Friday, July 15, 2011

Whispering Winds Farm

Sixty seven people signed up for the first annual farm-to-fork dinner tomorrow at Whispering Winds Farm in Stanwood. It's sold out, thanks in part to Cascade Harvest Coalition, Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland and Sarah Jackson at the Everett Herald who helped get the word out.

I wrote about farmers Char and Doug Byde and Whispering Winds in this post and mentioned the fam dinner in this one. And the heritage barn is featured in my book and since I'm going to the dinner, I stopped by the farm yesterday to take a few pictures to share since this is planned as an annual event. How cool is that?

In the barn, when I noticed a few feathers floating down from the rafters. Char said a barn owl lives there. Every barn should have an owl.

I'm crazy about this barn's rustic character on this lush green landscape. I love vintage things, but I often don't think about what it takes to maintain them. It's a work in progress, Char told me.

I also noticed this old truck in front of the farm, and Char said it was their lawn ornament. I know this is a flood plain but is that a boat on the back of that truck?

Char is the main farmer at Whispering Winds Farm. Doug also has a full time job in Marysville. Char cultivates the crops, delivers the CSAs and still finds the time to blog. Char said she learned everything she knows about farming on the job as an adult. She didn't grow up on a farm, but helped out on a neighbor's farm and one thing she noticed is the kids who lived there weren't hungry and their food was pretty tasty. Char has grown vegetables and flowers all her adult life.

This farm is Char's dream job and her favorite part of farming? Meeting all the people who eat her produce and love what she and Doug are cultivating on this farm.

These beehives belong to a neighbor who brings the bees in to pollinate blossoms and collects honey. I wonder if bees know their hive by color, location or a combination of senses?

Even though the sun wasn't out (so typical Northwest), the flowers brightened the fields. Maybe that's why we love flowers so much here.

One of the tricks in farming is knowing exactly when the vegetables and fruits ripen, and with the variable weather each year, it's a gamble. Everything is late this year--about three weeks late. Even these onions that looked small but good to me, Char said were a few weeks out. The tops need to die back first.

Spring onions are green onions, picked before their time, but they're sweet and delicate like new potatoes.

The potatoes are also about three weeks away, says Char. Mother Nature doesn't like to be hurried.

Though the Northwest is a great growing region one of the challenges is the continual dampness and rain. Stone fruits like apricots and peaches are hard to grow on this damp side of the Cascades.

But cole crops like kale, mustard greens, collards, Brussels sprouts and broccoli love the cool climate and generally thrive here.

Until we have a few hot days, that is. With just a few hot sunny days these cool weather loving crops can suddenly shoot up and bolt (flower). Bolting turns leaves bitter, but some of the flowers are quite tasty. After a few hot sunny days, sample some lettuce leaves at the market before buying it because the flavor may be more bitter than you'd like. That's why California doesn't have lettuce as sweet as some of the lettuce varieties we grow here. So before you start to whine about the cool weather, think about the cole crops.

Another vegetable that grows well here are peas. One friend told me peas are so easy to grow, she could just toss seeds outside and they'll grow. I think she exaggerated, it's not that easy for me, but it is a crop I often hedge my bets on when I draw up my garden plans.

Every pea at Whispering Winds Farm is hand harvested by Char. Love English peas as you can guess with my last recipe.

I took a lot of pictures and I dropped off a couple of baskets for door prizes. My wrapping skills are not Martha Stewart inspired, but check out the Rockridge Orchards wine, Tahuya River Apiaries honey, and of course my cookbook in this basket. It's what's inside the wrapping that really counts. It's fun to give things away.

I'll be selling both of my books at the event.

My friend Kathy Gehrt is taking time out of her busy lavender festival schedule to go to the dinner, too. Devra Gartenstein of Patty Pan Grill is cooking the meal, and I'll be helping serve it.

I'll have more photos and a recipe for you in a few days. If we're lucky we'll see an eagle or two.

If you were lucky enough to get tickets to this event, I hope to see you there. In case you missed out, Char plans to host this dinner in August next year.

Chloe was waiting for me at home. She isn't as obvious as Finn with her disappointment over what I didn't bring home.

Finn doesn't conceal his disappointment when he realizes I didn't score any carrots for him.


Joan said...

What a lovely post. That farm to fork dinner sounds like alot of fun.

Yes the bees do know which is their hive by it's color AND by orienting themselves to it with what's around it. Bees are fantastic.

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

It was lovely with the lovely sunny afternoon. I wondered about the colors of the hives because my friend went to Europe and went to a bee museum where each hive on display was decorated in a different way. Love bees and your posts about them.