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Farmers

Fall 2013

First Words for Fall 2013

Uncle Sam took the challenge in the year of ’33

For the farmers and the workers and for all humanity

Now river, you can ramble where the sun sets in the sea

But while you’re rambling, river, you can do some work for me

—Woody Guthrie, “Roll, Columbia, Roll”

In the early 1950s, Washington State College and the Bureau of Reclamation published a Farmer’s Handbook for the Columbia Basin Project. Written for new farmers breaking ground in the newly irrigated Columbia Basin Project, the handbook offered advice on everything from what crops to grow to what kind of windbreak to … » More …

Spring 2012

A Feast of Good Things

Fall was a fortunate season at the Tonnemaker farm in Royal City, Washington. A warm October provided brothers Kurt ’84 and Kole a few extra weeks of squash, tomatoes, and peppers to load into their trucks and deliver to farmers markets and restaurants around the state.

This family farm has changed since the current generation took charge of it. It was established by WSU extension agent Orland Tonnemaker ’22 and his wife Pearl. In 1962 they planted orchards of cherries, pears, and apples. Like many of the farms around them, they sold their fruit to area warehouses.

During cherry harvest in 1981, Orland died, and … » More …

Ron ’86 and Shelly Muzzall with their daughters
Spring 2012

A Cattle Drive

Penn Cove may be known for its mussels, but just across the Whidbey Island bay from Coupeville is another operation—the Muzzall family farm, known to local grass-fed beef fans as the Three Sisters Cattle Company.

The farm was founded in 1910 by Ron Muzzall’s great-grandparents. For generations it was a dairy. When Ron ’86 returned from college, the farm had 50 cows. With his wife, Shelly, who grew up with family farming in Eastern Washington, he planned to follow in his parents’ footsteps.

But the dairy business was changing so fast. To keep up, the Muzzalls had to continuously add to their herd—something … » More …

Fall 2011

Westward Ho!

There was a time, not so long ago, in our great Northwest when boundaries were not a great concern. When the first non-Indian settlers reached the Palouse and the Columbia Plateau, they could look to the distant horizon and see nothing but blue sky and virgin prairie and shrub-steppe, potential farmland as far as they could imagine. And as they learned to know the land, they reveled in what the college scientists told them, of seemingly endless topsoil, of windblown loess 200 feet deep. But even as that soil washed and blew away at an unsettling rate, they also learned to ignore the worries of … » More …

Stuffed Peppers from the Harrah Café

12 large peppers-cut tops off, seed, and blanch. 3 lbs lean hamburger Diced pepper tops 1 medium onion, diced 2 cups instant rice 3 cups tomato sauce (reserve enough to top peppers) 1 tsp. garlic powder 1 1/2 tbsp. Johnny’s seasoning dash of Tabasco sauce optional 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients, stuff peppers, top each pepper with tomato sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Top with cheese last five minutes.

P.S. Please be mindful we are country cooks and don’t measure a thing. These are approximate amounts. Just play around with it!

Tana Olney, Owner Susan March, Manager … » More …

Fall 2005

Bounty on the bluff

The small farming community of Green Bluff lies nestled in the foothills of Mt. Spokane. Its bucolic setting belies the fact that it’s just 15 miles north of Spokane. Take a meandering drive around “the Bluff,” and you’ll pass by dozens of family farms, each with its own roadside fruit stand. Stop at any one for fresh fruit and locally made jam, wine, cider, pie, and other harvest bounty.

Green Bluff has been a production area for fruit, berries, and vegetables since the early 1900s. Back then, farmers could ship their produce from a nearby rail station to customers clear back in Eastern cities. Many … » More …

Summer 2005

Asparagus

Toppenish-area farmer Kevin Bouchey has an affinity for asparagus, which his family has been growing since 1979. “It’s a funny crop,” says Bouchey, who also farms wheat and potatoes. “In a given farm year, you usually grow a plant and then harvest the crop later. Asparagus is kind of backwards. But it’s a fun crop to raise.”

Asparagus is harvested in the spring, when its first shoots come through the earth, long before the plant has the benefit of maturing.

Asparagus officianalis comes from the lily family, along with leeks, garlic, and onions. It was first cultivated 2,500 years ago, and throughout history has been … » More …

Spring 2006

Farming in the rain

Farming in the Skokomish River Valley can be a challenge, what with 60 to 80 inches of rain a year. One year, Hunter Farms’s pumpkin fields flooded, the pumpkins bobbing like buoys on a temporary sea. Fortunately, the river receded in time for families across the South Puget Sound region to visit Hunter Farms and cart home their pumpkins.

One of the Hunter family cousins has a letter written by Isaac Woods soon after he arrived in the valley from Iowa in the 1880s. Apologizing that he couldn’t repay the $8.00 he’d borrowed from the recipient of the letter to move west, he complained about … » More …