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Fall 2011

Wendell Berry comes to Washington

Staff photo

Poet and author Wendell Berry visited Skagit Valley in May at the invitation of Washington State University students and faculty. He spent the day touring the WSU research and extension center and exploring a farm. He also visited with area farmers including Tom and Cheryl Thornton, left, and Anne Schwartz ’78, right. (Staff photo)

Fall 2011

Seeing the trees

At the south end of Whidbey Island, off a tree-lined road, Linda Kast ’75 pulls her station wagon up to a gate and jumps out. She opens her hatchback and extracts a thick folder containing maps, a history, and an inventory of her small wooded acreage.

As she leafs through it she explains that she bought this 11-acre forest nine years ago in memory of land her family used to own and regularly visit on Whidbey when she was a child growing up in Seattle.

At the time she bought the property, Kast signed up for a forest stewardship class with Washington State University. … » More …

Fall 2011

When wildfire comes to town

Flames ripped through the pines and brush in the Dishman Hills west of Spokane Valley in July 2008, just as they’ve done for thousands of years. A dry wind pushed the fire up a hill, hotter and faster, and straight into a new development of expensive homes, destroying 13 of them and burning 1,200 acres.

The wildfire’s destruction was not surprising or unexpected. But the number of homes and residents who survived the blaze serves as a testament to smart planning, an awareness of inevitable fires, and research into the interaction of fire-prone wildlands and the growing number of people who live near them.

Summer 2011


Although a wine and carrot pairing is not immediately obvious, it is intriguing that carrots and wine grapes appreciate the same environmental conditions. In fact, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington’s newest viticultural region, is also home to the bulk of our carrot production, the carrots thriving on the same soil and warm days and cool nights that produce such great wine grapes.

Rob Mercer ’91, president of Mercer Canyons, oversees the production of nearly 2,000 acres of carrots, which represents a good chunk not only of state, but national carrot production. A planting density of a million seeds per acre or more … » More …

Summer 2011

Business is blooming

On a sunny weekend in early spring, 40 farmers and would-be cut flower growers fill the second floor of the barn at Jello Mold Farm in the Skagit Valley. Bundled in their coats against the cool morning, they eagerly listen to more experienced farmers, a florist, a grocery store buyer, and a floral designer talk about ways to grow and sell their peonies, ranunculus, and dahlias.

As new subjects come up, notebooks and pens sprout in their hands. They note that hydrangeas, roses, and lilies could be the “workhorses” in their bouquets. They learn that the demand is growing for local … » More …

Winter 2010

Video: Chickpea research at WSU

George Vandemark, the current USDA legume breeder and a faculty member at Washington State University, describes research into chickpeas. Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are an important crop around the Palouse and Pullman, the main campus of WSU. The chickpea provides nitrogen for the soil as well as a high-protein crop. Most chickpeas are used for hummus or salads.


Read more


Chickpea recipes

Winter 2010


Although Middle Eastern cooks who found themselves in the United States undoubtedly found sources of such a vital ingredient, it wasn’t until the last couple of decades that the chickpea made its way into the American diet and moved up from the bottom shelf at the supermarket. It can be said with some confidence that chickpeas did not find their way into church carry-ins (potlucks to you non-Midwesterners) until very recently.

The chickpea’s introduction to American cuisine probably started with the salad bar, suggests Phil Hinrichs ’80, president of Hinrichs Trading Company, which processes and distributes chickpeas primarily to a domestic market. Remember those odd … » More …

Fall 2010

Video: Grilling Walla Walla Sweet Onions



Walla Walla Sweet onions
Olive oil
A grill

Peel and slice the onions very thick, about an inch.

Heat the grill. Put the Walla Walla Sweets on the grill when it’s ready. Brush with olive oil as necessary.

When the onions are softened slightly and warm, remove them from the grill and enjoy.

Don’t overcook the Walla Walla Sweets. They only need a little grilling to make them even sweeter.


Tim Steury grills up some Walla Walla Sweets, while describing why these onions are special and how they were brought to Walla Walla. 2 minutes, 53 seconds.

» More …