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.
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.
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?
Deck hands taking a break
Beautiful day for kids to look for sea life
Reading books at bedtime
Gramps J having fun
Love these two!
Catching the wind, trimming the sails
Watching for whales
Girls getting too much wind
Life is good
Crabbing with Grampa J
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.
Each day should be meaningful, not just the holidays. Life is busy and the days fly by with little time to stop and think about the family and friends we love.
For me, the holidays should be more than spending money on unwanted gifts just because tradition tells us we must, and its quick. Also, I like feeling flush in January! Our family tradition is making gifts for the holiday.
In November, we choose names and become Secret Santas. Then, we set off thinking about our talents and the interests of the person we chose. Giggles happen, because you are never too old to have a secret, and you discover you have NO talent! Well, this year we found we have much talent in this family. Check out the DIY projects below, just maybe you find your next years inspiration.
Darby is a photographer and put together a Shutterfly photo album of last year ‘s life on Orcas with her kids and husband. What a great year it was, and fun to see all the adventure we had both on land and sea.
Jay enjoys photos in the album Darby made.
Jay loves to weld and made an awesome steel set of Orcas Island shaped bookends.
Darby admires an Orcas Island bookend made by Jay.
I had my son Cory to think about this year. He joined Permit Resources office and has begun to collect quite a collection of certificates, maps, contact lists, etc. which began to pepper the office walls. Well, what do you do with your saved wine corks? Make a wine cork board! Eastsound maps used as a frame – useful and artistic!
Cory is thrilled with the wine cork board I made for him.
Randy worked all week making soap from lavender in my garden and some bunny “pellets” from the yard. Randy set out to melt and mold soaps and fire starters – apparently if you roast and wax bunny pellets you have a fire starter.
Monee loves the soap hand-crafted by Randy from local materials.
Monee made Gramma T and granddaughter Eleanor matching aprons. Let’s get cooking!
I’m ready to cook in the new apron Monee made.
Creativity, finding we each have talent, really thinking and focusing on your receiver and putting thought into your gift gives a depth to the experience that “home made” just can’t describe. It’s creates time spent together without being together. Gotta love that!
Not a lot has changed since I was a teenager growing up on Orcas Island 20-25 years ago, and that’s not a bad thing. The Sea View Theatre still shows one movie a week and The Village Stop, (Con’s) still has soft serve ice cream. Being a teenager on an island is actually pretty great, especially Orcas Island. The days are long and the weather is generally perfect with average temps in the 70’s and clear, sunny skies. Our island is a major tourist destination during the summer which means that local businesses are in need of seasonal help. Orcas teens are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn new skills and make some money each summer. The jobs are plentiful and range from store clerks to firewood splitters and everything in between. Here are a few Orcas teens that I came across at work recently.
Off to Island Market I am helped by high school Junior Rowan Lister. It is humbling to ask him to reach things on the high shelf for me, after-all I have known him since he was a baby! After handing me the item I ask him what he is saving his money for. He tells me that he wants to buy a knight’s suit of armor for his younger brother! Shhh… it’s a surprise!
At the local clothing consignment store Sequel, I run into Junior Bethany Hansen. She is just as friendly as always even though she is on the tail end of a 52 hour work week. She works nights at a local restaurant, as well as her day job at Sequel. She says not all weeks are like this, but she wants to earn a lot of money so she can buy a car before school starts.
Walking past The Kitchen I see a familiar face, it’s Brother Murphy! Brother is a high school Junior and all around friendly guy so his job at The Kitchen is a good fit. The Kitchen serves fresh Asian food in a relaxed outdoor environment. Brother helps prep the food, serve, and does the dishes. All good life skills!
I decide to stop in and see my son Jordan Randolph at the recently opened and very popular Clever Cow Creamery. The line is out the door with people anxiously awaiting a taste of the locally produced handcrafted ice cream. I work my way in and find Jordan and co-worker Kyle happily scooping and serving ice cream. The line doesn’t let up in the time I am there and Jordan tells me later that they didn’t see a break in the line for three hours! As I watch, I see the boys working steady, having pleasant interactions with the customers, and even cracking a few jokes along the way. I am filled with overwhelming “mom pride” as I walk away. My son has grown into a capable and kind young man. I knew this already but seeing him at work somehow makes it more real. I appreciate the owners of the Clever Cow for giving my teenage son his first “real” job.
Out at Moran State Park the owners of Orcas Adventures rely heavily on Orcas teens to keep a safe and fun working environment. Owners Edward and Fiona Stone grew up on Orcas and were once teens looking for summer work themselves! There are currently six high school and college students working the Sugar Shack and the Boat Dock. Yes, Orcas graduates do consistently come back for summer work on Orcas. Why not? The work is readily available and the rent is usually free!
It’s not all work for Island teens, they know how to make the most of their free time. With no malls to hang out at, and only one movie showing per week, our kids have to get more creative. Orcas teens know they have it good. They take advantage of the beauty that surrounds them. You will find them swimming, hiking, fishing, biking, boating, beach-combing, and sunset watching. Here are a few pictures I found on facebook from some of my son’s friends (yes, they gave me permission to use them).
A morning run on Mt.Constitution!
Friends hanging out at the lake.
Sunset toss in the Salish Sea!
Sunset Yogi Charlie.
Stopping by to see mom at TWilliams Realty!
It’s a charmed life for sure! I am grateful to have been raised on this amazing island and so happy that I am providing the same opportunities for my children. If a move to Orcas Island is in your future please give me a call and I’d be happy to show you around… Island Style!
Orcas Island School District is home to one fantastic school garden. You’ll find it right there next to the great maple tree in front of the big brick building that houses Orcas Island Elementary School.
The garden is maintained by the Elementary Children during a weekly class called Farm to Classroom. I have been teaching this class since its inception almost six years ago. It is a labor of love and a time of great discovery by all.
Miss Mandy sharing a watermelon grown in the school garden with some eager students!
One of my favorite activities in the garden is the yearly “great potato dig” with the Kindergarteners. It is early October in the school garden and the potato patch is ready for picking! Enter 35 Kindergarten Students. First a quick lesson on potatoes. You wouldn’t believe how many 5 year olds don’t know that potatoes grow under the ground. You can imagine the delight on their faces once they realize that they get to dig for the buried treasure.
Farm to Classroom students digging for potatoes!
The digging commences and soil starts flying from the children who dig with wild abandon. Some of the kids decide it is much tidier to pull the plant and pick the potatoes off the roots. Everyone is actively engaged.
Beautiful red potatoes and the excitement of pulling out the entire plant with potatoes still attached at the roots!
Oh, the squeals of delight as they find their first potato! And then the variety of colors and potato shapes cause more shrieks of delight and several shouts of “Show me, show me!”
Just look at our variety of potatoes. Red, purple, blue, yellow, and we even grew a heart shaped potato!
The potato patch was plentiful this year. We started a new patch in a well-seasoned compost pile. Added to that was a delivery of soil from San Juan Sanitation to establish a nice deep area of loose soil. We planted organic potato seeds of several varieties. What a fabulous combination. We will use these potatoes for cooking projects in the classroom this winter.
“This one looks like a person!”
The children have put the garden “to bed” for the winter. The potato patch was gently tucked in with a cover crop of fava beans that will certainly provide another exciting opportunity for discovery next spring!
Third and Fourth grade students prepare the potato patch for the fava bean cover crop planting.