We lost our old horse friend and co-worker Otto this Spring to old age. Tom, our beautiful new Belgian-Percheron gelding came to us this spring from an Amish farm in Minnesota.
We were able to take Tom straight to the field this spring, plowing with him a week after his arrival–that is amazing for a draft horse new to a farm! He had a wonderfully slow “plowing gear.” We appreciated his willingness to work and his companionable nature.
This fall, we woke up one morning with Tom across the street in the neighbor’s yard in some distress. We brought him back, but he continued to act strangely. We called our mentor Betsey who told us to call the vet who came and announced that we had a case of severe colic. Tom was 5 years old. We had brought him across the country. We liked him. We decided to take him to the hospital, on the vet’s advice. He didn’t make it. We felt like we had lost a family member. He was a great horse.
We were glad to have the time we did with him. Losing both Otto and Tom in one year left us feeling bereft. After some grieving time, we decided to buy a horse from our friends at Welcome Table Farm. Dandy will be joining us at Around the Table shortly.
The sweetest month of the year is here! The Shuksan strawberries are ripe for picking. If you cannot wait until Saturdays at the Poulsbo market to get a pint (or two or three), feel free to stop by the farm stand any other day of the week to get your fix. Don’t wait too long, though, since Shuksans are typically only ripe for about a month every year.
Activity on the farm is getting busy as the weather warms up. Snap peas are in full swing along with garlic scapes, flowers are blooming, and the first garlic of the season was harvested yesterday. The potatoes were also hilled for the first time last week.
We are also back at the Bremerton market on Thursdays between 4-7pm. It’s a great spot for a summer evening picnic with plenty of space for kids and pets to play.
New items coming up next month – cucumbers, fresh garlic, summer squash, basil, and beets. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the markets and farm stand.
We have finished building our new caterpillar tunnel in the field and have already filled it with tomatoes. More tomatoes and cucumbers are planted in our greenhouses. We’re lucky to have them all under cover this year as the rain continues.
The Shuksan strawberries are out there braving the weather, with white blooms all over them. We’re looking forward to the first fruits of the spring.
Emily Tzeng of Local Color Fiber Studio gave a class to the interns at a group of farms in the area on raising sheep and natural dyes, which included the opportunity to dye an item of your choice. Emily is also helping us out on the farm one day a week.
Looking forward to sugar snap peas, garlic scapes and carrots to be ready soon for the CSA boxes.
In spite of the continuing rain, spring has brought us a new horse, a new market season, a new apprentice and the first wedding of the year. We bought an Amish trained horse named Tom–a 5 year old Percheron Belgian cross. And, he’s already been out in the field harrowing new ground, digging potato furrows and cultivating strawberries.
The Poulsbo Farmer’s Market has started on Saturdays in its new location. Our new apprentice, Shan, and our new baby, Alder, arrived in time to help with the first market of the season. Come see us and pick up some delicious veggies.
One of our fellow farmers got married April 2. It was a pleasure to do her bridal party flower design. For such an early wedding, we brought in flowers from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market and Dharma Ridge Farm, and the result was stunning.
We’ve renovated our farmstand and are looking forward to opening it soon. Look for the grand opening celebration including an open farm day some time in June or July.
We have less than a month until the first Poulsbo Market on April 1st at our new site at Gateway church. Our new apprentice Shan will be arriving in a few weeks. And on May 4th we will start a new market (for us) in Bremerton! It’s on Thursdays at Evergreen Park on the water. The CSA begins May 10th!
With all that coming up, the weather can be a little disheartening. But, trusting that your onion, pea, broccoli, spinach, kale, beet and lettuce starts will make it is part of being a farmer. We still get excited about the new varieties we’re trying. We look forward to working in warmer conditions and eating the fruits of that warmth!
We had a sad loss a few weeks ago of our trusted draft horse Otto. He was a wonderful team member on our farm. We see a lot of both ends of life on our farm. This year, we had the stark juxtaposition of the birth of our second boy Alder Martin and the death of our friend Otto. Wendell (our older boy) has been processing through these events with us and is holding up admirably. We are looking forward to a new kind of growing season with two kids now (You forget how much work infants are.) We are in the process of finding a new horse, but will probably have to bring over a friend’s team to get the spring plowing done. Never a dull moment. We say goodbye and welcome at the same time. We look forward to seeing everyone again at the markets and CSA drops and introducing you to our new family member and our new horse, when he or she arrives.
We started our 2016 season with a new apprentice Rob, who joined us from PA. Plowing started late with the wettest March on record, but we finally got Otto (our horse) out there and prepared the ground for potatoes and onions. Rob and Wendell are getting the potato seed ready for planting by dipping them in beneficial bacteria. We had a great potato crop this year with the cooler weather. Also, first thing this spring, we went down the road with Otto and some family members to see the new piglets born at the Smithshyre. We brought the piglets up to the farm to turn some pasture in need of repair. We keep American Guinea Hogs, a
heritage variety, because they are friendlier, and a good homesteading breed. They did a wonderful job turning over old pasture, which Otto then plowed and which is now sown in new pasture and looking beautiful.
As summer crops came on, our market stands increased in size. We love growing our heirloom tomatoes! We try new varieties every year, while using our saved seed from the varieties we know and love. We’ve been saving some of our seed for nine years! While our summer this year was short and therefore not great for tomatoes, peppers and other heat-loving crops,
Summertime market stand
we still got a good haul.
The flowers also grew beautifully this year. We expanded our flower offerings to include a flower CSA and wedding design. This bridal bouquet went to a lovely wedding on Lake Crescent in August (see the flower section of our website). This fall, Wendell got his first pair of XtraTufs. We were glad to be prepared for the wettest October on record. It made for a hard year for storage crops, but we still got some beautiful dry corn, which we use to make cornmeal or polenta. Below, our Roy’s Calais Flint shows its colors (right). On the left, Rob and Dana plow in the pig paddock to sow new pasture.
Rob and Dana plowing with Otto
One of our last tasks for the fall is planting garlic. We had some friends come help, including little Coretta, who helped us power through over 6000 cloves. We love garlic as a crop because it has the opposite growing season to most other crops: plant in the fall and harvest in the spring. What a great northwest flavor!
We thank our customers and volunteers and Rob for all your support this year!
We are standing at the brink of spring here on the farm and the seeding has just begun. The garlic is growing, piles of seed are organized, the crop plan is almost complete, fruit trees are being pruned and the 2016 CSA info will be live in the coming days. In the midst of late winter Dana is hard at work planning and dreaming up this year’s flower garden and we would love you be a part of it. We are planning to have flowers available for weddings, farmers markets, other special events, and our farmstand this summer. For more info and photos check out the Flower page and contact Dana with any questions.
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. When 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.