Strawberries are close to the heart of the matter.
Green berries on the plant at the end of April 2015

We planted 500 Shuksan strawberry plants today.  Strawberries are close to the heart of the matter here at Around the Table Farm.  We plant our berries using tools made by a man who planted berries here in Kitsap county for nine decades before his death in 2012.  Akio Suyematsu’s tools now Karen Selvar’s  tools shared among local growers so the berry growing can continue.  Akio’s family began clearing land on Bainbridge Island in the 1920’s with the dream of growing berries.  The Waldroop family came to our land in the 1940’s with the dream of growing berries.  Dana and I came to learn farming on the Suyematsu farm on Bainbridge starting in 2008.  At that time Akio was 86 years old and still growing raspberries and strawberries on the land.  We bought this piece of ground atop a hill in Poulsbo, the homeplace of an old strawberry farm, on winter solstice 2010.  shuksan beautyWhen I told Akio we were moving to the old Waldroop place he had many memories of selling berries alongside the Waldroop family in the both stores and to the canneries.  In the spring of 2011 we began planting many things, among them june-bearing Shuksan strawberries.  Strawberries are deeply imbedded in the modern agricultural history of this landscape.  Canneries and berry farms were very common here at the time of World War II at which time some berry farmers, many Japanese, lost their land during their internment starting in 1942.  Until recently almost all cleared land in Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island was former berry farms now soccer fields, subdivisions and public schools as agriculture moved out of Kitsap County.  This farm, our farm was bigger once.  The son of the original Waldroop farmer was a metal worker at the Port Gamble saw mill and when he retired he subdivided the farm, selling off 5 acre parcels for development. At this time he sold the home place, 5.5 acres, to his son.  This 5.5 acres is our farm and we are grateful to be here and humbled by the responsibility.  There is surely more to the history of this land than I yet know, my research hardly begun.  What I do know has been told to me by farmer Waldroop’s grandson, Akio Suyematsu, and neighbors and longtime Poulsbo residents.   What I do know is that strawberries are close to the heart of the matter and we will continue the legacy on this land.

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