the season is closing soon. one more csa distribution, one more farmer’s market. farmstand open indefinitely.
here are some photos, all taken by leila.
We will be open on Sunday September 25 from 10am-4pm. Here’s a chance to check out a lot of neat farms & take free tours. Our good friend Meredith Molli will be doing a cooking demo at noon. Hope to see you then!
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Although I spent many hours attempting to stave-off rampant Morning Glory by pulling out yards of intertwined roots extending in jute-like strands up-to thirty feet long beneath the eaves of our peaked, brown house, it was all about the food for me. Vegetables I wanted to grow, and vegetables I planted.
At the library, I stumbled across a copy of Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, by Steve Solomon, which remains an oft-referenced book on my shelf to this day. My indoors-focused roommates wondered what I was possibly doing for hours outside beneath the canopy of cherry, Italian plum, and maple trees that draped over the food I’d planted.
I dug in the dirt, strung trellises for peas, and watched aphids devour my broccoli before its trophy-head even began to form. Very little food came out of that space, but it built upon a curiosity I’d gained while travelling in New Zealand, WOOFING on organic farms and harvesting apples to earn money for gas. I purchased a beat-up Austin Mini while travelling that southern nation, and the need for funds to keep travelling propelled me later in life in a direction I don’t think I otherwise would ever have seen.
Meanwhile, my parents grew flowers in the yard of their place in Bellingham. Driven by ideals and wanting to share them, I complained.
“Try growing vegetables,” I urged them.
“But we like our flowers,” was the reply.
“You can’t eat them!”
“They are easier to grow.”
“What do you do with them? They are not food!”
“We enjoy them,” was the consistent message voiced from my grounded and patient parents.
Now, years later, as I cultivate two relentless acres with my partners-of-the-farm, flowers have squeaked into the rotation here on Vashon–and my father’s veggie patch in Bellingham is getting more significant with each seasonal turn.
We grow flowers at Island Meadow to attract pollinators. They increase our crop rotations. Sweet peas have also been a good seller in the farmstand since they came on this year in June. But, most importantly, we grow them because they are beautiful. Those flowers stand tall with their multi-colored blossoms and force you to appreciate life’s temperate and subtle charms.
I was reminded of this earlier today, while cutting the sweet peas from our two trellises. Usually on harvest days either Caitlin or Chandler sneaks out early to the tune of, “I’m going to cut the sweet peas now.” Without thinking much of it, I’d not yet had the chance to bring them in this season. They were crafty, and had a corner on the flower harvesting market at our place. Until today. The scent of nectar and swath of pastel colors, drying from a rain that lasted through the night and well into the morning, relaxed me upon standing before the fragrant blooms. A friend visited the farm for a few days recently and dragged her sleeping bag out to the sweet pea rows to sleep during a stretch of clear, warm nights. I can see now clearly why.
All of this is to say two things here.
It’s interesting what life bestows upon us, and how. In my case, that gift is flowers. Once the bane of my veggie-growing aspirations, a unnecessary occupier of precious and limited space. Now a charm, a requirement, an unsaid parental “I told you so.”
Secondly, it is always amazing what you can pass by daily without fully appreciating. I’d seen those flowers hundreds of times, but not like I did this morning.
Neither of these are new ideas. But it took the sweet peas to make me notice.
– Greg Reed
Wendell Berry is speaking in Seattle on Tuesday.
The old idea is still full of promise. It is potent with healing and with health. It has the power to turn each person away from the big-time promising and planning of the government, to confront in himself, in the immediacy of his own circumstances and whereabouts, the question of what methods and ways are best. It proposes an economy of necessities rather than an economy based upon anxiety, fantasy, luxury, and idle wishing. It proposes the independent, free-standing citizenry that Jefferson thought to be the surest safeguard of democratic liberty. And perhaps most important of all, it proposes an agriculture based upon intensive work, local energies, care, and long-living communities—that is, to state the matter from a consumer’s point of view: a dependable, long-term food supply.
…though we feel that this work must go onward, we are not so certain that it will. But the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.
—Wendell Berry, from The Unsettling of America, 1977
1. I cannot plant onions before May in an overwintered sod field at the bottom of a big hill in the coldest year since 1950. And if I try, I will plant into very grassy, clumpy messy soil. But at least I can do it with my best friends on a Friday night while watching the sun sinking into the Olympic mountains while listening to Stevie Wonder.