Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Buy Local

How important is local agriculture to our local economy?

One in every six US consumers surveyed by analyst group Mintel are going out of their way to buy local food products as much as possible, with potential for further growth, according to recent findings.

However, the research company said stronger promotion activities may be required to play up potential benefits to the consumer of local goods in order to ensure more mainstream acceptance.

About 30 per cent of the 2000 adult respondents questioned said they would purchase local goods and services, but were unable to locate them - earning themselves the titles of ‘aspirational locals’ by the analyst.

Our county ARC and Ag Guild work locally to help the public find out what local products are available, and find great ways to help local farmers and producers market them. (Examples - Farmers Market (Ag Guild), and the Island Certified Local (ICL) Stamp (ARC).

Check the post below to see how you can support our local Agricultural Resource Committee (ARC) and the Ag Guild which is a part of it. Let's let the county know we support their work. It can mean a healthier environment, healthier food available locally, and JOBS.
(And while you're at it - check out the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative IGFC and mobile processing unit - wonderful, healthy pastured meats from our islands are available packaged and USDA inspected because of this great program initiated by the Lopez Community Land Trust. These meats are available at the San Juan Food Co-op the Farmers Market and the many island farm stands listed at links on the right ).
Also, look at Margaret Thorson's letter to aspiring winter growers, (Post 4/6/09)
Margaret says Joel will be giving a "pep talk" for winter gardeners just after 1 pm next Saturday, after the 1st outdoor Farmers Market of the season on April 25th!
For more info on Market time and place and more.Go to the SJI Farmers Market site

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Left: detail, "World Sources of Food" mosaic by John Garth

The WSU Extension office in Friday Harbor is an invaluable resource for our local farmers, gardeners, and farmers-to-be. Take a look at their pages to see. The San Juan Islands Conservation District is also an incredibly valuable source of help and information - the Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) of the SJI Conserv. Dist. does so much for and with farmers, (including the Islands Certified Local-ICL program) we don't know how our islands could get by without it.
Please let the County know how important the
ARC is and can be to our local farmers and producers and their customers. To make sure the County keeps the ARC in their budget - contact County Administrator Pete Rose by mail at: 350 Court St #5, Friday Harbor, WA 98250; by phone: (360) 378-3870 or by email at adminsvcs@co.san-juan.wa.us attention: Pete Rose. Ask your local farmer what the ARC does for you, and check the page and see.

We have a new page - Land & Sea Slow Food - Actions You Can Take Now. This is where we will list more detailed news from out of our region that affects us all, and actions you can take right now to help! We will be building this page in the next few weeks and will begin adding more stories and links to keep you informed.
Check the page now to see how you can help tell the board members of MACA (Mid America CropLife Association - virtually all of them big chemical executives) that we don't appreciate their telling Michelle Obama (or any of us) to use pesticides in our gardens, and keep the White House Garden organic!


Photo, left, from Credo
Welcome to the first post of our Actions Page - This is where we will list news from out of our region that affects us all, and actions you can take right now to help!
We will be building this page in the next few weeks and will begin adding more stories and links to keep you informed.

From Credo Action Network:

Tell the Pesticide Peddlers: We support Michelle Obama's organic garden.

The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA)represents chemical companies that produce pesticides, and they are angry that - wait for it - Michelle Obama isn't using chemicals in her organic garden at the White House. In an email to their supporters, a MACA spokesman wrote, "While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [us] shudder.", and went on to publish a letter it had sent to the First Lady asking her to consider using chemicals -- or what they call "crop protection products" -- in her garden.
Sign this petition today to tell the board members of MACA (virtually all of them big chemical executives) that we don't appreciate their telling Michelle Obama (or any of us) to use pesticides in our gardens.

From Organic Consumer's Association:
Contact Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and urge her to veto HB 2121 before April 16th.
HB 2121 could potentiall restrict any national US dairy from properly labeling their milk products as free from genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH or rbST).
rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) is a genetically engineered variant of the natural growth hormone produced by cows. Formerly manufactured by Monsanto, it is sold to dairy farmers under the trade name Posilac. Injection of this hormone forces cows to boost milk production by about 10%, while increasing the incidences of mastitis, lameness, and reproductive complications.

Save Organic Standards: Tell the USDA and the NOSB to Protect Organic Standards. Under the new Obama Administration, with Kathleen Merrigan as second-in-command at the USDA, we have an opportunity to prevent corporate greed from corrupting organic standards.

Action Alert: Critical Pending Food Safety Legislation - H.R. 875
Please Ask Congress to Protect High Quality Organic and Local Food

(Several other bills include provisions that should worry small farmers – like H.R. 814, which calls for a mandatory animal identification system, or H.R. 759, which is more likely to move through Congress than H.R. 875 and calls for electronic recordkeeping on farms and registration fees for processing plants. For factory farms this is a very good idea; for small sustainable farms, it can be not only unnecessary - overkill - but devastating in cost of money and time).
People should know what they're talking about when they call or write their government representatives. Organic sustainable farmers will tell you that passing a bill (HR 875) with so many ambiguities and the 'one size fits all' potential will not be good at all for the future of organic farmers, given the presence of Big Chem and Big Ag in the Congress, Dept. of Ag, FDA, and Farm Bureau. It's important that people find out who their officials and decision makers in these agencies are, who they worked for, who they will likely work for again.

The term "food safety" has more than one meaning: There is the idea of tainted or diseased food supplies. There is also the idea of destruction of biodiversity, contamination and sterilization of seed stocks with bioengineered seed crossbreeding, and loss of small communities' ability to feed themselves. Small sustainable farms can be lost due to inappropriate and overwhelming regulation, and seed and animal manipulation and patents. The call to contact your representative is really a call for education about what is happening to our food supply. Who owns our food supply (and our water) and are we allowed to feed ourselves and to understand what food safety really is?
Books and other media to help understand more about this incredibly important issue:
All of these can help in understanding the significance of the term "food safety".

Would corporations actually do things that are not in the best interest of the American people? Is that really a question right now? If, incredibly, somehow it is, the book & documentary "The Corporation" is helpful in understanding the structure and need for short-term profit of the the modern-day corporations controlling so much of the present and potential food supply and holding so much influence in a number of governments.

left: The Farm to College Project at UC Santa Cruz
Check out the web page and YouTube video for the Grow A Farmer Campaign.
It will make you happy!
Today, more than 1,200 apprentices have been trained in the organic fields, orchards and greenhouses at UC Santa Cruz, learning not only how to raise food and flowers, but how to make the food system itself more sustainable by addressing issues of social justice. They are today's organic farmers, market gardeners, urban agriculturalists, school garden teachers, and others working to promote local, healthy food in communities around the country.
Recent graduates exemplify the program’s potential to create new farmers…
Kelsey Keener, Ryan Power, and Noah Bresler raise vegetables, fruit, and heritage livestock on historic Williams Island near Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mike Nolan and Gabe Eggers coax crops from the sagebrush country of southern Colorado for local markets. Amy Rice-Jones manages the brand new Bounty Farm, where she coordinates a team of volunteers growing food for low-income residents of Petaluma, California.
Read more of the profiles of UC Santa Cruz apprentices here.
Supporting or taking part in this program is one way to help.
AND...We can also learn from this program, and work to develop a training program for farmers right here. We're starting, with our L & S Youth Club Farm Garden and farmworker training; we know others on the island are thinking the same thing, and doing it, too.


Take a look at this month's issue of Yes! magazine - it is incredible!
You will be inspired - the article titled "Growing Power" will remind you that it only takes one person to begin to make change - you do have it in you! Read all about Will Allen, The New Crop of Farmers, Percy Schmeiser, and the Good Food Revolution. You will come away with a smile on your face!

Left: Will Allen shows some of the 10,000 fish growing in one of Growing Power's four-foot-deep, 10,000-gallon aquaponics tanks. Waste from the fish feeds greens and tomatoes. The plants purify the water for the fish. The fish eventually go to market. Photo by Ryan Griffis temporarytraveloffice.net

Yes! is also available at the Marketplace, or you can go to these links above and read online.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hi Everyone!

Want to Grow Winter Vegetables?
It's growing season - here's much local news:
Our garden is breaking ground at the end of the month. Marc and Tim have chosen a specific heritage crop for the kids to focus on - it's exciting!! And the 1st cob oven is close to done - we'll be doing the sculptural coat next! We want to make the next one at our garden, and keep making them.

Please check with Eliza Buck at the Agricultural Resources Committee (ARC) / SJI Conservation District if you have land you want to keep as open space that you'd be interested in having farmed - or if you are looking for land to farm.
(See info at the right and at the very bottom of this page.) And look at this ARC/Cons. District page ( and this one, ) to see a sample of what the ARC offers.

Think about being a farmer. This morning we just got this note from longtime Waldron farmer (and another of our wonderful Youth Club advisors) Margaret Thorson:

"Hi Linda et al,
After yesterday's last winter farmers market of this season I issued this challenge to everyone on the farmers market and ag guild mailing list. I know that there are Slow Food members on that list but wanted to especially share this challenge with your group:

Today ended the 7th winter farmers market season. Joel and I sold most of our non leek vegetables by 10:20. Between us and the other two Waldron farms we had come up with some salad mix, half a box of carrots, a few napini buds and some spinach (besides 75# of leeks). But obviously we had a lot of disappointed customers who wanted something other than leeks.

We've been doing this for 7 years now and we have been the primary source of whatever winter vegetables have been available for all those years. This was a particularly bad year due to the weather and we are raising this stuff in a fairly wet and cold site. Half of our kale varieties froze out and most of the chard is gone. Or you can say that half of our kale varieties survived and we have a few chard plants that if they survive to make seed will become the parents of our own strain of survivor chard.

We can't continue to do this basically alone. There is so much talk about a permanent site which would include place for an indoor winter market. But if you all want that we can't continue to have just us providing the bulk of the vegetables.

So this is my challenge.
Next April I don't want to be the only table there with vegetables on it. If we can do it so can you. If we want a real market presence on San Juan Island we have to create it ourselves by getting out there an growing stuff. If each of the growers who sell at the market had had half a box of
carrots and a dozen bags of salad or green, 8 or 12 bunches of napini, etc., etc., we would have had a lot fewer disappointed customers. And if we want a real farmers market in a permanent site we can't keep having disappointed customers and you all can't keep depending on the Waldron farmers to form the bulk of the growers.

Winter gardening is just a different learning challenge for a grower. Joel and I have been doing it for years, for ourselves long before we decided to see if we could do it commercially. The customer base is there. We are glad to help out with advice, with recommendations of varieties that have worked for us, etc. Call us,, email us, come by our booth and talk to us. But if every grower grew a bed of winter carrots, and beets, and parsnips, grew more storage onions and squash, tried a bunch of different varieties of kale to see what works on your place, we would
have a vibrant winter market all winter.

The time to start is now, getting seeds of winter vegetables, planning where to plant them so they can go into the ground in June and July and not be in the way of summer crops, etc. There is a big push to get things in in the summer but in the winter there is no weeding and watering.

So assure me that we won't be alone next winter. And let's also consider that Joel and I won't be doing this forever and if you want a functional market you will have to create it. and now is the time to start.

Margaret Thorson
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien"
(Links added by SF Land & Sea.)
(Photos courtesy of Margaret and Joel)
Margaret and Joel's farm is Thousand Flower; contact info is to the
right on links. Margaret also has a great blog. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


In October of 2008, Land & Sea Slow Food officially ended any affiliation with the "Experience Food Project" and “Chef Tom French” .
Because of the extensive logistical support work done by Land & Sea Slow Food at the start of the San Juan School District's lunch program, there has been confusion about Land & Sea Slow Food re: Tom French's Experience Food Project. Land and Sea Slow Food is not part of Tom French's Experience Food Project. "The Experience Food Project" is a separate entity run by Tom French. It managed the school district's lunch program (year 2008-08) in addition to other possible interests. Land & Sea donated time and materials to support the establishment of a district lunch program. We are San Juan Island's local chapter of Slow Food, an independent non profit organization.
As a result of numerous and troubling inconsistencies, misrepresentations and lack of follow-through, and the additional discovery of a long pattern/history of troubling financial dealings and misrepresentations, Land & Sea does not support, endorse, or recommend "Chef Tom French".

Land & Sea Slow Food is happy for the wonderful successes of the San Juan Island School District's homegrown "Food for Thought" lunch program initiated and run by SJISD employees Liz Varvaro and Andy Radziolowski, and for the hard work of local San Juan Island people in actually making that happen, and continuing to make this lunch program truly successful and sustainable.

Although Slow Food is an actual organization, the name "Slow Food" has sometimes seemed to mean any healthy food program in many people's minds, possibly creating confusion.
Slow Food originally got its name in opposition to the idea of "fast food", the loss of heritage foods and rich cultural traditions, and the opening of a McDonald's "fast food" franchise on the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Land & Sea chapter has independently created and sponsors many exciting projects here in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. (See links to Youth Club and stories on other events below). We have started small to be most effective, and are continually building at the grassroots level. We also help link people who want to support farmers with farmers, and link resources for farmers with farmers. We have gained a lot of trust from local producers by actually being there in the field. We always welcome new members but do not insist in membership to participate; our focus has been finding like minded passionate people who also share the Slow Food mission, working with them and building in that way. Often these people do decide to also join.

We find that our direct action fills a need in our community and is our strength. The quote attributed to Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” has definitely inspired us and given our work affirmation. Policy making is very important, but we see that that hands-on work at the ground level has often been able to effect positive actual change even before work of policy-makers does. We support and encourage good policy, and share our mission and suggestions with local and national policy makers, as a look at our site attests. We feel have been most effective here on our island with actual work in the field and creating links, and will continually keep our ear to the ground and evaluate our effectiveness to see how we can do our best to accomplish the Slow Food mission. For more info on joining Slow Food and other opportunities, check links to the right.