Tag Archives: pacific northwest

Orcasong Farm

By Teri Williams

Now this is the way to welcome Fall – by celebrating with our community at Orcasong.

So honored to receive the invite and have a chance to check out this new and exciting farm I’ve been watching for many months. I live just around the corner and have been watching the transformation, the newest being the lavender fields.

You can feel the energy coming from the farmers tending the land. Fencing was erected, the ground was tilled, materials and farm hands showed up and then the planting. What could it be? Lavender … and the promise of color and sweet fragrance to come!

But lavender is not all this farm is producing.

Orcasong’s mission is to restore the land they steward on Orcas Island using ecologically regenerative practices. Guided by the wisdom of nature, they are committed to local resilience and social change and to advance through holistic education, arts and event programming, environmental advocacy and interwoven farm-based enterprises.

You can feel the mission statement when you arrive. On this day, farmers were working in the gardens and offer big smiles encouraging me to come help harvest fresh vegetables, wander and dream in the flower-filled overgrown garden laid out with purpose and standing proud in the soil. I love the mix, feeding the soul and the body.

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Walking around the grounds, you can see the love and intention given to every detail. These farmers really walk the talk, collaborating with a team that searches for solutions to keep them connected to the land, the people and this community.

Standing among them, I can’t help but feel how life can keep us spinning in our own worlds, keeping us from slowing down and taking in the gifts right in front of us.

Food, friends, song, sharing, dreaming – it just doesn’t get any closer to “island life” than this experience.

In Gratitude.

www.orcasongfarm.org

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Summer Sailing with Grama T

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By Teri Williams

The summer of 2016 is flying by!! Squeezing in some family fun is a must and Grama T found some on her SV Blue Pearl. 30′ filled to the rails with kids and grandkids (9 total) for an overnight in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island. When you have this many on a boat meant to sleep two, you head to a dock with amenities and space. Roche is a great place where you will find activity for all ages. But the fun is being on the boat together. Had great wind, plenty of sunshine and enjoyed a crab dinner coming home. Life does not get better than this.

Where do you find your bliss?

Where do you find your bliss?

Deck hands taking a break

Deck hands taking a break

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life

Fish on!!!

Fish on!!!

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Dad time

Dad time

Jammie time

Jammie time

Reading books at bedtime

Reading books at bedtime

Gramps J having fun

Gramps J having fun

Brother time

Brother time

Nap time

Nap time

Love these two!

Love these two!

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Catching the wind, trimming the sails

Watching for whales

Watching for whales

Girls getting too much wind

Girls getting too much wind

Life is good

Life is good

Crabbing with Gramps J

Crabbing with Grampa J

All hands on deck

All hands on deck

Hope to see you out on the water enjoying family and the Salish Sea that surrounds us here on Orcas Island.

Grama T

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Celebrating Summer in the School Garden

A long and productive spring in the school garden led right up to the last day of school! What better way to celebrate and culminate another school year than with a pizza party in the garden?2016PizzaParty_SchoolGarden (11 of 17)

Orcas Island Elementary students each spend one hour a week working in the school garden in a class I teach called Farm to Classroom. At almost 8,000 square feet, the school garden requires individual attention from each of the 200 students. Some children take on assigned tasks such as weeding, hauling compost and planting.

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Harvesting strawberries and pulling weeds.

Other children take on projects of their own choosing. One class was dubbed “the diggers” for their love of digging!

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“The Diggers”

Another group of students took weekly responsibility for watering plants.

13499604_1783696268532929_564887034_oOne boy decided it was time to properly install the large stainless sink we salvaged from the old shop building before it was torn down. Each week he would lead a group in the many steps it took to put  the sink in its final resting place.

When the wood chips arrived, donated by Tim’s Tractor Service and delivered by Tim’s son James Segault of Island Climb Inc., the students ban together to move the massive mountain all around the garden. Throughout all of this garden work you can see real-world examples of children caring for the environment, working together, problem solving, communicating, using physical skills, and eating healthy. These are important life skills that no standardized test can ever measure.

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A delivery of wood chips for our paths from Tim’s Tractor Service and Island Climbing Inc.

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Working together to move a mountain of wood chips!

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Unloading a truck full of firewood. Many hands make for light work.

A cornerstone of the children’s time in the garden is the idea that you may only enjoy the fruits of your labor, after you labor! The last ten minutes of each class is dedicated to “harvest time”. During this time the children graze in the garden, eating fresh from the plants they have nurtured. This may be one of the most rewarding times for me as the teacher. It only seemed fitting to end our school year with a garden pizza party using our cob oven.

The pizza party couldn’t happen with out the help and generous donation of James Ferraris of Soul Flour Bakery, AKA The Pizza Man!  James makes the best pizza dough and knows how to bring each pizza out with the perfect amount of doneness.

The children are the real artists at this event. They are supplied pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. The rest is up to them! The toppings come from the plants they lovingly grew. Pizzas topped with strawberries, sorrel and mint are popular. Garlic scapes, borage flowers, rosemary and raspberries top others. There is no limit to the creations they come up with. After each pizza comes out of the oven the chef or chefs responsible tell their classmates what ingredients they used. Then the creators get the first slices and the other children sample after them. Pizza after pizza comes through in this way. The children turn into food critics, analyzing the combinations placed before them. The pizza is devoured and never are the usual pepperoni and sausage toppings missed.

Another remarkable year in the school garden has been completed. If you would like to see our garden please stop by and check it out. If you would like a tour of the garden, we will be on this year’s Orcas Island Garden Club tour June 25th and 26th.

Now that school is out, I’ll be spending the summer with family and friends, taking road trips, and helping people buy and sell real estate on this amazing Island I call home. I love summertime on Orcas Island!

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Johnny visiting Momma in the garden.

 

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Lost On Waldron

teri_cropBy Teri Williams

SV Blue Pearl left Bay Head Marina on Orcas Island at 12:45 p.m., headed to Mail Bay, Waldron Island on the west side of Presidents Channel. Drizzling, no wind (Jay says of course, we are taking our sailboat out!). No current book but the tide has a small change so off we go.

Arrived Mail Bay at 2:45. Rain stopped, flat water. Warm. Overcast.

IMG_7590Uncle Bill met me with a big hug and said, “Let’s go!” Off we went on his four-wheeler with duck tape and a jerry rigged gear shift. He was hell bent on showing me all of his property I was listing. What a ride! I heard the history of Bill Carlson’s Waldron at full throttle flying down old dirt roads. I could just see my cousins Mike and Howie back in the day flying down these roads on horseback to get to school. Bill purchased acreage for logging back in the sixties when he was a young buck (he is 79 today). A proud man, he told me of the wells dug, timber harvested and Mail Bay log dump, pointing out the relics of machinery over grown with berry briars, building the family A-frame cabin and clearing fields for cattle. He no longer logs or runs cattle on Waldron, but the memories are fresh in his mind. We jumped pot holes, swerved at the one tractor we passed and down shifted on the downhill run due to the fact the only good brake on the four-wheeler was on his bad side (body strength lost). I was hangin’ on!!

IMG_7592Back at the cabin, Bill says Jay should take me on a tour in the old rusty dodge 4×4, which says “Harvey go now” on the side panel. True to course, you had to coast-start the truck. Good thing it was parked pointing down hill. One brake works, the clutch had a bungee cord holding it together. Jay turned the key, the dash lit up, he popped the clutch and off we went. When asked if I knew where we were going, I said confidently, “Oh ya!.” After all, I just went road trippin’ with Uncle Bill!

To the untrained eye, all the dirt roads on Waldron look the same. They run like a maze through a dense lush forest with surprise openings of field and gardens. Eclectic homes tucked here and there, long driveways leading to privacy and a simple life. We were headed to find the post office and County dock. Not too far from the A-frame, no worries. Well, we soon found out that you could drive for hours and still not know which direction you were headed. We met two island girls walking down the dirt road, case of beer and a dog in hand. Looked like a “roll with it” way to spend a day on Waldron. I am grateful they did not take offense and “school” these two obvious trespassers too much. They pointed in the opposite direction the truck was pointing and said, “Head that way until you see the big road.” That is the County Road. Take a right and you will run right in to the Post Office. Duh! Of course, look for the big road.

Eventually, we found the dock and post office. It was getting dark and we still had to navigate back to the A-frame, so we spent just enough time there to know that we need to get back to this quiet island and get more history, starting first with the County dock and post office.

IMG_7589Sunday morning found us starting our SV Blue Pearl engine at 10:14 a.m., leaving uncle Bill’s dock. After tea, coffee and watermelon at the A-frame, we headed back to Orcas knowing we would need to return to explore more of Waldron Island.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birdfest on Orcas

teri_cropBy Teri Williams

Spring is my favorite time of the year for so many reasons.

I’m back in my garden, seeds are sprouting, flowers are blooming, and birds are nesting and singing.

From hummingbirds zipping around my garden to eagles nesting across the valley, we have a huge variety of birds to appreciate.

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Get your birding book out and enjoy learning about these little chirpers! This photo was found Googling birds in the San Juan Islands.

And Orcas celebrates our feathered friends with a little help from the Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the annual Birdfest, a celebration of birds! This year, the Orcas Island Birdfest runs for four days: Thursday, April 30 through Sunday, May 2.

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Sharp Shined Hawk

 

The schedule is packed with bird walks and nature tours, workshops, a fine art exhibition and scientific symposium, all focusing on the wonder of birds and grassroots solutions for maintaining healthy populations.

Even if you are not a “birder,” this is an unforgettable experience showcasing the natural splendor of the San Juan Islands.

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Hooded Mergansers at Otter’s Pond, ready to have ducklings in a month.

Grab your binoculars, pack your Birding in the San Juan Islands by Mark G. Lewis, put your hiking boots on and get ready for some local color and sound.

Wood peckers are easy to spot

Pileated woodpeckers are easy to spot.

Visit www.otterspond.com for a list of birds you can see on Orcas Island.

For information about the 2015 Birdfest and a complete calendar of events, visit  OrcasIslandBirdFest.com.

Happy Birding!

 

 

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oh…… what to do with those luscious, juicy, colorful tasty tomatoes.

Here are 4 easy recipes to preserve your summer harvest.Toms

No Cook Sunshine Tomato Sauce- Clean Eating September 2014-Give several summer ripe tomatoes a light rinse. Chop

Easy Sunshine Tomatoes Sauce

Easy Sunshine Tomatoes Sauce

coarsely and dump into a large jar. Mash a few garlic cloves (I like a lot of garlic) add to jar. Add 1 cup of olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have vinegar, use lemon or lime juice. The better the quality, the better the flavor on both oil and vinegar. Add sea salt and ground pepper to taste. If you have fresh basil, oregano, rosemary or thyme, tie up in bunch and toss in too. Put the lid on; shake the jar to mix contents, set in the sun or hot sunny window. Let sit to soak up the heat of the sun for 4 hours (can do longer time, do not recommend shorter time). Pull herbs out. Serve with crusty bread or use as a light raw sauce for pasta. I blended my jar contents and warmed in a cast iron skillet, spoon over ravioli, top with shaved parmesan cheese. You can freeze or keep in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Homemade Tomato Paste- Maple Rock’s Farmer John-Take your split and over ripe toms and cook them down in a pot to the point that you can macerate them with a potato masher or even a stick blender if you have one.  After mashing them, run them through a food mill to remove the skin and seeds (I skipped this step). At this point you have a watered down sauce (sometimes I’ll drain off some of that liquid prior to mashing). Transfer the sauce in the pot onto the biggest sheet pans (I used cake pans) that will fit in your oven and cook it down for one hour at 350 then take it down to 250 for another two- three hours.  Stir occasionally and add some nice olive oil and salt to taste.  We like to make as big of a batch of this as we can and freeze it in pint jars not quite filled to the top.  Keep one in the fridge all the time to add to just about anything you can think of.

Salsa- Years of Adding and Subtracting in Teri’s Kitchen and Ball Blue Book

Add chips and tequila!!!!

Add chips and tequila!!!!

10 cups chopped tomatoes (I include skin and seeds, can remove if desired) about 6 lbs.

5 cups chopped green bell pepper, seeded. About 2 lbs.

5 cups chopped onion (you choose type, I use Walla Walla) about 2 lbs.

2.5 cups chopped, seeded hot peppers. (I usually use a variety based on what my farmer is growing. Include some seeds for more heat). For deeper flavor, roast peppers first, then remove skins. About 1-2 lbs. Be sure to wear gloves

2 garlic heads. (can vary dependent on your taste, however, too little is not good).

1 tblsp hot sauce

2 tblsp dried red pepper

1-2 tblsp crushed cumin

1 ¼ cup cider vinegar

Salt to taste

Big hand full of chopped cilantro

Chopped and combine all ingredients (EXCEPT CILANTRO). Place in large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cilantro. Ladle hot salsa in prepared jars, leaving ½” headroom. Cover with seal/screw top. Process 20 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Dried Tomatoes- Easy-This is great use of blemished or split tomatoes. I usually use this method after I have done all of the

Better than sun dried tomatoes and can done any time of the year!

Can be done any time of the year!

above and am tired or ran out of jar space in the pantry. Clean tomatoes, cut stem and blemish/bad areas away. Slice the tomatoes about 1/8” thick. This is a guideline. Too thin, they come out crispy, too thick, they come out chewing and are more likely to mold in the jar. Coat the trays with a non stick spray or rub with olive oil to keep slices from sticking to the tray. Place slices on tray, leaving room around the slices so they have air circulation around all sides. Set dryer on 135 degrees for 5 hours. The timing can vary, checking every two hours until dried to your preference (close to potato chip crisp). Turn off the dryer and let tomatoes cool completely. Store in an airtight jar. Great to eat as is, or add to quiche, soups or sauces for a strong tomato flavor that will delight your taste buds.

Enjoy preserving, eating, sharing and pairing all of the above- teri

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Prawns and Fettuccini

Posted by Teri

This is soooo easy, fresh and light. A dish that is just right for a summer casual patio dinner. I pulled the recipe out of a magazine (Rachel Ray’s, Whole Living, Light Cooking or Martha) Not sure which one. I have since lost the recipe so I create by memory… that’s my style. I do not like to follow directions.

Serves two people with a little left for Jay’s next day lunch.

Peel a hand full (10) prawns, set aside.

Local prawns

Local prawns

½ package of fettuccini. Place pasta in boiling pot of water while you make sauce below. Cook fettuccini to al dente. I have used many styles, rice, whole wheat, egg noodle. Any style you choose will be great with this light sauce.

Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet (I have the biggest collect of cast iron skillets in San Juan County!)

Add chopped or grated garlic and sauté, careful not to burn.

Add ½ c. white wine and bring to a simmer.

Turn heat to low, add ½ c. Crème Fraiche and mix well. I have added more if my noodles seemed too much and needing more love.

Add 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.

Add prawns and cook 2-3 minutes, just until they turn pink.

Add cook pasta and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

Light, fresh sauce adds just the right touch to local seafood

Light, fresh sauce adds just the right touch to local seafood

Serve in bowls with freshly grated parmesan cheese, a hint of grated lemon peel and chopped chives.

I serve this with a side green salad. Top with a splash of color with sliced green grapes and strawberries.

Crudités are a great side as well

I recommend serving around a fire on the patio with a great bottle of wine-bonus= ROMANCE!!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island? Contact T Williams Realty – we’ll help you find your way home.

 

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Snow Days in the San Juans

Posted by Sandi

Well it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s wonderful.

The already relaxed winter pace stops abruptly in its snow-tracks, leaving us to cozy by our woodstoves, sip a steamy drink, read a coveted book, check on neighbors and marvel at the scene around us. The evergreen island you thought couldn’t possibly get more beautiful dons her white lace gown and simply takes your breath away. She doesn’t overstay her welcome – just long enough to shake up your routine in a good way, making time for introspection and new perspectives on the natural world. I love it.

I wanted to take photos around the island this week, but with the exception of a few shots on Sunday before “the storm,” it wasn’t meant to be. The steep road in our neighborhood was relegated to makeshift sleds, and my exploration limited to foot travel.  If you have some pics you’d like to share, please post them!

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Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.

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A Transplant Grows Native-Crazy

Posted by Sandi

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a native plant buff. When I moved from Florida to Orcas I was excited to start learning about the extraordinary native plants here in the Pacific Northwest. Our property is sloped and rocky, partially wooded, with moss and deer everywhere. So gardening with natives has turned out to be both practical and rewarding. An even bigger benefit, though, is conserving and promoting biodiversity. (Read this article to fully understand why this is so important.) I thought I’d share a few of my most-used resources and links:

Wallace W Hansen Garden Planner

This hand-illustrated guide is no longer on the Wallace H Hansen website, but I have a pdf copy I can share.

My hard-copy library includes the following:

  • Wild Plants of the San Juan Islands – Atkinson/Sharpe
  • Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest – Kruckeberg
  • Native Plants in the Coastal Garden – Pettinger/Costanzo
  • Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest – Link

I just had a fantastic onsite consultation this week with Michael Budnick and Laura Gibbons of Northwest Concepts. They are the go-to native plant landscapers in the San Juan Islands. I’m going to start implementing some of their ideas this fall and will post updates.

Got any favorite native plant resources? Please share!

 

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.

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