Tomorrow, Saturday, October 2, is the 14th Annual Harvest Celebration Farm Tour in Clallam County. If you are on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, this is a very fun event that gives you a glimpse of what the Peninsula has to offer.
This year, nine different farms are opening their barn doors and throwing a party – hayrides, music, great food, farm animals & produce, demonstrations – a ton of down-home family fun.
It’s a great opportunity to see not only the resources we have here, but also a chance to see how people are making it work from home.
- Lazy J Tree Farm grows Christmas trees and all kinds of organic produce. They’ll have apple cider, hay bale mazes, and Coleman Byrnes’ Heritage “Chocolate” turkeys (order now for Thanksgiving!).
- Bowers’ Blue Mountain Belgians will be giving demos on farming and logging using draft horses and mules, as well as how to turn logs into lumber using a portable sawmill.
- Trade Winds Alpacas will give spinning demonstrations and offer opportunities to buy products made from this finest of fibers – and there is nothing more adorable than baby alpacas!
- Freedom Farm specializes in horses in all shapes and sizes. They will be giving pony rides to kids, making hay and silage, and will have lots of kid-friendly activities.
- Lökalie Gaare (Lucky Sheep Farm) will give demos on sheep shearing, spinning, and herding sheep using Border Collies (they make it easy!)
- Dungeness Valley Creamery offers raw milk, locally made cheese, farm-fresh eggs, whole grain breads, and other locally made basics at their store. They’ll give demos on how to separate the cream from milk and churn it into butter. Their big brown-eyed jersey calves are pretty hard to resist!
- Nash’s Organic Produce is pretty much legendary in these parts, offering some of the largest assortment of fresh veggies this side of the Cascades. They’ll give demos on all aspects of beekeeping, and we won’t want to miss the organic shepherd’s pie, green salad, and fruit crisp!
- Bekkevar Family Farm has been in operation since our pioneer days (Happy 100th Birthday!) Hayrides, antique tractors, unique breeds of cattle, pigs, and other farm animals, wool spinning, and just about everything you can think of on a self-sustaining farm operation – along with a little toe-tappin’ bluegrass – await visitors here.
- Sunshine Herb & Lavender farm will give talks on growing, processing, and distilling lavender and other herbs. Registered mini Southdown sheep and rare poultry from the Barking Beak Farm will also greet onlookers.
I am always amazed at the number of varied agricultural enterprises we can find right here on the Olympic Peninsula. Of course, Sequim has built quite a reputation in the last few years around its lavender farms, but there is so much more available: all kinds of fruits and vegetables, grains, livestock, poultry, seafood, herbs and flowers, field and seed crops, bees & honey, grapes & wine, hay and livestock feed, mulches & compost, and an assortment of nurseries – not to mention local markets and community gardens.
You know, I’ve always wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible, to “live off the land,” to work from home – and maybe this dream is just a kickback from a 60’s-era idealism, but I have to say – these people are making it work. Some are carrying on traditional methods, such as using draft horses or herd dogs – some are approaching modern markets with unconventional crops, such as lavender – some are combining the old with the new – all are demonstrating how wholesome, home-grown, small-family-farm goods are better for you, better for the environment, better for our community. These folks have my utmost admiration, and there is so much we can learn from all of them.
As I get older, I am rethinking my ideals of being completely self-sufficient. Sure, I will always have a family garden – and I will always share my passion for unique varieties of garlic – but I also know that being completely self-sufficient is a lot of work. Maybe it’s time to rethink this concept. Maybe self-sufficiency is more efficiently accomplished at a community level. That means reaching out. Supporting our neighbors.
This support has never been more important.
Anyone who lives in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley knows how recent population growth and developments have taken away a great percentage of our farmland, and with it, some of our heritage. It’s a sad story told across the country. But all is not lost. We have a resurgence of people who are showing us that it can still be done – but they can’t do it alone. We all need one another.
The alternative means being dependent on outside sources for our food supply. It’s a scary thought. We get complacent about the availability of cheap food in large markets, the availability of which is largely dependent on cheap energy. That cheap energy will not always be available. And as big business and outside interests gain more control of our food supply, that cheap food may not always be available, either. “Cheap” has hidden costs beyond the obvious health impacts.
We are incredibly blessed to have such an abundance of “real” food and local products available to us. It’s up to us to insure that availability. By supporting our local family farms, we are supporting our independence, our self-sufficiency, and our communities. Our health – and our quality of life – defined on so many levels – depends on it.
So when you check out some of our local farms this weekend, take time to get to know our farming neighbors. We’re all in this together.
And remember to
P.S. Can’t make the tour? Consider donating to Friends of the Fields, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving farmland in Clallam County, WA.