Washington State Magazine

Winter 2012


Winter 2012

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In This Issue...

Features

Feasting on the Salish Sea :: About 650 years ago, inhabitants of a large plank house on Galiano Island abandoned it for unknown reasons. But not before they feasted on 10,000 sea urchins. by Tim Steury

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Slideshow: Archaeology on Galiano Island }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Seascapes from Salish Sea, Study 2 by David Ellingsen }

A Summer of Science :: Over nine short weeks this summer, undergraduate Laurel Graves helped develop one of the first research projects to measure how much carbon wheat consumes and releases. “The entire world, all 7 billion people,” she says, “and we’re the only ones doing this thing. It’s kind of a crazy thought.” by Eric Sorensen

The Law and the Land :: Indian law attorney and Colville tribal member Brian Gunn ’95 took on the challenge of his grandfather and brought home a gratifying settlement for years of federal mismanagement of Indian trust lands. by Hannelore Sudermann

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Brian Gunn and the land of the Colville Tribes }

Essay

The Ethics of Climate Change :: A political scientist, a geologist, a philosopher, and a sociologist contemplate the ethical implications of an imminent problem. by Andrew Light, Kent Keller, Bill Kabasenche, and Eugene A. Rosa

Panoramas

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Magazine: “Unleashed” A magazine used for education on sexual assault prevention }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Twin Vista Ranch }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Heart at KWSU in 1976 }

Departments

:: First Words: Maps, memory, and imagination

:: Posts

:: Short Subject: Spirits on the rise

:: In season: Onions

:: Sports: That voice

:: Last Words: The 1710 Senex map of North America

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Map: Craft distilleries in Washington }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Bob Robertson, Voice of the Cougars }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story and Recipes: How to choose the right onion, and some onion lore }

Tracking

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Slideshow: Bowling at WSU }

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Video: Salmon and other water videos from Chris Dunagan }

New media

:: Alpha Phi Alpha: A Legacy of Greatness, the Demands of Transcendence edited by Gregory S. Parks and Stefan M. Bradley (’98 MA History)

:: Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands: 60 Paddle Trips Including the Gulf Islands by Rob Casey ’91

:: No Room of Her Own: Women’s Stories of Homelessness, Life, Death, and Resistance by Desiree Hellegers

:: Boocoo Dinky Dow: My Short, Crazy Vietnam War by Grady C. Myers and Julie Titone

Cover photo: Laurel Graves measures light in a wheat canopy in one of dozens of projects involving undergraduate researchers. By Zach Mazur

Panoramas
Chimacum Corner farmstand. <em>Bobbie Hasselbring/realfoodtraveler.com</em>

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Chimacum Corner farmstand. Bobbie Hasselbring/realfoodtraveler.com

A place of taste

by | © Washington State University

Chimacum Corner is more than just the busiest intersection in Jefferson County. It’s a yellow-walled farmstand where tomatillos from Finnriver Farm meet Roma tomatoes from SpringRain and where bread from Pane D’Amore bakery can find Cape Cleare tuna or cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery. And it’s where locals can find the ever-growing bounty of the local farms and fisheries.

The market is just two years old. And with the motto “Eat your food from here” it grew out of a need for the small-scale producers in the region to reach customers outside the farmers’ markets. Rather than one day a week at the farmers’ market stalls, customers can find local produce at the corner whenever they want.

Because it’s a sign of the evolution of the local food scene, it’s a necessary stop on a recent tour of the area with Laura Lewis ’96, the Jefferson County director of WSU Extension. The county is an interesting mix of people. Long-time farmers and residents intermingle with newly relocated and often active retirees who chose the area for its beauty, outdoor offerings like hiking, gardening, and sailing, and the bounty from the area farms.

“And look at the things we have,” says Lewis as we walk past the kimchee and hard ciders to peruse the free-range chicken, grass-fed beef and organic eggs. But there’s still more to come.

Last spring, WSU hosted a meeting for Washington’s farmers from both Eastern and Western Washington and vendors to talk about WSU’s organic research efforts and what the college should be pursuing and supporting. “What is it that you want?” Dan Bernardo, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, asked the group gathered in Seattle.

“We’re looking for a return to food with a sense of place,” said Denise Breyley, Whole Foods’s “local forager.” She regularly traverses our region from Oregon to British Columbia in search of new, fresh, and local products, from line-caught tuna to locally-roasted nuts. Her customers have some definite desires. “There is a shift in the culture,” she said. “More people are interested in knowing how the animals are cared for, how the environment is considered.”

Trudy Bialic, the director of consumer affairs for PCC Natural Markets said the shoppers are interested in diversity, “in the unusual and the varietal,” she said.

The group, which included farmers from the Columbia Basin and Skagit Valley, also mentioned an interest in seeds and plants bred or selected to match our state’s microclimates.

Lewis, who was at the meeting, saw many links from what the attendees were saying with what was going on out on the Olympic Peninsula. Jefferson County’s high resident demand for local food is met by a steadily rising number of local producers as well as an increase in households growing their own food.

Tapping into these communities, John Navazio, a WSU plant breeding and seed specialist and author of The Organic Seed Grower, works with Clallam and Jefferson County farmers to find varieties that do best in those climates– right now some of the key crops are squash, chicory, and carrots. They’re testing established and heirloom varieties, as well as making unique selections to find what does best where. Navazio is also leading an effort to help farmers do their own on-farm plant breeding for organic produce.

This is really local, says Lewis. Even a few miles make a difference. Look at the rainfall, she says. Port Townsend gets 16 to 18 inches of rain, where Quilcene can get up to 60. “We’re not a Mediterranean climate, but we’re not maritime West Coast,” she says. “We’re a hybrid of the two.”

Just a few miles up the road from the Chimacum farmstand is what may be WSU’s newest tool for working with the local food economy—Twin Vista Ranch, a 30-acre farm on a hillside above Mystery Bay. Owner Lisa Painter is retiring from ranching and will donate the property where she and her partner Jeanne Clendenon, who died in 2011, had lived and worked for 40 years. “It was wonderful,” she says. “We worked hard and we loved it. We knew that a lot more could be done with the land.” She doesn’t want to see the property broken up into lots or turned into vacation condos, she says. Instead, in the hands of WSU, it can be a place for farming and learning, a resource for the community.

In addition to the ranch’s existing heirloom apple orchard, cattle operation, barns, and gardens, “we can use it to create a germplasm hub for the peninsula,” says Lewis. “It’s a place where we could potentially curate and store species.”

“Farmers on the peninsula want to have a really diverse agriculture system,” says Lewis. “That includes multiple varieties within a species.” And overall, the area is at an interesting point. Since the farms are about 50 miles and a ferry ride to another customer base in Seattle, “we have so much potential growth in front of us.” 

Categories: Food, Agriculture | Tags: Organic foods, Local food

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