Delicious Writing at Orcas Island Lit Fest

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Opening night of the 2019 Orcas Island Lit Fest BOUNTY: Lopez Island Farmers, Food, and Community author Iris Graville will moderate “Delicious Writing”, a panel featuring Lopez chef and BOUNTY co-author Kim Bast!   Others on the panel are poet and farmer Jessica Gigot, author of Sea and Smoke cookbook Joe Ray,  and J. Ryan Stradal author of the bestselling Kitchens of the Great Midwest.   For more information go to



Sea View Theatre / 5–6 p.m.
Poems, essays, restaurant reviews, profiles, novels, and, of course, cookbooks—they all find a wide audience when they’re about food and drink. They entice us to try new cuisines and techniques; give us glimpses into the worlds of restaurants, sustainable agriculture, and locavorism; and help us decide how and where to sate our palates and fill our cupboards. Feast with this panel of experts as they share stories, wisdom, and dreams about how writing whets our appetites.

This event is free and open to the public.

Farmer Update: Barn Owl Bakery

20180715_203226Since we began five years ago we’ve always grown a big garden to supply our bakery and home with fresh produce. Some years we’ve done row crops with a more intensive style, but mostly we go with a no-till deep mulch system in our garden here on @midnightsfarm . For the bakery this year we’re growing out golden flax, black cumin, fennel seed, dill, blue fenugreek, Ziar bread seed poppies, parsley, marjoram, oregano, savory, thyme, basil, chives, japanese cherry tomatoes, summer squash and their blossoms, peas and shoots, amaranth, kale, calendula, nasturtiums, borage, four rare heritage wheats, black einkorn, and chervil. In addition we do about two acres of heritage grain trials and seed expansions. Sometimes when we’re at the farmer’s market and dead dog tired trying to sell a few more loaves or hand pies, we have to wonder if it’s worth the extra effort to not just be bakers but grow some of our ingredients too, and it’s evenings like these in the garden as the plants reach their peak and the sun gets thick that we are like, heck yes, totally and definitely, yeah. The joy and challenge of partnering with the non-human world of the garden seems like a humans most basic role. Just like working with our sourdough community to make our loaves rise, we look to befriend our soil ecology to grow the ingredients. Also huge shout out to @uprising.seeds and@tanddfarms for the seeds and starts that get our garden growing every year.

Sage Dilts and Nathan Hodges

BOUNTY Event on Orcas Island!

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Iris, Kim, and Sue will be at Darvill’s Bookstore on Wednesday, November 15th!

Join us at 6:00 pm as we reminisce about the three year process of creating the book, including anecdotes about Lopez Island farmers and food.  Pear and Fig Mostarda (Chickadee Farm recipe) will be served with Sunnyfield Farm chèvre, and Barn Owl Bakery bread.

Thank you Orcas Artsmith and Darvill’s Bookstore!

BOUNTY second printing!

Thank you Lopez for buying all of the first printing of the BOUNTY book in just one month!  The second printing arrived at the Lopez Bookshop just in time for Christmas. If you don’t have a copy yet Karen will be happy to sell you one.  The proceeds from the sale of the second printing will go to support the Lopez School Garden L.I.F.E. program!


BOUNTY Book Release October 21!


BOUNTY: Lopez Island Farmers, Food, and Community will be released at an event at Lopez Center for Community and the Arts on Friday, Oct. 21, 5-7 PM. The beautiful BOUNTY Photo Exhibit will be on view and copies of the book will be on sale.

Join the CELEBRATION!  The photographers, the writer, and chef will be available to sign the book.  The book will also be available for purchase at the LCLT Annual Harvest Dinner the following evening, Oct. 22 and at the Lopez Bookshop.

This 124-page book combines photographs, profiles, and recipes for twenty-eight Lopez Island farms and farmers to present an intimate, behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to bring food from earth to table on Lopez Island.


“Know Your Farmer” Exhibit at Lopez Library!

The BOUNTY “Know Your Farmer” Photo Exhibit is returning to the Lopez Library from July 15 – August 26.  View 14 stunning photographs by Steve Horn, Summer Moon Scriver, and Robert S. Harrison with farmer profiles from Iris Graville.  The goal of this exhibit is to inspire you to get to know your local farmers and the abundance of healthy food they produce. Local farming is good for our health, environment, and economy and preserves the cherished rural beauty of Lopez Island.

BOUNTY is a community endeavor celebrating our local food producers through the art of photography and the written word. This Library exhibit features photographs and profiles for some of the BOUNTY project’s 28 farms. The entire exhibit will be on display again at Lopez Center on October 21 until November 5, 2016.

The following eight BOUNTY farm photographs and farmer profiles have not been exhibited at the Library because these photographs were sold during the first “Know Your Farmer” exhibit in October of 2015 at the Lopez Center.  ENJOY!


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Work at it.

“Fences are the biggest challenge. You just get through building or fixing one, and you start over again.”

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Buffum Brothers Farm – Gary Buffum and M.R. Buffum

Brothers Gary and M.R. Buffum grew up on the farm they still work today. M.R. remembers buying his first Holstein bull calf when he was fifteen years old. Now, he and Gary work 1100 acres for grain, hay, pigs, and 130 calf/mother pairs (mostly Angus). When they’re not taking care of their animals (or repairing fences), they’re running another division of their farm—Lopez Sand & Gravel and Excavating. For decades, Gary and M.R. have worked in the islands clearing roads, building bulkheads, excavating ponds, logging, and delivering sand and gravel as well as wood chips, manure, and topsoil. Their advice for other farmers: “Don’t spend money you don’t have.”




tradition, nutrition, regeneration

“All across America, industrial agriculture is sterilizing our topsoil, devitalizing our food, and warming the planet. We grow GMO-free, nutrient-dense food to nourish our family and our customers who crave real food.”


Chickadee Produce – Charles and Clarissa Mish

Charles Mish grew up in Michigan around aunts and uncles who farmed, raising vegetables, chickens, and pigs as well as operating a cheese factory. Seeing their direct connection with nature made an impression on him: “It’s what I wanted to recapture when Clarissa and I started growing our own food.” The couple views their biodynamic farm as a way to help with climate change and regenerate the earth. “If only 2% more of the world’s arable land returned to organic farming,” Charles says, “we could actually begin to reverse global warming by sequestering carbon dioxide in the living soil.”

Charles’s approach is labor-intensive as he strives for the right balance of manure, compost, and sea crop trace minerals to enrich the soil, while also combating quack grass and slugs. The payoff? “Food that doesn’t taste like cardboard.”

Chickadee Produce includes fruit (Spartan, Jonagold, Melrose, Red Gravenstein, and Brown Russett apples; Asian and Bosc pears; and Mirabelle plums) and potatoes. Charles says people tell him they can taste the quality with his Yukon Gold, German Butterball, Yellow Finn, and Nicola potatoes. His favorites are the French Fingerlings. “Sliced, cooked in olive oil, and seasoned with a sprig of rosemary—” Charles says, “delicious.”



soggy sheep, frolicking lambs

“The patterns in farming, whether it be the seasonality of activities or the processes, give one a satisfying sense of time and place.”

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Flint Beach Ohana – Sally and Tom Reeve

Neither Tom nor Sally Reeve grew up on a farm or ever imagined raising sheep—until they “inherited” some when they bought their land near Iceberg Point. They started with the North Country Cheviots that were on the property, but soon discovered this breed has a tendency to roam. “They’d get around the fence and clamber on the beach,” Tom says. The farm name honors both Lopez history and Tom’s growing up in Hawaii; the beach beyond the pasture is Flint Beach, named by the land’s homesteaders, and Ohana means “family” in Hawaiian.

Sheep farmers Oakley Goodner and Dave and Becky Heinlein steered the couple to books about managing ewes and lambs. Sally would read in the barn late at night with a flashlight and a cat on her lap, learning how to care for sheep in, as she says, “a non-chemical, non-production mode.” Along the way, Sally realized that caring for her flock and juggling numerous other commitments (such as serving as an EMT with the Lopez Fire Department) was more than she could handle alone. With the assistance of Dave Rucker, Sally experimented with a variety of breeds and now offers pasture-raised, USDA-inspected Romney lamb, with the “essence of salt spray from the Straits.”



life, work, gratitude

“Farming provides us a connection with our past. It’s beautiful, fascinating, physical work, always new and challenging.”


Helen’s Farm – Blake and Julie Johnston

Blake and Julie Johnston have overcome one of the most difficult challenges facing aspiring Lopez farmers—finding land. After honing their skills at S&S Homestead Farm, they dreamed of starting Helen’s Farm, named after two Helens—Julie’s grandmother (who was a farmer) and Blake’s great-grandmother. For a few years, they leased a half-dozen small parcels scattered across the island to raise organic vegetables, broiler chickens, pigs, and grass-fed cattle. Now they’ve consolidated their farming efforts, leasing 50 acres from Rita O’Boyle in the center of the island. On this land that had, for many years, been harvested for hay, Blake and Julie are trying “to help our little corner of the world function in a thoughtful and healthy way.” They strive to strike a balance between developing an efficient and productive farm without depleting resources that they know are in short supply. Farming is teaching them to take things slowly—allowing themselves “to develop, grow, and change” in ways they hadn’t expected.



beauty, abundance, cycles

“It’s gratifying to raise food that’s healthy and that sustains people and the land.”

Horse Drawn Farm – Ken Akopiantz and Kathryn Thomas

Nothing goes to waste at Horse Drawn’s 80-acre farm along Port Stanley Road. For example, the pigs that Kathryn Thomas and Ken Akopiantz raise eat the “cull” vegetables (organic and delicious, just not pretty), and their bedding and manure turns into fertilizer. The chickens eat all the family’s household food waste. Ken and Kathryn apply these and other sustainable practices to raise vegetables, herbs, flowers, cattle, Coopworth and North Country Cheviot sheep, and Berkshire/Hampshire pigs on their animal-powered (horses and oxen) farm. Horse Drawn products are available at a self-serve farm stand, open day and night, all year long. These long-time farmers can’t imagine doing any other kind of work, and they view all the cycles, all the aspects of farming, as part of a big circle. They have some disappointments every year—plants that don’t work, geese over-running the fields, stillbirths with the animals, pests. “But we just keep going,” they say. “We’re rewarded by seeing people discover fresh food and knowing that ninety percent of what we raise is consumed locally.”


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resilience, self-reliance, sharing

“The basic idea is—you plant the seeds, let some go to seed, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow.”

Lopez Community Land Trust Seed Library – Ken Akopiantz, Seed Librarian
Everyone knows about borrowing books from a library, but on Lopez Island, gardeners and farmers can borrow—and return—seeds at the Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT) Seed Library. The LCLT developed this community seed project to preserve and develop open-pollinated seeds suited to the island’s unique maritime climate. The Seed Library, located next to the LCLT office at the Common Ground neighborhood, is a temperature- and humidity-controlled vault that provides a safe and organized place to store seeds.
Seed Librarian (and farmer) Ken Akopiantz developed a Seed Exchange Catalog that lists everything from beans to turnips, with many varieties named in honor of local residents. Among the seeds you’ll find in the catalog are island heirloom beans such as the Bond Bean, from Joe Bond of Orcas Island, and the Kring Bean, from Francis Kring of Lopez. Steven’s Kabocha squash, grown and bred by Lopezian Steven Wrubleski, “is destined to become an heirloom,” and Fortuna Wheat, introduced on Lopez in 2008, is regularly used by Barn Owl Bakery to create its “Lopez Loaf.”



spirituality, joy, fulfillment

“One of the most important lessons we’ve learned as farmers is to listen to the land, the plants, and the animals.”

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S&S Homestead Farm – Elizabeth Simpson and Henning Sehmsdorf

Henning Sehmsdorf and Elizabeth Simpson’s goal for their 50-acre, biodynamic farm is to feed themselves, their animals, and their soil from farm-grown resources. They also strive to produce wood products from their small forest as well as their own electricity and water. The farm shares its yield through a whole-diet CSA and sales at the Lopez Farmers Market.

Both Elizabeth and Henning are veteran teachers, and they put those skills to work at the farm’s S&S Center for Sustainable Agriculture. For Lopez High School students, an elective class allows them to experience the entire “seed-to-plate” cycle at the farm. The students prepare soil; plant crops; and care for the farm’s cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. The Center also involves apprentices and interns in all aspects of the whole farm organism. Their workshops, farm tours, and classes cover a wide variety of topics including farm economics; machine maintenance; vegetable production and seed saving; animal husbandry; pasture management; grain production; and bread-baking, fermentation, and cheese- and butter-making. “Our hope through these efforts,” they say, “is that our farm and programs will continue beyond our working lifetime.”


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scent, touch, taste

“As the swallows miraculously arrive each spring, so have I learned to trust my instincts in my garden dance. I’m drawn like a compass needle into my garden and greenhouse, pulled, as the moon pulls the tides, to seed those first tomatoes, peppers, and peas.”

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Skyriver Ranch – Irene Skyriver

From the time of her first garden over forty years ago, stories from Irene Skyriver’s grandparents and parents have motivated her. They weathered the Great Depression working hard, but eating well, on a farm in Monroe, WA. “My grandfather’s spirit whispers to take up the hoe,” she says.

Now, as Irene stewards Lopez land purchased in 1968, she views growing food as a sacred obligation that also “feeds” her in many ways. Pruning, weeding, shoveling, milking goats, and harvesting serve as her yoga class, meditation, aerobics, medicine chest, teacher, and sanctuary. Irene feels “blessed by all of this, plus, year-round organic food in my larders and enough income from plant starts and produce sales at the Southend General Store to cover each year’s start-up costs.” Irene explains that she’s not “scientific” in her gardening approach of saving seeds and letting plants volunteer. “I make no claims in favor of my methods,” she says, “but they work for me!”


New Kids at Sunnyfield Farm

No kidding. Yes kidding!
Posted on March 24, 2016 at

Thanks to over 100 contributors we made our crowd fundraising goal of $15,000, and then some. No kidding! Huge gratitude for this awesome phenomena. We are very excited to be moving forward with finishing the aging room and getting the equipment we need to grow the dairy.


And so the season begins. The does are kidding and so far we have 17 new baby goats born beautiful and healthy, jumping around and getting into mischief within days of birth. Ada, our daughter turning 1 year end of March, squeals with delight at the sight of them. The mamas are getting out to green pasture and come back to the barn often to visit their kids.


Now getting into the routine again of milking twice a day, and though most the milk goes directly to the kids (for a couple months), we are getting enough milk to start making batches of fresh goat cheese, aka chèvre, in the cheese vat and will begin selling at the “Little Spring Market” we hold here at the farm every other Saturday thru April. Next market is April 2nd 10-2. So come on by and revel with us in the joys of Spring!


Photographs by Heather Gladstone


Eating Local Food

Last night the Lopez Locavores hosted their 39th Evening Meal at School serving a delicious winter meal to over 150 happy diners!  The locally-sourced organic menu included bean and squash chili with Lopez beef (veg. option available); roasted beets, apples, and onions with apple cider dressing; Lopez winter salad; summer berry cake, and herbal tea.  These meals, now in their 8th year, are always a wonderful opportunity to socialize while eating a tasty and healthy meal that you did not have to prepare.

Where else can you get local greens (other than kale) this time of year?  Thank you Christine Langley of Lopez Harvest for growing the amazing salad greens!

 The Locavores give a big thank you to all the volunteers who make these events possible!  Don’t miss the next Locavore Evening Meal at School on March 24th.

Everyone welcomed!  Donation only.