Summer is simmering outside my window, despite the onslaught of COVID-19, the necessity of social distancing and mask wearing, and the incredible awakening by the losses from the unwarranted deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Charleena Lyles. I am living in a time of immense change and uncertainty. As an elementary school kid, I lived through the 1960’s, feeling the pulse of change, mostly through pictures in Time magazine and National Geographic and the heart wrenching words of singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. To this day hearing the scratched recordings by Peter, Paul and Mary of The Times They Are A-Changin’ and Blowing in the Wind still brings tears to my eyes. I yearn for “We the People” to have a more heartfelt rather than fearfelt life with our fellow world citizens and sentient beings. We have only one planet.
Despite all this churn, there is still certainty. Beyond certainty, there is hope. The world continues to turn. The sun comes up, the sun goes down. Dinners are made. The dog is walked. Calmness, clarity, and knowing what is “mine to do” can be found in things I know and love. Supporting the local food economy is one slice of my passion and my work.
As I walk through my yard, I am blessed with enough land (only 5,000 square feet) and know- how to grow some of my own sustenance-my own food. I can’t grow enough food to survive on, but just enough to add flavor, color and specialness to my family’s meals.
I have 8 tomato plants, more importantly eight different kinds of tomato plants–green grape, Oregon
spring, super sweet 1000’s, yellow pear, and four other varieties with lost tags. I have enough tomato varietals to ripen and augment meals through–what feels like a long time in the future, but soon to be the dog days of summer. Thankfully, I am not a farmer dependent on giving customers a specific tomato varietal.
To compensate for my lack of gardening precision and supply for all the fruits and vegetables my family needs, two local farmers Local Roots Farms and Tonnemakers deliver weekly CSA boxes (Community Supported Agriculture)to my neighborhood drop off location. The rest of our food needs are purchased from my entrepreneurial son, Marcus and his high-school buddy Alec with their fledging weekly food delivery service, Seattle Produce Club.
Local Roots Farm
Local Roots Farm is a wife and husband team, Siri and Jason, that farm, have a CSA delivery service, and was formerly a supplier for multiple Seattle-area restaurants. Their farm business is almost year around from June to March with on-farm grown produce and occasional vegetable add-ons from other local farmers. Jason’s Mom lives directly uphill and behind my Seattle abode. Every Tuesday I amble 600 feet and five minutes uphill and around the corner with empty grocery sacks in hand to retrieve my produce cache.
This Junerary, Seattle’s nickname for a cool, wet June, my Local Roots box has been brimming with butter lettuce, Romaine lettuce, kales, chards, collards, garlic scapes, turnips with edible greens and an occasional dash of rhubarb for color. I’m anticipating the arrival of the summer’s warm weather veggies with cucumbers, beans, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and more.
With the onslaught of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of robust restaurant customer accounts, Siri scrambled to ensure a successful farm season by signing on multiple new CSA customers. New drop off locations and Saturday deliveries were necessities to serve 425 households. With 50% more retail customers than previous years, Jason, Siri and their staff hunkered down on the Duvall Farm to reduce the COVID infection risk. With no restaurant sales all spring, and last year’s broccoli and kales sprouting shoots, two additional CSA boxes were offered to retail customers on a first come-first served basis in April and May. Now in 2020, Local Roots Farm is a year-round CSA!
Tonnemaker Valley Farm
Tonnemaker Valley Farm has a more than 100-year history as a family farm in eastern Washington’s Yakima Valley and on Frenchman Hills northeast of Royal City. For much of Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets more than 25 year history, Tonnemakers has supplied stone fruits, pears, apples and a plethora of peppers ranging from mild to “wicked” spicy. With the onslaught of COVID-19, I jumped at the opportunity to a weekly pick-up of a Tonnemaker box of eastern Washington organically grown fruit at the same location I pick up my Local Roots box!
First crop up-cherries! Yum!
Seattle Produce Club
The Seattle Produce Club is the brainchild of my good friend Rob Salvino, owner of the now closed Damsel & Hopper Bakery. In mid-March when COVID stay at home orders slammed shut the year around farmers markets, Rob sent out an email with a list of produce and grocery items to purchase from local producers and farmers. Fifteen regular customers quickly signed on with bi-weekly deliveries of bakery and farm fresh foods.
At the same time, Rob’s son and my son endured online college in their Seattle homes with few prospects for summer employment. Rob asked “the boys” whether they wanted to carry on the food buying club. Now weekly emails generated with google order sheets are created by Marcus and Alec and sent to more than 30 customers with capacity for more. The Club is delivering locally grown fruits and vegetables from Hedlin Farms in Skagit County, Alvarez Organic Farms in the Yakima Valley, Sidhu Farms from the Puyallup Valley, and Collins Family Orchards in Selah, Washington.
My weekly box includes fresh baked bread and rolls from Sea Wolf Bakers in Wallingford, pork sausages and the coveted bacon from Olsen Farms in Stevens County, ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery, eggs from Day Creek Organic Farm, coffee from Fidalgo Coffee Roasters, and loads of fresh berries, beets, lettuces, kales, cherries and more. My north Seattle friends and neighborhoods can also share in the bounty of the season and support two college students in their local food delivery business.
With Seattle Produce Club, Local Roots, and Tonnemakers, my weekly grocery needs are close to 80% complete. Cheese, milk and toilet paper are, of course, purchased elsewhere.
Supporting our local food economy strengthens the Puget Sound region’s resilience, benefits the environment with shorter food miles traveled, supports small family businesses and most importantly tastes better. Family farmers grow food that is meant to be picked when ripe and eaten when fresh rather than biding its time in a long haul truck or in a warehouse.
Biting into a plump, juicy yellow Rainier cherry with tinges of red is divine!
(To see if you are in the Seattle Produce Club‘s delivery area email email@example.com with your address and get on their Friday email blast. Tonnemaker fruits and vegetables can be found at all the open Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets and at their Woodinville and Royal City farmstands. Local Roots Farm offers an honor system farmstand at their Duvall farm.)