Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture...reinvented?

Every Wednesday, across the nation, most newspapers print their food section, providing plenty of great reading. I was trawling through the web this morning, looking for interesting articles about local food, when I came across this headline: Ashland farmer reinvents model for community supported agriculture. Hmmmm. Very intriguing, especially for a guy like me who loves CSAs, as a business model, as an eating philosophy and as a semi-cryptic initialism. Each CSA program is unique. There have been a few creative twists tried out over the years, some more effective than others.

Crown S Ranch in the Methow Valley runs a meat and poultry CSA, radically different than the traditional vegetable and fruit shares (a phenomenal way to secure a locally grown Thanksgiving turkey!)

Full Circle Farm, near Carnation, WA, has taken the CSA model and tweaked it to fit a more modern lifestyle, with web-based accounts, multiple share sizes, year-round service, and some exotic foods.

Helsing Junction Farm, outside of Rochester, WA, offers a Foodbank Farm Donation, where "every season we accept donations from our members and we then match those funds, allowing us to deliver CSA boxes directly to families who rely on the food bank for some of their dietary needs." (From their website)

There are CSAs delivered by bicycle (for those who are "hyperlocal"), cut-flower CSAs, winter-only CSAs, harvest-your-own CSAs (the lovechild of CSAs and U-picks), and many other iterations

What did this farmer to to "reinvent" the CSA model? He offered smaller share sizes. Not, in my mind, a "reinvention" of the CSA model, but the farmer's CSA model tweak represents a shift in the reach of and target audience for CSA programs. In the past, CSAs were primarily targeted for the "core" of the local food scene, but in the last five years or so, they have really taken off, spreading outward and adapting to the desires of the so-called "second tier" consumers. It's an interesting trend that both supports the sustainability of local farms and meets increasing market demand.

RIGHT NOW is the best time to sign up for a CSA. Check out the 2009 Puget Sound Fresh CSA Directory to find a program near you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kudos for Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide!

Fresh off the press, our 2009 Puget Sound Fresh Farm guide got a thumbs up from Mark Lovejoy, owner of Garden Treasures nursery and organic farm in Arlington. While we always appreciate getting good feedback on what we do, it makes us do a little jig when our local farmers feel supported.

FYI, a PDF version of the Farm Guide is available on our companion website Here's what Mark emailed last week:

"Just took a PDF look at the 2009 Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide. Looks amazing, great logos, beautiful artwork, and very easy to read and understand with the symbols and the maps.

The guide definitely is the only local print resource many small farms and roadside farms have to get the word out affordably [sic], and to customers who like to do the farm tour thing and eating local.

Great job and well done!"

Thanks Mark. You make us blush!

If you're interested in distributing the guide, contact Mark McIntyre at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Post-taxes rant: ummmm, where's the moneytrain?

Hey gang,

Today, I bring you a little rant, so strap in, hold on, and steel yourself for a tale of greed and corruption! Well, not quite, but still....

Some brief background:

Cascade Harvest Coalition wants to build a better food system in Washington state. Boom. Pretty easy goal to understand, right? But it's also a really broad goal, a large umbrella, if you will. Underneath that umbrella, we house a variety of programs, each designed to tackle a food and farming issue not addressed by government, private enterprise, or other non-profit organization. Why the italics? Because they highlight the fact that our programs are unique to our beautiful state and wonderful communities.

Now the rant. We don't work for free. Our contractors don't work for free. And, while our volunteers work for free, they require management and organization, which isn't free. Our research isn't free. Our time isn't free. Yes, this rant is fueled by my tax-hangover, but it's also fueled by the fact that in the first quarter of 2009 we have fielded more general phone calls and provided more free advice and assistance than any time in the past. People have been dropping into our office like rain in Seattle: it feels like all the time, and just when you think it's over, it starts again. We love that people call us with questions. We love that we can provide a unique service to our community and region. But again, that service ain't free. And yet, event though we provide a unique service, one that is increasing in popularity, it looks like we're gonna be losing more funding. Wha?!?! Yep. As our time becomes scarcer and our services more valuable, we get less funding.

While we are writing more grants and seeking other forms of funding, there's another strange occurrence tied to the uptick in interest in local food: more organizations jumping on the bandwagon, trying to capture a piece of the pie. Again, in general, it's wonderful to see people taking a greater interest in food and farming. But specifically, it means that we are all thrown into a mild-mannered version of the Thunderdome where we compete for the same grants and funding sources. While local ag. is a hot topic, there's still not a ton of funding available. For instance, everyone loves the classic farmer-chef fundraising event...unless you get invited to 15 of them within a three month period! That doesn't pencil out for anyone involved. Too many mouths to feed. Plus, many of the other organizations jump into the fray to try and generate more demand for local food...which is great, but we really need to address the other side of the equation and help generate a greater and better supply of local food. Consumer education and consumer demand are vitally important, but unless we preserve farmland and help new farmers get on that land, all the demand in the world won't matter.

So...what's the point of all of these words? Simple: I ask you to think about the person on the other end of the line when you are requesting a service. Not just for our organization, but for all of those other organizations out there who provide important services, valuable services, unique services that may be in jeopardy of losing large amounts of funding in the coming year. If you value those services, help out by becoming a member or making a small donation.

Okay, here's to hoping that I don't regret this post later today.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Oh happy day! Food Lust tickets now on sale!

Are you ready to party on the farm? Tickets are now on sale for Food Lust 2009 at

Join us for a “down on the farm” celebration of our region’s remarkable bounty with a mouth-watering, multi-course meal prepared by Seattle’s best chefs and local farmers at Fall City Farms, on Saturday, June 6.

The feast (and the fun) begins at 5 PM with drinks, appetizers, and silent auction, followed by dinner, Bottle Brawl, live auction, and Dessert Dash. This year, we’ve added a dash of soulful Cuban music, with SuperSones.

Participating chefs and farmers to date include Brasa, Circa, Fall City Farms, Fall City Roadhouse, Herban Feast, Matt’s in the Market, TASTE at SAM, Stumbling Goat, and Taylor Shellfish with more to come. Participating wineries include Lopez Island Winery, Hoodsport Winery, and Perennial Vintners.

Tickets are $85 per person; all proceeds will benefit Cascade Harvest Coalition.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Follow us on Facebook!

Become a fan of Cascade Harvest Coalition on Facebook. We are trying to utilize new social networking technology to help us connect farmers and consumers.

Join us on Facebook!


--US Food Safety Outdated, Needs Updates, More Inspections

--Portlanders Want Local Food In Local Schools Helps Match Wannabe Gardeners With Backyard Space

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Helpful guide to meat labels

Check out this helpful, printable, foldable guide. Of course, if you buy locally raised meat, you can just ask the farmer...


Friday, April 3, 2009

Food Lust 2009 Tickets on Sale April 15 -- Celebrate Local Food with Cascade Harvest Coalition!

Food Lust wants you!

While the IRS is clamoring for your taxes, you deserve a fresh on-the-farm, gourmet al fresco gala. Yep.

Starting Wednesday, April 15, tickets for Food Lust 2009 will be available online at

Tickets are $85 per person and include a mouth-watering, multi-course meal prepared by Seattle’s best chefs and local farmers in celebration of this region’s remarkable bounty, as well as the accomplishments of Cascade Harvest Coalition and its supporting members.

The fun begins at 5 PM with drinks, appetizers, and silent auction, followed by dinner, Bottle Brawl, live auction, and Dessert Dash. We’ve also decided to add a dash of Cuban soul, with live music by SuperSones.

Teaser alert: Participating chefs and farmers to date include Brasa, Circa, Herban Feast, Matt’s in the Market, TASTE at SAM, Stumbling Goat and Taylor Shellfish with more to come.

Stay tuned for more updates – we’re lining up amazing auction items and of course, desserts that will make you swoon with pleasure.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2009 Farm Guides are here!

Yee-haw! The 2009 Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guides have arrived. This year, we have a completely re-designed guide thanks to Lida Enche-Keene, our go-to graphic design artist and illustrator. Here's a taste of what's inside:

Huge thanks to everyone who helped make this wonderful publication possible! If you are interested in getting your hands on some guides, please let me know:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009 Local Farm Walk Schedule Announced!

Tilth Producers of Washington and WSU Small Farms Team present:

2009 Farm Walk Schedule

Monday April 13 - Terry's Berries, Tacoma

Recordkeeping in a Diversified Vegetable & Fruit Operation, 12:30pm-4pm

Terry's Berries is a 20-acre diversified organic vegetable and fruit farm that markets produce through an extensive CSA, on-farm store and farmers markets. Terry will share the specific recordkeeping tools she uses to plan, stay organized and track information during her extended production and marketing season. She will share her forms, systems and ideology, including CSA planning and tracking, organic certification records, greenhouse planning and planting, capturing harvest information, and ways to use records for planning future farm improvements. (Organic)

Monday April 27 - Lopez Island Farm, Lopez Island

Pastured Pigs and Soil Fertility, 10am-1pm

Bruce Dunlop is a grass farmer and meat producer who utilizes rotational grazing to optimize soil nutrients. Pig manure fertilizes fall-planted pasture which feeds sheep in subsequent years. A Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) farmer grant is helping Bruce compare soil fertility in plots with pigs pastured under different rotation regimes. See and discuss early results of this on-going research with Bruce and WSU faculty collaborators Tom Schultz and Craig Cogger. Sheep breeding, offal composting, meat production, processing, and marketing methods, and the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative USDA certified mobile meat processing unit will also be discussed. Special Note: Attendees should plan to board the ferry from Anacortes at 8:50 am and board return ferry from Lopez Island at 1:50 or 4:55 pm. Roundtrip fares: passenger: $10.95; vehicle + driver: $26.60; bicycle surcharge: $2.00. See for shuttle information. (Sustainable)

Monday, May 18 - Monteillet Fromagerie, Dayton

French Cheesemaking in the Walla Walla Valley, 12:30pm-3:30pm (followed by optional wine & cheese tasting)

Monteillet Fromagerie was the first artisan cheese farmstead in the Walla Walla Valley of Southeastern Washington and features a Grade A dairy and cheese making facility. On 31-acres, Joan and Pierre Louis Monteillet intensively manage pasture for Alpine goats, East Freisan-Lacaune sheep, poultry and pigs. Throughout the production of traditional hand ladled chevres (goat) and brebis (sheep) milk cheeses, the Monteillets strive to foster a lifestyle that is creative physically and spiritually, as well as economically. Following the farm walk, Joan will host an optional cheese & wine tasting for an additional $15. (Transitioning to Biodynamic)

Monday June 8 - Crown S Ranch, Winthrop

Organic Animal Husbandry, 12:30pm-4pm

Crown S Ranch is a 120-acre, pasture-based organic farm owned and operated by the Sukovaty-Argraves family. Engineers by training, Louis and Jennifer have combined innovative, modern technologies with sustainable, old-fashioned practices to create humane, economically and environmentally-sound animal husbandry systems that are "better for the animals, better for the environment, and better for you." Farm Walk participants will discuss techniques for integrating cows, pigs, turkeys, chickens and lamb using management-intensive pasture rotations. Come see their solar powered chicken train and learn about nutrient recycling to minimize off-farm inputs (closed farming system), on-farm organic hay, grain and feed production, and meat processing. (Organic)

Monday June 22 - Estrella Family Creamery, Montesano

Artisan Cheese Production, 12:30pm-4pm

Estrella Family Creamery is a 164-acre grass-based dairy located in the Wynoochee Valley of Southwest Washington. Kelli and her family make twenty different types of aged cheeses by hand, several of which have received national and international awards. Cows and goats graze in organically-maintained pastures and are fed alternative forages such as oat hay and fodder beets. Tour the farm and see the cheese making operation, including five separate cheese aging rooms, each with its own unique environment. The Estrellas sell their cheese at Seattle farmer's markets, local retail stores, and an on-farm store on Saturdays. (Organic/Sustainable)

Monday July 13 - Let Us Farm, Oakville

Organic Mixed Vegetable Production and Farmer Transition, 12:30pm-4pm

Steve Hallstrom and Cecelia Boulais have converted a defunct 80-acre dairy on the Chehalis River to a productive organic mixed vegetable farm. Produce is sold through farmers markets and the Olympia Food Cooperative. Steve and Cecelia strive for sustainability through utilizing summer and winter cover crops and field rotations; conservation tree planting and habitat strips. Tour the greenhouses, hoop houses and fields. See innovative farmer housing including a converted silo, milk-tank suite and dining parlor. In partnership with Cascade Harvest Coalition's FarmLink Program, Steve and Cecelia will share how they "grow farmers," and discuss their plan to transition the operation to the next generation. (Organic)

Thursday July 30 - WSU Field Day and Organic Farm, Pullman

Current University Research and Teaching in Organic Farming - Eastern Washington, 9:30am-1pm

Come discover the latest research and hands-on teaching methods being tested at the Washington State University (WSU) Organic Farm in Pullman, including a four-year study of diverse winter and summer vegetables grown in unheated, unlit field hoop houses to increase production efficiency. The farm operates a 105-member fruit and vegetable CSA, selling to the local community. Students provide the bulk of the labor as part of their academic program. Tour the farm with the farmers, researchers, and students guiding the discussions. Visitors will be introduced to current student projects and faculty research plots. (Organic)

Monday August 3 - WSU Field Day and Organic Farm, Puyallup

Current University Research in Organic Farming - Western Washington, 1pm-4pm

WSU Puyallup's experimental organic farm highlights a wide variety of organic practices and research plots. The organic farming and nutrient management research team has partnered with berry researchers to evaluate day-neutral strawberry varieties. The organic strawberry trial will run for three years and early results will be shared during the farm walk. Pastured sheep have recently been added to the system, helping researchers understand soil quality and fertility changes with the addition of pasture to a vegetable rotation. Pastured poultry have been part of the experimental farm since its inception-chickens and mobile chicken tractors will be on display. Other topics include Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for food safety and drip irrigation. (Organic)

Monday August 17 - Alvarez Farms, Mabton

Large Scale Diversified Vegetable Row Crops, 12:30pm-4pm

The 120-acre Alvarez Farm is located in the upper Yakima Valley, with its rich volcanic soil, relatively moderate climate, and abundant irrigation water from the Yakima River. Hilario and Soledad Alvarez grow over 200 varieties of vegetables and melons, including a large diversity of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, peas, beets, green onions, corn, okra, garlic, summer and winter squash, peanuts and more. Produce is sold throughout the Yakima Valley and through farmers markets in the Puget Sound region. More than 120 varieties of peppers and 50 varieties of tomatoes are grown from seeds harvested from their own crop. By taking soil tests every three years, the Alvarez family carefully monitors key soil indicators and organic matter content to ensure the long-term health of their farmland. Farm Walk attendees will see the entire operation, learn about soil monitoring and improvement, and how to make water-based pest spray using garlic cloves. (Organic)

Monday September 28th - Blue Dog Farm, Carnation

Berry Production, Static Composting, and Raising Children while Farming, 12:30pm-4pm

Owners Amy and Scott Turner will share information and host discussions on a wide range of topics while we tour their dynamic community-rich farm. These farmers will share how they are changing Blue Dog Farm into a more diverse and integrated farm by combining vegetable and fruit production with animal and feed production. With berries as the main crop, attendees will see a variety of weed and disease control practices for small acreage fresh market blueberries and raspberries. Another main highlight at Blue Dog Farm is the static aerated pile method for composted mulch. Learn about the benefits of different compost ingredients, equipment, recordkeeping, testing, and best final use. Amy and Scott will also talk about the challenges and benefits of raising children while actively farming. (Organic)

Farm Walk Logistics - Complete details at

* Beverages are provided.
* Cost is $10 for Tilth Producers members; $15 for non-members; for student group rate, inquire at (206) 442-7620
* Driving directions available at
* Register on-site or pre-register by mailing a check with your farm walk choice(s) to:

Tilth Producers of Washington
PO Box 85056, Seattle, WA 98145

Tilth Producers Membership is encouraged to help support the Farm Walk Program. ($45 regular or $30 low-income) Member benefits include a subscription to Tilth Producers Quarterly, a Directory of organic growers and resources, discounts for farm walks and the annual conference, free listing in Tilth Intern Placement Service, Directory and email news. For more information: (206) 442-7620 or

Tilth Producers of Washington promotes ecologically sound, economically viable and socially equitable farming practices that improve the health of our communities and natural environment.

Tilth Producers of Washington
P.O. Box 85056
Seattle WA 98145

Nancy Allen, Administrative Director

Visit the Tilth Producers website: