markets. Tough to swallow, but That's the bottom line.
So, we'll wrap it up, consider it a good education and social experiment, move on to catering, pay our debt and work smarter towards our next venture.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
We sure enjoyed the Blues for Food Fest this weekend. After the dismal loss at Lake City, we thought festivals would NOT be for us, but we did this one as it was a benefit for P-Patch, and we figured it would be our target demographic. Great music, great people, a fabulous setting at Magnuson Park's P-Patch. A lot of people worked very hard on this wonderful event for a great cause. Special thanks to Deb Rock and Cholo Willsin.
This cool, wet August weather had one benefit to our victory garden....more Peas! Here in late August, we were still harvesting big fat sweet snap peas! Our cherry tomatoes are ripening, our sunflowers are opening beautifully, we've got lots of nice herbs, a few pumpkins getting fat and beginning to ripen. Our victory garden has been a great success, now we are making plans to begin potting up the things we want to keep, ripping out the rest, and spreading all that rich garden soil around to plant wretched grass for our landlord. How can anyone think that plastic wrapped "food" from who knows where in the grocery store is preferable to growing your own real food? Grumble grumble sigh.
Anyway, the preparations begin to move to our own little slice of the American dream. Don't know where or how or when, just gotta believe and be open and ready, and I know for certain, the only grassy "lawn" we'll be maintaining will be for our animals to graze.
Friday, August 22, 2008
We had a wonderful visit to this organic small family farm in Royal City, WA. We've been buying Melons and other goodies from Tonnemakers, and when employed by a CSA program we used their produce. A beautiful oasis in the desert. Maxine runs the farmstand and she is such a warm WOW kind of lady! She gave us lots of delicious samples and a huge dose of inspiration.
Curt and Cole are brothers who run the farm, you'll see Curt regularly at Seattle Markets. We appreciate them taking time to chat with us. Nice guys who believe in what they are doing. They began working on the farm when it was their grandparents' homestead.
A couple goats, a couple horses, a bunch of chickens, lots of kittens all add to the mix of joyous characters. Wandering back into the fields to enjoy the plants and animals truly brings a sense of peace and hope.
It's about 140 miles south east of Seattle, close to great recreation at the Potholes Reservoir. Wildlife refuge, golf, camping, FARMS. A fabulous late summer getaway.
Thanks Tonnemakers Crew!
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
We have been fortunate to work for Tom Douglas restaurants for the past few years. We still work there when we have down times from GreenGo. There are lots of perks to this company, this weekend was the company party, dubbed "Beast Feast" at Tom And Jackie's farm in Prosser. They are very generous people and gracious hosts. We had lots of fun, Tom threw down a huge feast. We camped. The following morning, I reported to breakfast duty in the kitchen, and got to have some special time with Tom and Jackie. I got to cut cantaloupes while Tom whisked his delicious bacon gravy and Jackie whipped up fabulous biscuits. Unfortunately, I was tired and not yet caffeinated, so my conversation skills were not too sharp, but looking back, I am so lucky! I got to stand and cut cantaloupe beside restauranteur extrordinaire, James Beard award recipient, and Iron Chef Winner Tom Douglas, in his kitchen. 6 years ago, it was a big thrill just to see the man in public, or even, gasp, have him come into the restaurant I was working in! We are fortunate to be surrounded and supported by great people.
Thanks Tom and Jackie!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
We'll return to Columbia City rejuvenated by Wednesday. Living the further mucking dream!
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
An AA-Ha Moment! August 9, our friends got married and we got to cook for the after-party. It was a super-fun backyard party. While preparing for the job, and working the party, we realized that THIS is what we are supposed to be doing. We've each done a gazillion catering jobs for various companies, but when it's your own food and set-up, it's so much better! We prepared the food with love and pride. A co-worker invited me to come cut beautiful flowers from his yard, which I did, and thoroughly enjoyed arranging them in several fun ways. There were really great guests who made us feel that warm fuzzy sense of community.
So now we have a better idea of direction....we need to stay in Washington because this is where we have connections and community. We need to do catering because we know how, we like it, and there's less risk since the food is already paid for. There's also so much room for fun and creativity and combining our many skills to make a profit.
So here is our prayer to the universe...A very small kitchen of our own where we can do small eat-in and take-out, along with catering prep. We would also like to use this kitchen as a community gathering place, think canning or pickling parties, kids cookie parties, jack-o-lantern carving parties. We also need a home where we can grow lots of food, including chickens and rabbits. Ideally very close to where we will work, or longer distance if easily commuted with transit and bike.
So congratulations Lindsey and Pat, Thanks for the best night of work ever, and helping us find our way!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Do we get a storefront to do small-time take-out and catering while we practice small agriculture on a large suburban lot?
Do we go farm a friend's land in Washington wine country and do catering for wineries while we grow food for restaurants and ourselves?
Do we mothball GreenGo Food and go back to working "McJobs" while we figure out what to do in the spring?
I keep talking to friends and acquaintances who share our vision of a farm and sustainable food-based community, several people seem very enthusiastic and even motivated, but enthusiasm doesn't buy land or equipment or seeds.......
We're open to whatever guidance comes our way...
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The Lesson: Average Joe America does not care! Does not care about the atrocities of industrial agriculture, meat processing, environmental devastation, or the list goes on and on..... They just want to feed their faces with greasy, crappy food.
The Teacher: Lake City Pioneer Days. Yup, we were warned, but we thought, "It's our neighborhood, our community, we do well at Lake City Farmer's Market. Our friendly banker said it would be great. It's a calculated risk, which every entrepreneur must be willing to take."
The Loss: Somewhere around $1,000. (Health permit-$226, Stall Fee-$150, Babysitter all day-$120, Help-$45, Lots of our labor, and food)
This was a very sad wake-up call. Our great Farmer's Market Customers are apparently the exception rather than a norm. Even with all the mainstream "Green" drum-beating, people still aren't making any real changes. They wanted nasty industrial burgers from the trailer 3 stalls down. (Which we had no idea would be there, the chamber of commerce organizer did not have the decency to tell us, despite knowing the gamble we were taking and being familiar with our product) They wanted yucky smelling chicken and rice bowls with mass-produced MSG sauces from 5 gallon buckets.
We will shut down GreenGo Food before we will serve thoughtless, industrial, cheap food. It's wrong on so many levels. We are operating a values-driven business. Will we make it? We're not sure.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sunday, after market, we did a guest cooking demo. with Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon, the authors of the book Plenty. We really enjoyed the book and the opportunity to spontaneously whip up some simple, local good food.
We are excited to be serving herbs and flowers from our garden in the markets this week! Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, chives, Nasturtiums, mint, Bachelor Buttons, Dill....
COLUMBIA CITY and NFMA, we really, really, really appreciate you! This week again the peeps in Columbia City blew us away with super support! We really would not be making this fledgling business fly without you! To the hard-working market managers who Make the markets happen, thank you for being organized and promoting the markets. Thanks farmers and co-vendors for providing great food!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
An ultra special thanks to Rick and Lora Lea of Quillisascut cheese andQuillisascut school of the Domestic Arts. (Farm School) We've had the good fortune of attending classes with them, hanging out with the goats and experiencing great shifts of perspective and awareness . I'd love to tell you about how your life will never be the same, but I'll just say You should go there. Go milk goats and make cheese, harvest dinner, learn to preserve produce like people have since the beginning, discover a new respect for ...Everything.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
We have so many blessings...we are grateful for all of them. When we struggle, we need to remind ourselves that "Pain is weakness leaving the body"
Here are a few great things from the past week..
1.Rebekah Denn from the PI gave us a super shout out which we didn't even see until someone pointed it out to us! Thanks Rebekah!
2.Stevens Hospital has given us financial assistance for 2 ER visits which were big heavy bills looming over us! Thanks to the good folks at Stevens!
3.The great folks in Columbia City supported us in a huge way yesterday, and now we will make our rent! Thanks Columbia City!
4.Dylan's mom has saved strawberry plants for many years, and we have moved them several times and they are very hardy, great producers. Last night after the rain, I "had" to go harvest berries so they didn't get ruined. Our dog loves the rejects. Thanks MaryDell and old strawberry plants!
Monday, June 30, 2008
The answer I've realized, is simple....It's fast and easy.
We spend many hours hunting down the finest local goods from our small local farmers. During our Sunday market we take time from our stand to look around and see what looks good and affordable, and we brainstorm a sauce for the upcoming week. Then we go around and get 10 pounds of Zucchini from Bautista and line up 6 pounds of greens from Growing WA, some onions here, snap peas there. Then we order buns from 2 different bakeries, we buy cheddar cheese retail for our burgers because we insist that it be local and hormone-free....... In short, we seem to be lacking in efficiency, but we're working on it, and we're doing what we feel is the right thing. It feels really good to spread love around to lots of small people doing good work.
But then we see that lots of people don't care, they're happy to gobble nasty preserved, processed, factory farmed particle meat hot dogs from who knows where, and I wonder, "Is it worth it? or are we just deluding ourselves and making things harder than necessary?"
Friday, June 27, 2008
Here we are, summer's finally here, the markets are rocking, we're loving feeding the same great customers each week at the markets. We're always tweaking things and testing new things and getting great ideas from our market peeps. We're also getting serious about our growth to a "farmy" place where we grow the food we cook/serve at the markets.
This fall, we are striving to purchase a property for farming and a commercial kitchen, and a teaching event retreat/camp. We're talking to all sorts of people and hoping to make the right connections to make it happen. Ideally we would like to be within 2 hours or Seattle or Portland. 2-5 acres, agricultural and small commercial zoning. A modest livable house, a decent shop to convert to a kitchen.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Sunday, June 15 is Father's Day, and the super ensemble, VamoLa will be performing at the Lake Forest Park Farmer's Market! This is gonna be so awesome! I have seen VamoLa perform several times, most recently a kick-ass show at Folklife. They consist of an amazing drum line, and a few smoking hot ladies dancing sexy Samba in Carnival-style costumes. A day at the market, yummy local food, hot drum and dance. YEAH BABY! This is a dream come true!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Here are the men-folk building a couple new beds. We asked our landlord if we could turn the front yard into a big garden.....he said he'd have to think about it, we haven't heard back. They're pretty specific about lawn mowing, edging, etc. So we're building a few raised beds in the front. We'll put our real pretty stuff like flowers and tomatoes out there. These should be inoffensive.
Sometimes it seems like people are becoming generally more aware and concerned about environmental issues. But then we encounter folks without the slightest awareness of waste or impact and feel like our baby steps are being undone constantly.
We'll just keep planting the Victory Garden and serving good food from good farms...
Monday, May 12, 2008
No real direct competition for us here. We love our friends at Patty Pan, Growing WA, Anita's, but oh the joy of an unsaturated market!
We're thinking we will drop U-district and pick up Juanita Beach on Friday nights. Summer Sunsets on Lake Washington while serving good food to the people sounds great! Then, our Saturdays will be free for picking up private events, or having Family day at Carkeek park.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Our tender seedlings were just sprouting when last week's hail battered us. But simple fabric saved our new Nasturtiums, lettuce and cilantro. We are so excited to use edible flowers and herbs grown organically ourselves!
Saturday, April 5, 2008
I'm sorry to Wade at Rockridge Orchards who's always so patient, despite Cypress trying to double dip in the honey sample, then knocking the cup of sample sticks over. I guess he's just made himself too much "at home" at the Farmer's Markets.
Here in the Northwest, this seems like the bleakest time for local food. Spring is here, warm weather is near, but all we've got are greens, roots, and cold stored apples. So we look forward to summer when we estimate about 95% Washington grown produce!