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Winter 2013

Beans

“I was determined to know beans.”

—Thoreau, Walden

Having abandoned journalism and returned to her family’s farm on Whidbey Island, Georgie Smith ’93 started gardening, and one thing led to another. Smith had at least two things going for her, family land and a knack for farming. Farmer’s markets sales led to supplying restaurants, and ten years later, she’s still in business, farming 20 acres on Whidbey’s Ebey Prairie outside of Coupeville with four full-time employees and the same number of three-quarter time workers.

Even though Smith grows multifarious crops—greens, alliums, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, whatever—at the heart of her enterprise right now is a lovely … » More …

Winter 2013

Watching the sea

The paint has barely dried at the new Salish Sea Research Center near Bellingham, but the $2.2 million facility is already in use. Student scientists dip into a freezer full of recently collected shellfish, a Zodiac boat and a collection of waders are drying in the back mud room, and several projects to study acidity in the water and the health of the aquatic organisms are already underway.

The Northwest Indian College was established in 1973 to train technicians who would work in Indian-run fish and shellfish hatcheries throughout the region. More recently it has expanded to include two- and four-year college degrees. And today … » More …

Fall 2013

Washington’s sweet corn secret

Washington corn? Midwesterners may scoff, but right now an abundance of sweet corn from Yakima Valley and around the Columbia Basin is heading to grocery stores, farm stands, and farmers markets from Anacortes to Zillah. It is something of a surprise that our state is also one of the largest sweet corn producers in the country.

The stuff at the farm stands is just a hint of how much of the crop is here. Three states dominate in the production of sweet corn for canning and freezing. The first two are no revelation: Wisconsin and Minnesota. But some years Washington is the source of 850,000 … » More …

The barns at WSU’s research station in Puyallup.
Spring 2013

The Essential Egg

More than a century ago one man’s longing to live in the country led to a course in chicken farming offered through Washington State College, laying the groundwork for one of the largest and oldest egg operations in the Pacific Northwest. Along with just a few other large egg companies, the family-run Wilcox Farms is now a pillar in Washington’s 1.9 billion-egg-a-year industry.

In the early 1900s, a Canadian transplant named Judson Wilcox settled in Seattle. He had a home on Queen Anne and a hat shop in Pioneer Square. But city life wasn’t for him. In 1909 he visited a site east of … » More …

Winter 2012

A place of taste

Chimacum Corner is more than just the busiest intersection in Jefferson County. It’s a yellow-walled farmstand where tomatillos from Finnriver Farm meet Roma tomatoes from SpringRain and where bread from Pane D’Amore bakery can find Cape Cleare tuna or cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery. And it’s where locals can find the ever-growing bounty of the local farms and fisheries.

The market is just two years old. And with the motto “Eat your food from here” it grew out of a need for the small-scale producers in the region to reach customers outside the farmers’ markets. Rather than one day a week at the farmers’ market … » More …

Carol Miles
Spring 2012

Mulch ado about garden plastics

In 2001, Carol Miles certified WSU’s first piece of organic land, a three-acre parcel at the WSU Vancouver Research and Extension Unit. It was a landmark moment, leading the way for organically managed land at all of WSU’s research facilities.

But one thing kept nagging her: the plastic.

In the absence of conventional herbicides, weed control was her number one issue, and laying down a layer of plastic took care of the problem handily. But it’s nonrenewable and not recycled.

If it’s going to be used in an organic production system, reasoned Miles, now a vegetable horticulturist at the WSU Mount Vernon … » More …