Sunset Magazine: Pioneer in Training

Originally found in the April, 2017 edition of Sunset magazine: Northwest version

We are thrilled to be in this month's issue of Sunset Magazine!! I've been reading Sunset since I was a kid growing up in Ballard - this is a giant bucket list goal!! Thank you Sunset for including us in the Northwest regional section!!

The incredible people who teach with Seattle Farm School make this all possible. I'm so proud of them all, the fun, valuable skills they teach, and the community we are building together!!

P.S... There are only a few spots left in the April 1 Jam class, but we added a second one on May 6, just in time for Mother's Day!

http://www.seattlefarmschool.com/classes

Up, Up & Away: Meet 13 Power Moms Who Call Seattle Home

Originally published in Red Tricycle: Seattle on November 10, 2016 by Allison Sutcliffe

It may have been Stan Lee who penned, “with great power comes great responsibility,” but moms live this truth daily. Whether it’s heading a start up, running errands or coaching our sidekick’s weekend soccer game (or all of the above!), moms really do do it all. Flip through to meet 13 Seattle moms who prove you don’t need to wear a cape to have super powers.

Katie Stemp, Founder Seattle Farm School & Urban Homestead Foundation

When Katie Stemp, Founder of the Seattle Farm School and the Urban Homestead Foundation started training for the Rock & Roll half marathon back in 2014, she had no idea where it, and a few jams from Macklemore, would lead her. She had just had he second child and was struggling to find her “purpose outside of being a mom.” All her thoughts blended together to produce the Seattle Farm School that opened Oct. 2014. At the school students of all ages take classes that teach them skills to knit, garden, can jam, make goats milk soap, and even plan for an emergency with confidence. About a year later, through her connections in the homesteading community, Katie’s second venture was born, the non-profit Urban Homestead Foundation. Its goal is to create “a community gathering space based on urban agriculture.” And its plan includes food-producing, trees and bushes; mason bees and bat houses to help with pollination; and picnic benches and tables where the community can come together. Count us in!

It’s no surprise this West Seattle mom to three, Bella (7), Jonny (4) and baby Alice (due October 6), loves spending time with her family at the beach collecting rocks, building sandcastles and chasing crabs in her spare time. When it comes to work, Katie recognizes family, friends and some pretty cool tech tools she can lean on when she needs to. Her husband and kids definitely top the list, thanks to their willingness to help mom run errands, from one end of town to the next so she can get things done.

Power Mom Pearl: “I’ve…learned to give myself grace when I don’t get things done as quickly as I wish I could. There’s always more to do than time to do it….Every day is challenging, full and so rewarding.”

photo: Megan Byma

Original article: http://redtri.com/seattle/seattle-power-moms-2016/slide/11

Top 10 Egg Laying Chickens

First posted on The Weekend Prepper Chickens lay eggs all year long – with really productive hens laying more than 200 eggs a year. So if you choose your breeds carefully, you will be well supplied with eggs with only a few chickens in your flock.

Let’s take a look at 10 popular and prolific egg layers.

  • Black Sexlink – This chicken is a cross between a Barred Rock hen and a Rhode Island Red cock. It is a pretty gentle chicken and a prolific egg layer. It lays large brown eggs and typical production is approximately 240 eggs per year per bird.
  • Red Sexlink – Created by breeding a Rhode Island Red male and a Rhode Island White female, this chicken is very common in commercial breeding operations. It lays large brown eggs and its typical production is about 240 eggs per year.
  • White Leghorn – This chicken is a great egg layer but a bit of a nervous breed. It lays approximately 250 white eggs per year.
  • California White – This chicken is an excellent producer of large white eggs. They are known to lay a whopping 300 eggs per year.
  • California Gray – Like the white, this chicken will deliver a massive 300 large white eggs per year.
  • Barred Rock – This friendly breed lays approximately 200 large brown eggs per year.
  • Rhode Island White – This attractive chicken is know to lay approximately 250 brown eggs per year.
  • Gold Sexlink – A very popular hybrid chicken and a prolific producer, typically laying 250 large brown eggs per year.
  • Rhode Island Red – A great producer of large brown eggs, layinhg approximately 250 eggs per year.
  • Ameraucana (Easter Egg chickens) are know for their very colorful eggs. They are also prolific layers, often laying more than 300 eggs per year.

The Free Seed Lending Library is happening!

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This is a huge milestone for me. My good friend Krista (neighbor, Farm School teacher, gardening consultant business owner, urban farmer rockstar) and I have been working for a year to make this happen and it finally is!! We are starting a free seed lending library here in West Seattle and the grand opening is Sunday, March 13 from 2-4pm at The Healing Tree (3225 California SW). A big thank you to Therese for offering her office location and the cabinet (seen below)!

seedcabinet

 

I grew our very first home garden the year our oldest child was born (she's 7 now), and I had lost my job from the market crash layoffs, the rental house we owned was in foreclosure and we were staring down the pipeline of short-selling our own home and filing bankruptcy. Life basically sucked, except we had a beautiful new baby to keep us smiling. With half the income and a lot more "home" time, I decided I could help lower our food budget by learning how to grow whatever I could. I searched the internet for free seeds and tried to find local resources to start a home garden for as cheap as possible without a lot of luck. We made it through that crazy financial valley and I vowed to myself that someday I would make the opportunity to grow food for free or as cheap as possible to as many people as I could. Food can be free, even if it means putting in some work to make it happen and no one should go without fresh, healthy food. And better yet, it's fun to grow a community of garden loving and sharing people along the way.

Fast forward almost a decade, add in another kid, and a move to our permanent home community (I LOVE YOU WEST SEATTLE) and we've now hosted 2 community free seed swaps through Seattle Farm School (this year we had 85+ people attend!), started a Facebook group of incredible urban farmers that swap and share seeds, plants, products & wisdom (West Seattle Urban Farmers - with over 620 members!), organized and ran last summers' Urban Farm Tour of West Seattle (19 locations, 1 day, over 100 attendees!!), and now we are fulfilling the dream of having an ongoing Seed Lending Library!!  It feels so good to make these things happen and add so much value to people through home, school and community gardens in our neighborhood!

The seed library will be free, open to all, and does not require a membership. We are thankful for generous donations of seeds over this past year from Territorial Seed Co., Baker Creek Seeds, Winter Sown Seeds, West Seattle Nursery and all the people who attended the seed swap and donated from their own seed stashes! With the money we collected at the seed swap we were able to buy containers for the seeds, and will have literature available on how to use the seed library, save your own seeds and more!  This fall we'll have a Seed Homecoming to restock the seed library with all the localized seeds saved from our seed library patrons!

Seed packets can be "checked out" at the beginning of the growing season, and gardeners will leave some of their plants to go to seed, then harvest and "check in" seeds at the end of the season. Easy peasy.

Our library will be one location in the ever-growing King County Seed Lending Library system...all homegrown startups throughout our city and surrounding areas, coming together to make big things happen for our neighborhoods!  Come check it out!

Cover photo credit

Seattle Farm School welcomes Vivian Mizuta to our teaching team!

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We are thrilled to have Vivian join our teaching team as an expert yarn spinning instructor!  Here's a little about Vivian: My husband and I retired to West Seattle just over a year ago, to half-time babysit our newborn granddaughter. We had lived for 38 years in the Skagit Valley, the last 25 on a Fir Island farm amid snow geese and eagles. After a brief career in occupational therapy, I chose to raise our 2 kids rurally and continue my (now 50 year) handweaving life at home. I taught weaving for years in Anacortes and after 30 years of spinning, have taught that too. Whether you are a retired knitter or an overly busy tech worker, you will find that spinning yarn is the most calming, hands-on and productive activity you could learn...and it's as simple as riding a bike. I've got several accumulated spinning wheels for you to use while you learn, so why not give it a try?

Join Vivian at the next yarn spinning class starting this Wednesday! Sign up here and make your very own skeins of yarn!

dyed yarn
dyed yarn

Online Farmers Market? Yes please!

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UPDATE (Fall, 2016): Farmigo is no longer running this program and has decided to focus on the CSA software side of their business. Our experience was great and we had the largest Farmigo dropoff site in Seattle while it was running.  Hopefully a similar program will fill the gap someday!


I visited the Farmigo warehouse here in West Seattle this week to learn about their company and was blown away. These sweet people work diligently every day to bring local farmers produce, meat, dairy, grains and products to our community. The farmers receive at least $0.60 on the $1.00 compared with grocery industry standard of $0.30-.35, there is no minimum order requirements or shipping fees, they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a zero waste policy. Their warehouse was empty, clean and friendly - every week people from the area place orders for products featured on the Farmigo website, the orders are sent to the farmers on Monday mornings and on Wednesday there is a flurry of activity when all the products the farms bring in are repacked in individual bags per customer. Then the orders are delivered to local drop off sites for people to pick up that afternoon! The few boxes of overage (extras that farmers bring to ensure the highest products are delivered to customers every week), gets delivered to West Seattle Food Bank and the warehouse is spotlessly empty once again.

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farmigo warehouse
farmigo warehouse

So efficient! They cut out all the middle costs that take away profit from farmers when their products are sold to major grocery chains and give it right back to them...protecting the local food economy and supply chain.

Want to switch some of your buying power to local farms?  Create an account here: https://www.farmigo.com/market/seattlefarmschool-seattle

You get 20% off your first order when you use the promo code LOCAL20, there are no minimum ordering requirements or shipping fees and even if you switch over buying just one or two things through Farmigo instead of the store you will be making an impact. Local pickup happens every Wednesday afternoon here in the Alaska Junction/Genesee Hill area. All those little raindrops add up to a full bucket when we come together as a community and decide to buy from our farmers!

Here is a great article in the Smithsonian about Farmigo: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/taking-farmers-market-online-180957606/?no-ist

The Great Seattle Seed Swap

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We are excited to host our 2nd annual seed swap at the West Seattle Library this year!  Please register so we have a ballpark number of attendees. (thank you!!)

The Great Seattle Seed Swap, West Seattle 

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2-3:30 p.m.

Seattle Public Library, West Seattle Branch, 2306 42nd Ave SW, Seattle.

Please bring seeds if you have them. They can be homegrown or store-bought -- even partially used packets. Attendees aren’t required to bring seeds to take them, but are asked to limit what they take in order for all to enjoy the swap.

Workshops will offer further education on saving and cleaning seeds.

We are partnering with King County Seed Lending Library, and creating a city-wide network of seed swaps that will truly be great! Details for these other locations are on the King County Seed Lending Library website.

The Great Seattle Seed Swap, NW -- Saturday, Jan. 30, 1:30-4 p.m., Community Room, Brick Building, Phinney Neighborhood Association, 6532 Phinney Ave N,Seattle.

The Great Seattle Seed Swap, NE -- Saturday, Feb. 6, details TBA.

Snoqualmie Valley Seed Exchange -- Saturday, Feb. 6, Cedarcrest High School, Duvall, details TBA.

 

Cover photo: Pinterest

 

Active Shooter Basic Response Course - free training.

It may seem like we're coming out of left field after a few months of knitting, jam making and gardening classes, but emergency preparedness is a major topic here at Seattle Farm School. It’s an awful fact of life that the world we live in experiences active shooter situations somewhere on almost a daily basis. This is an emotional deal folks, and I get it. As a mom of school aged children it freaks me out. We want to ensure that as many people are trained as possible to recognize early warning signs and can help prevent these tragedies. And if we ever end up caught in the middle of one, that we have the skills and knowledge to know what to do.

This is especially important if you are an educator, in charge of safety and emergencies for your department or company, or fearful of these situations and want to relieve some of the worry you have through educating yourself.

We hope you will join us at this very important training course.  Tickets are free, but you must register for a spot.

Course information:

The Active Shooter, Basic Response Course offered by Alexo Corp. is a 90 minute introductory course. This course includes 70-75 minutes of presentation time and 15-20 minutes for questions and answers. This course focuses primarily on three strategies for the mitigation of these events. Those strategies are PREVENTION, PREPARATION, and REACTION. Prevention strategies include policy, identification, and internal work groups. Preparation strategies focus less on the individual and more on what steps organizations can take to protect their employees and minimize the risk of this type of event. Reaction strategies examine individual responses during an event and what to expect from first responders.

We are fortunate to be teaming up with lead instructors that have a total combined 50+ years in local level law enforcement with over 20 + years assigned to a full time tactical team. They have personally responded to multiple active shooter events, presented at both a local and national level on the topic, and been primarily responsible for aiding in the development of the “best practice” response to these type of events.

Adults only please.

Sign up for a free ticket here: Active Shooter Basic Response Course

2015 Annual Report

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Happy New Year Farm School Family!       Thank you for being so invested in the success of Seattle Farm School this first year! I’m deeply grateful to be surrounded by a talented, crafty, passionate group of people who love sharing their gifts with the community! I truly believe we are making an impact not only in Seattle but throughout our region!

I want to share with you our first Annual Report - even though we are a for-profit company I believe it is essential to our character to be transparent about the activities and money flowing in and out of our business. And I’m just so dang proud of what we’ve accomplished this year!

We are committed to growing and strengthening our community by teaching classes on urban homesteading skills, emergency preparedness, and annual activities that are community wide like the free seed swap, urban farm tour and one day we will host a Farm Fest bringing local farmers, musicians, crafters and makers together for a fun gathering here in the city.

Here's the breakdown of activity since our “doors” opened November 1, 2014 through December 31, 2015.

We have had roughly 679 people attend a Seattle Farm School event this year including:

- 35 community classes with 275 attendees, including 27 children that attended for free.

- 7 after-school elementary enrichment class series that have served 85 students at 2 elementary schools in West Seattle.

- Over 100 attendees (including at least 30 children that attended for free with their families) on the Urban Farm Tour of West Seattle organized by Seattle Farm School.

- We hosted five free events this past year with 219 attendees:

  1. Children's garden seed starting and planting parties (65 people - half were children)
  2. A community wide seed swap (55 people)
  3. A field trip to a sustainable homestead on the Olympic Peninsula (16 people)
  4. Children's fairy house building project at West Seattle's SummerFest (53 people)
  5. A Bartenders Garden class at West Seattle Nursery (30 people)

We were named the Premiere DIY Place to Learn Homesteading Skills by Seattle Met Magazine in July.

We were named one of the Best New Kid Scenes in Seattle in 2015, according to Red Tricycle!

I'm so proud of our first year!  Way to go team!!

 

Our financial breakdown from Nov 2014 - Dec 2015 is as follows:

  • Total income of $10,584.95 including sales of $10,014.95 (!!)
  • Total expenses of $9,808.03
  • And a net profit for the year of $776.92!

We owe $600.00 remaining for our web and graphic design work from 2015 that will be paid off asap in 2016.

Expense breakdown includes:

  • $5,543.89 for teacher fees & web design/graphic design fees. (I’m so excited I got to pay real money to people for doing awesome stuff this year!!  Let’s do more!!)
  • $2,052.50 for supplies for classes and events
  • $2,211.64 for office expenses, insurance, taxes and licenses, advertising and other business expenses.

The profit that we have leftover is partially going towards something I am REALLY excited about!

We are starting a nonprofit organization that will serve two purposes:

  1. Create a scholarship program for people with limited income to take our classes; and also help fund continuing education for graduating high school students who want to study urban agriculture and do work that will benefit our cities.
  2. Raise funds to purchase and build an indoor classroom, gardens and community gathering place that will serve as a permanent home for Seattle Farm School and meet the needs of our community.

We want to purchase the Dakota substation property on 50th and Dakota across from the new elementary school in West Seattle. It is a double lot with beautiful trees and a large area that will be perfect for an indoor classroom including space for sewing, crafts, and a teaching kitchen. It will also be available for other community organizations and neighbors to use for gatherings throughout the year. The property is currently valued at $530,000 and will be officially surplussed and for sale around November 2017.

Thank you for a tremendous first year, I can’t believe all we’ve been able to accomplish together these past 14 months!  I look forward to a fantastic 2016 full of more great classes, events, community building and outreach!

Lots of love to y’all,

Katie  

 

cover photo: ultiworld.com

We've been named one of the "Best Things to Hit the Seattle Kids Scene in 2015"!

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Thank you to Red Tricycle for naming Seattle Farm School as one of the best new kids scenes in Seattle! We are so honored!!  To read the full article, go here.

The Best Things to Hit the Seattle Kids Scene in 2015

Kids struck it big this past year in Seattle. Innovative companies opened, new playgrounds sprouted up, trendy hangouts moved into town and new indoor play spaces took tots by storm. Here are our picks for the 15 best things to arrive on the Seattle kiddie scene in 2015.

 

1 of 13

Seattle Farm School

With the opening of the Seattle Farm School, families kicked their urban homesteading skills up a notch in 2015. At this domestic arts mecca, parents and kiddos learn crafty skills side-by-side (or on their own) in classes like canning, soap making and crocheting (to name a few). It’s an old-school new school that’s definitely cause for celebration.

Seattle Farm School Various locations in West Seattle 206-218-4948 Online: seattlefarmschool.com

photo: Allison Sutcliffe

 

What Happened to our Amber Waves of Grain?

It's our mission at Seattle Farm School to teach homesteading skills so future generations of city dwellers like ourselves have the knowledge and experience to grow, bake, create and make wholesome foods and crafts by hand. A couple that have perplexed me the past few years is baking and brewing, and more critically, what in the world is going on with wheat. There are shelves everywhere lined with gluten-free and wheat free products and most people I talk to are "off wheat". There are serious autoimmune diseases like celiac that make people very sick, and then there are those of us on wheat free or protein & veggie only diets that don't want to gain weight by simply looking at a loaf of bread. When did wheat, a food and beverage staple since forever, become so dangerous? Is there any hope for nutritious grain based products, whether bread, pastry, or pasta? For flours of all varieties to be fresh and nutrient-packed? For beer and whiskey to be made from flavorful, local grains full of flavor? Or is that a magical unicorn in this day and age? It was my goal to find that out. And what I learned was amazing - we are living in the heart of a grain revolution and I'm so excited to share all that I've learned with you.

But first, a Will Ferrell scene picture that I love from his movie Stranger With Fiction, when he brings Maggie Gyllenhaal a bouquet of "flours".

i brought you flours.:

For starters, I read the NY Times Bestselling book "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis and learned that my wheat consuming habit would most definitely give me an unhealthy life and early death. It depressed me and I couldn't finish the book. I tried his strict no-wheat, (or grains) diet for a day and a half and gave up. This couldn't be the answer.

Then I read the book Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten by Stephen Yafa. This book helped answer so many questions. The basic foundation of wheat is unchanged over the centuries, including many heritage grains being brought back to life by organizations like The Bread Lab, right here in Western Washington. What has changed is the way it is grown, and how it is processed before making it to our store shelves. The part that's making us fat, sick and unhealthy isn't the grain, it's the fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals used to grow it and the nutritious bits being taken out during the processing. Wheat milling and baking is a major industry and the nation's largest manufacturers make the most money possible through using machinery designed to strip the grain of all the outer, nutrient rich parts, creating a refined flour that has so little nutritional value it needs to have vitamins put back in it.

Before 1880, all grain was grown and milled locally in stone mills where whole grains were crushed between two large stones into flour. There were 22,500 mills throughout the country, compared to 180 today. The end product of stone milled flour included the bran, germ and endosperm crushed up together, and is one of the most nutrition packed power-houses of food in the world, while white flour is one of the least. The drawbacks of stone milling are the texture and longevity of the flour. Sometimes the grain was not all ground consistently and could make bread clumpy, and as soon as the germ was broken open, the flour had a short shelf-life before it turned rancid.

The roller mill was invented in the late 19th century and is now widely used by large-scale commercial operations to produce flour. The roller mill separates the bran, germ and endosperm. The white refined flour we all know today is made entirely of endosperm, the least nutritious part of the grain. Whole wheat flour can be a combination of the three but not necessarily in the original portions as whole grains milled by a stone mill, some have as little as 10% germ and bran added back in.

What is happening with wheat today? There is a movement towards growing and processing localized grains all across America. As consumers are questioning where and how their products get to them, and learning about the ingredients used, there is a higher demand for more nutritious wheat-based products. As a country we are moving away from Wonder Bread, finally. Farmers are rediscovering the grains that grow best in their area, the varieties that need the least amount of "help" to produce high quality grains, meaning less (or none) chemicals in the growing process. In Bellingham a grain breeder has developed a hard white spring wheat called Edison Wheat that could prove to be a perfect backyard grain for our northwestern marine climate. It is now being grown over 100 acres in Oregon at Camas Country Mills, a grain grower and gristmill operator in the Willamette Valley. Small locally owned mills are growing in number, such as the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill in Bellingham, and a new one that will be built in Skagit County and will process grains with a dual-purpose stone mill and roller mill, creating the finest whole-grain products. This marks a major shift for local farmers who are growing grains for feed to include more grains grown for human consumption. Local entrepreneurs and established farmers are working together to build this mill in our region to be able to bring great products to our community.

The Bread Lab, in Mount Vernon, WA is a cutting edge innovator in the grain world. Started by Stephen Jones in affiliation with Washington State University, The Bread Lab is an integral part of the WSU Plant Breeding Program, which studies the diversity of locally grown grains to determine those that perform well for farmers, and that are most suitable for craft baking, malting, brewing, distilling, and other culinary creations. Professional bakers and chefs analyze and test their whole grain products under the technical guidance of Bread Lab Director and wheat breeder Dr. Stephen Jones and Bread Lab resident baker Jonathan Bethony.

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This past summer, The Bread Lab started the transition from its original 600-square-foot room at the Research Center to a 12,000 square foot building at the Port of Skagit.  In addition to the expanded Bread Lab, the new quarters will house a rheological lab for testing dough qualities such as protein content, extensibility and elasticity, and mixing tolerance, a King Arthur Flour state-of-the-art baking classroom, a milling lab, a professional kitchen under the guidance of James Beard Best Chef: Northwest Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island, and a brewing and distilling micro-lab overseen by Emerson Lamb, founder, and Matt Hofmann, master distiller, of Westland Distillery, right in our backyard in SODO, and Will Kemper, co-owner of Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen. Several professional chefs have teamed up with The Bread Lab, like Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York did to develop a wheat grain (Barber Wheat) for his restaurants that tastes of apricot and has that warm & sunny wet hay aroma, and now they are growing it at Stone Barns farm too. If you haven't seen the Netflix documentary Chef's Table, featuring Dan and Blue Hill (Season 1) you've got some tv watching to do!

The Bread Lab is revolutionizing everything we know about wheat. From seed to shelf they are creating, educating and innovating the entire process, combining Old World knowledge and New World technology to make the best flours ever. The Bread Lab has grown over 40,000 varieties of wheat at their research facility in Skagit County, all to preserve and promote what is best for not only the end product but for the farmers in terms of productivity and salable output.

They are also the hub of the annual Grain Gathering, a collection of 250 serious professional and home chefs, bakers, brewers, distillers, farmers and enthusiasts who are passionate about rebuilding the local and regional grain networks. They come together every summer to bake, grill and taste the best products under the sun.

One of these enthusiasts is right in our backyard, Gerrit Kischner. He's a busy guy, the principal of one of Seattle's largest elementary schools (over 600 students), and he bakes for his family every Sunday for the week ahead. His favorite rye bread takes 3 hours in the oven! The Monday before Thanksgiving he brought in his fresh baked rye bread and currant rolls for his staff. I was fortunate enough to be handed a paper sack full of still-warm rolls and bread that morning and learn about his passion for milling and baking. He told stories of fresh bread baking in his childhood home, then learned to love great bread while working at La Boulangerie in Wallingford during high school, and baking out of necessity after college. He traveled with bags of whole wheat flour shipped to him while living and teaching in the Philippines and New Zealand. When he and his family settled down back in Seattle, he found his dream grinder, a Wolfgang Mock mill being sold on Craigslist for $150. It was "a life changer" after burning out three grinding attachments for his KitchenAid. He now grinds everything from chickpea flour to corn meal, including all the wheat, rye, oat groats and quinoa his family needs, and stores them in gallon-sized glass jars to keep fresh.

kischner rye bread
kischner rye bread

Kischner's suggestions for new bakers? Start with the No Knead Loaf from NY Times, and pick up a copy of the book Bread Alone: Bold Fresh Loaves from Your Own Hands which covers everything you need to know about baking fresh bread, including sourdough starters. Bread made using long sourdough fermentation has been proven effective in breaking down and neutralizing gluten molecules, and people with gluten sensitivities (excluding celiacs) have reported no negative effects from eating whole wheat sourdough bread made this way.*

Sourdough brings me back to the main take-away from the Grain of Truth: The Real Case For and Against Wheat and Gluten book. A whole-wheat sourdough recipe that will knock your socks off, help you lose weight and add valuable nutrition (and flavor!) into your diet. That unicorn magic is real folks! Get the book, skip the science and stories and head straight for Appendix A for the recipe and instructions. Until your neighborhood mill is open for business, buy flour like King Arthur's in the regular grocery store, or grind your own from grains available on Azure Standard, regional GMO-free grains like these on Amazon, or directly from mills in your area. Check out the list of resources and recipes on The Bread Labs' site for starters.

Let's continue the push for farmland protection, localized grains and mills so one day, in the not-too-distant-future, we'll be referring to grains by their terroir and locality, just like we do for wine and craft beer today, all while drinking a locally grown malted brew of course!

*Grain of Truth. pg 18.

**Thank you to Adam Foy of Acme Valley Foods in Bellingham; Kevin Morse, Skagit Valley farmer and farmland steward; and Gerrit Kischner, Seattle Schools Principal for your contributions to this article. I appreciate all you are doing for your communities - keep pushing on!

Meet Your Farmers: Collins Family Orchard!

Every week this summer we got to open a box of beautiful, luscious, out-of-this-world fruit like this from Collins Family Orchard. It was the finest flavored and perfectly textured fruit we have ever had in our lives. We discovered varieties of apples, peaches, cherries, pears and plums that we'd never before tasted and found more than a few new favorites!  My 3 year old son ate almost our entire box on his own each week! A mission of mine with Seattle Farm School is to connect local farmers like Collins with our neighborhoods in the city - so you get to know the people, the history, the dedication and conscious decisions that our farmers make every day to produce the best tasting and healthiest food for all of us. To share their stories with urban residents who might otherwise not know the amount of effort it takes to do what they do, to show up with tables full of gorgeous fruit every week at farmers markets and deliver them via CSA box throughout the growing season.

It's only fitting that our first Meet Your Farmer profile is dedicated to the farmers who fed my family all summer long - the Collins Family!  Seattle Farm School will have a CSA pickup location in place this spring for all our local farms to deliver to West Seattle.  Stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!

 

IMG_0911[1]Collins Family OrchardCollins Family Orchard is a fourth generation family farm located in Selah, WA, a few miles north of Yakima. We've been growing and perfecting our fruit for over 100 years producing different varieties of apples, cherries, peaches, plums, pears, and apricots, to name a few. We love to experiment with new varieties and hybrids and our focus is on finding the best varieties of fruit that grow well in our climate and taste delicious. We pride ourselves in using sustainable practices to ensure our fruit is healthy for both our customers and our environment.

We prune our trees and thin the fruit set extensively; our goal is quality, not quantity. We are continuously in search of more perfect fruit, and we test many new varieties each year by grafting and planting new fruits in an experimental block in the orchard. To earn their keep, new fruit must grow well our climate and taste great. We're eager to bring our fruit to market, but we don't rush to pick it. Fruit should not come off the tree until it is good and ready, at the peak of flavor. We use organic fertilizers, seaweed and fish oil. For pest control, we use organic Intrust, which works by mating disruption.

We sell our fruit at over 20 farmer's markets in the Seattle area, to many gourmet restaurants, and of course to our wonderful CSA (community supported agriculture) members! Please stop by say hi at any of our farmers markets including the West Seattle, Broadway, and Ballard Farmers Market every Sunday from 10am-3pm or check us out online at www.collinsfamilyorchards.com. Our CSA home delivery season starts mid-June and runs through mid-October. We look forward to providing you with the freshest and tastiest fruit all summer long!

Summer and Fall CSA Program

Our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs is a great way for you to save money while directly supporting local farmers! As an orchard, we provide a fruit only CSA with a large variety of different types of fruit that grow locally here in Washington including apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, apriums, pluots, and pears. Our Summer CSA starts in mid-June and runs until mid to late October, usually for 19 weeks. The fruit in your CSA box will change each week based on what is the most fresh and in season. We also offer a shorter extension of our CSA called the Fall CSA which runs from early November through mid-December. The Fall CSA includes different varieties of apples and pears. Both our Fall CSA and Summer CSA can be home delivered or you can choose to pick up at a neighborhood pick-up site or farmers market and have your delivery fee waived. Our CSA comes in three sizes: Small (6 lbs, feeds 1-2 people,) medium (10 lbs, feeds 2-3 people,) and large (15 lbs, feeds 3-5 people.) During our Summer CSA you can choose either a weekly or biweekly pick-up option while in the Summer we offer weekly pick-ups only. All the fruit in our CSA is grown sustainably at our farm in Selah, WA.

To find out more about our CSA check out our website or sign up for our email newsletter to hear when sign-ups begin for our Summer 2016 season!

Everything You Need to Know About Fencing Your Chickens 

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As a chicken mama who lost a few hens before I got the predator-proofing down, this is great information for new coop owners/builders to make sure you keep your lovely ladies safe and sound from rascally rascals! Thank you to my new friend Liz Greene for writing this post!  ~Katie Stemp Image

While fencing your chickens may seem like a no-brainer, there are some surprising intricacies at play when choosing the best material and set-up for the job. Playing catch-the-runaway-hen isn’t much fun, keeping the flock out of your garden is even less so, but finding one of your prized birds torn to shreds is absolutely heartbreaking. Ultimately, the most important aspect of fencing isn’t keeping your birds in — it’s keeping the predators out.

The Run

The majority of chicken keepers choose hardware cloth — also known as wire mesh — as their fencing material of choice. Easily shaped and sturdy, half inch hardware cloth provides excellent protection for chicken runs, as it deters predators of all sizes. Hardware cloth with smaller openings (quarter inch size) can be used to cover openings on the coop, such as the windows or vents. Not only will this keep mice from nesting with your chickens, it also provides a secondary line of defense should the run be breached at night.

Although it’s cheap and prevalent, chicken wire should be avoided at all costs. While this lightweight wire does an excellent job of keeping chickens contained, predators find it to be no challenge at all. Raccoons in particular are infamous for deftly unwinding the wire until they can get in — or in cases where they become impatient, simply reaching through the octagonal openings and tearing apart the chickens piece by piece.

When building the walls of the run,  it's best to bury the wire mesh down into the ground and out away from the wall at a 90 degree bend. Place bricks, gravel, or other stone fill over the turned out wire before covering it back over with soil. This will deter any digging predators from accessing the run. Furthermore, chicken runs should always have a roof, whether it be made of corrugated metal or more wire mesh. Netting will keep hawks and other birds of prey out, but it’s no deterrent to raccoons.

Last, but certainly not least, is the gate lock. Raccoons are quite capable of unlatching locks and turning door handles. Install a lock that requires multiple steps to unlatch — such as a spring and barrel-style lock — and secure it with a carabiner. This will prevent raccoons from simply letting themselves into the run.

Added Protection

You’ll find that some predators will be relentlessly determined to get to your chickens. After all, you’ve practically set up a buffet for them — they just need to figure out how to get around the sneeze guard. The best way to deter the more tenacious predators is to add some electric fencing to your run. Simply attach a ground wire four to six inches from the bottom of your current fence, and another wire along the top to deter climbing predators. Experts recommend a 5,000 volt charger to simultaneously keep chickens in and predators out.

Perimeter Fencing 

If at all possible, your run should never be your first line of defense. If you can afford it, build a six foot privacy fence around your property as a way to stop some predators before they ever make it to the run. If privacy fencing is too pricey, go for more welded wire. The more barriers there are to get through, the less likely you are to lose a chicken.

While constructing and maintaining fences isn’t the most exciting of prospects, it’s much preferred to suffering the death of your flock. When you’ve put so much time and love into those amazing, clucking balls of fluff, the last thing you want to do is sacrifice them to a wily raccoon.

Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.

Top 10 FUN ways to prep for emergencies with kids!

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Prepping for emergencies with kids can be a scary idea but it's important to do, so let's make it fun! As a parent, it's a fine line between helping our kids be aware of their surroundings and know what to do in an emergency, and scaring the bejeezus out of them. I don't want them to fear the world and lose sight of all the beauty that is out there, but I do want them to know how to act in an emergency and that means talking about it, practicing skills and preparing together.

Preparation doesn't need to be dreary and serious. You can make it an adventure, and it's much better to learn while having a good time and still build the skills you'll need when it's not fun anymore.

Here are my top 10 ways to make Prepping with kids fun:

  1. Plan a camping trip with friends to practice living without power. Even if it's in your backyard - cook on a BBQ or test out your camp stoves, play games or cards with the kids, filter water a couple different ways and make sure to bring some treats for a job well done! You can find a lot of the equipment you will need in our Amazon store or any REI Co-op.

  2. Create a scavenger hunt to get to know your neighbors. Better yet, have a block party to get to know one another! Who has special skills like first aid? Who is good with tools and construction? Who has a generator? Who needs special care? Get contact information for your neighbors, create a phone/email tree and give it out to everyone. If you live here in Seattle, sign up with SNAP (Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare) and they'll send you great info including bright green signs to hang on your door that say HELP or OK on each side. Easy communication within the neighborhood! (sign available here: http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Emergency/Preparedness/SNAP/GettingOrganized/SNAPHelpOKsign.pdfSNAP Logo
  3. Host the Emergency Olympics and have kids earn medals for completing each event. Gather a few families and do it together! Ideas for events include: Practicing earthquake safe spots (in bed - cover head. Get below, between or besides something taller (couch/chair/table), Climbing safely out of the window and down an emergency ladder, calling your out-of-state contact person, bandage a fake wound, start a stove and cook a meal, and any other plans you want to practice. Print your own award badges like these:

  4. Become amateur cartographers. Choose a special place in your neighborhood or community you can meet in the event your home is not safe. Have your kids draw a map and add landmarks along the way.                                
  5. Go for a hike right from your front door. Put on your supply clothes and shoes, your "Bug Out Bag" backpacks with food and water, set a destination (like your community meeting spot) and head out. Perhaps you will follow your map from Step 4. It's not only fun but gives you the opportunity to test the shoes, clothes and supplies you have packed. The best part about hiking in the city is the ability to "happen upon" a great brewery or restaurant with a beautiful view along the way! 
  6. Make a shelter and hangout in your backyard using only tarps and ropes. 
  7. Road trip! Using only paper maps (just for the heck of it pretend cell networks are down and GPS doesn't work) - plan and drive to your out-of-the-area location for a daytrip or overnight. Note the accessibility issues that could come up - bridges being out, trees downed, mudslides, flooding that could potentially be a roadblock during a disaster.  
  8. Become HAM radio operators as a family, study together, practice and test out the lengths your radios can go (i.e. while a parent is at work, or a child is at a friends house). Find a local amateur radio club in your neighborhood and get connected, learn the skills and become certified operators!

  9. Make a rope board together. Learn to make essential knots, fancy knots and decorative knots and display your handiwork! 
  10. Last but not least, collect trinkets, nature items, notes and pictures along all your adventures and make a scrapbook together. I promise, it will be a treasure for your family and will help create a new tradition and legacy of passing on important survival and life skills in a fun way to future generations! 

Have fun out there!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies You'll Ever Eat!

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This is no joke people, these cookies are unreal - so easy to make and I've never had a bad batch come out of the oven. I've spent years trying to create the best chocolate chip cookie recipe and finally found this one from King Arthur Flour, tweaked it a bit for our family's preferences and voila, instant perfection! Here you go!

 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Mix together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy:

2 sticks (16 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup regular sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla

Then add:

2 cups all-purpose flour - I always use King Arthur flour and it always delivers great results and flavor.

1 cup oats - old fashioned or instant. I use old-fashioned, blended up in our Vitamix so it's like an oat flour.

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt - make sure it's kosher and not table salt - you'll want the bigger flakes of salt, it's what makes these cookies great!

When everything is mixed together add:

3 cups chocolate chips - I usually have the gigantic Costco bag of Nestle chips on hand and they work great. Substitute in gourmet chips or chop up a big Trader Joe's 1 lb chocolate bar for extra fanciness.

Bake at 325 for 13 minutes.

 

Baking note: I always bake cookies on a baking stone for the evenness in cooking so the timing is what creates perfect cookies in my oven. Pull them when the center is still a little jiggly but the outer edges are firm and just turning golden brown - leave on the stone or pan and they'll finish cooking while they cool. They are the perfect combination of crispy, buttery edges and soft, melty middle. My personal favorite baking stone is made by Pampered Chef but any good quality, thick stone will do. Sur La Table, Williams & Sonoma, etc. etc. Mmmm...  Enjoy!

Storage note: They are best when fresh so bake as many as you'll eat within a day. Keep the remainder of the dough in the fridge for later use, or make logs of cookie dough for your freezer by rolling dough in wax paper, twisting closed the ends and putting them in a ziploc freezer bag. It's easy to bake up a batch of cookies for a party, guests or after-school treat!

 

*This post is not sponsored by, nor did I receive any type of compensation from, King Arthur Flour, Pampered Chef, Trader Joes, Costco, Sur la Table or Williams & Sonoma.*

Homemade Memory Jar

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Last weekend we attended a wedding for two of the nicest people who have been together off an on since middle school, and I wanted to create something special and homemade for them. I made this memory jar and added a ready-to-go note taking kit. Start with a large glass jar that has a lid (there are great ones at IKEA are only $3-4), tape off an area with painters tape and paint a label area onto the jar.

Using paint and paintbrush or paint markers, decorate the label with whatever message you want to share.

Wrap the top with twine, raffia, ribbon or yarn.

Add moss and some cool rocks or shells to the bottom - secure with a hot glue gun.

memory jar

For the note kit I used this paper pencil holder from Target ($4), then cut up cute scrapbook paper into small squares. Add a sharpie, some pretty yarn or ribbon around the top and stamp with a message. This stamp was in the $1 dollar section at Target too.

Super cute, pretty enough for a display area and ready to use!

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Closet Hack!

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over the door closet organizer for hats gloves and scarvesIn our house we have teeny tiny closets and the one that stores all our coats, gloves, hats, etc. was stuffed and completely crazy. All 4 of us use it and inevitably need to find something on our rush out the door to work and school. The cold, rainy season has started and our gear was in a bag on the floor, crammed under a pile of jackets and not helpful at all. I usually end up dumping the whole thing out on the ground, find what we need and run out the door. Not anymore! I'm super proud of my idea I implemented this weekend to organize this closet with a simple over the door shoe organizer! I went to Target to find one but they only had a canvas version for $18. That didn't work because we need to see what we are trying to find. While I was standing in their closet organizer aisle I ordered a clear pocket one from Amazon for only $8.48 with free 2-day Prime shipping and it arrived on yesterday (Sunday delivery!).  Here's what the closet looks like now...organized by person - mom and dad's stuff on top, kids stuff down below. All our hats, gloves and scarves are so easy to find AND put away. No more digging through a grocery sack on the bottom of the closet floor and now there's room for our rain boots too instead of them cluttering up the doorway! It even fits baseball caps without scrunching up the brim! YAY!  If you're struggling to get all these small things wrangled at your house I hope this idea helps you too!

Link to buy the clear pocket over the door organizer: Whitmor 6044-13-CTF White Crystal Collection Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer, Clear

*When you purchase any products through links on my site, Amazon gives me credit for the referral that I use to purchase supplies for our classes. Thank you for supporting my business and community projects with your purchases!*

Photo Source.

Happy 1st Anniversary Farm School Family!

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We opened our "virtual" doors for business one year ago today! In our first year we have served over 500 people through our classes and events including after-school classes, spring seed swap, Urban Farm Tour, summer field trips and skill-based classes for the whole community!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support and encouragement you have given to us this past year! A very special thank you to the following people and organizations who have played a part in helping me learn everything about running a business from the ground up. It's been a full 12 months and you have each taught me something unique that has shaped Seattle Farm School this year. I couldn't have done this without you!

We have accomplished so much in our first year and I'm super excited for 2016! You all are quite the team!!

  • Dustin, Bella and Jonny for everything! I love you three so much!
  • Our families for your constant support and encouragement
  • Candace Winkler: website and graphics, business mentorship, marketing and pre-dawn cross-country weekly meetings and friendship
  • Teachers: Krista Staudacher, Kelli Thomas, Kellie Phelan, Jeremy Puma, Matt Bentley, Pam Poulsen Linxweiler, Hayla Thompson, Cyndi O'Brien, Missy Anderson, Taffeta Vee, Holly Briscoe, Kimberley Leeper, Jackie Cramer, Fawn Coussens
  • Idea & event development and support: Kristen Corning, Phoebe Ingraham, Christine Estep, Sarah Heitman, Janelle Doig, Krista Staudacher, Jen Schill, Gerrit Kischner, Jen Girou, Kristin Dickerson
  • Artwork: JoEllen Wang
  • Marketing & Social Media support: Gabe Hargis & Print NW, West Seattle Blog, Sustainable West Seattle, Allison Sutcliffe & Red Tricycle Seattle, Mary Englin & Macaroni Kids West Seattle, Seattle Met Magazine, Jenn Dowell, Katie Kadwell, Kathy Henderson, Marie Santo, Saundra Hinsley, Emily Ramirez & Hold Me Don't Hold Me parenting blog, Angela Strand & NWHealthyMamas.com, Kelli Henderson & Zippy Dogs, Janelle Maiocco & Barn2Door, Sheryl Wiser & Cascade Harvest Coalition, Verity Credit Union, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, Seattle Bloggers Unite, Seattle Farm Co-op, Portage Bay Grange
  • Networking & Encouragement: Karen Kasameyer, Jeri & Amy Andrews, Reuben Butler, Ross Chapin, Ranette Iding, Pamela Hinckley, Andrea Laughery, Seattle Tilth Garden Educators Group
  • Business development guidance and ideas: Pinchot University crew - Mike Skinner, Kerrie Carbary, Christine Cole, Jeff Crowl, Julie Chan; Johnnie Green, Martita Green, Luni Libes
  • Seed library & urban farm projects: Territorial Seed Company, Seed Savers Exchange, West Seattle Nursery, Sam at Raintree Nursery, Krista Staudacher, Jason Randolph at Sound Advertising Group, Caitlin Moore, Bill Thorness & King County Seed Lending Library
  • Policies and Practices: Mike Hemker, Sarah Valpone, Shawn McClain & PHE Insurance team, West Seattle Fabric Company
  • Classroom space: C&P Coffee, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, West Seattle Art Nest, Hiawatha Community Center, Saundra Hinsley, Matt Bentley & Kellie Phelan, Krista Staudacher, Holly Briscoe, Three Little Birds
  • Class and Event support and hosting: West Seattle Nursery, West Seattle Be Prepared, Department of Neighborhoods - P-Patches (Barton, Highpoint & Westcrest), West Seattle Bee Garden, The Little Red Hen Project, Urban Flex Farms, Seattle Childrens Museum, Nancy Slote & West Seattle Library, West Seattle Eagles, West Seattle Tool Library, Community Orchard of West Seattle, Whitney Murphy, Ray & Phoebe Ingraham, Wendy Neary, Buried Treasure Urban Farm, Teri Schroeder, Pathfinders K-8: Tasha Mosher, Tara Migliore-Potter, Paul Gautschi homestead, Seattle Science Center IMAX
  • Childrens Garden: Jennifer Babuca & St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church
  • Dakota Grange ideas and support: JoEllen Wang, Klara Pecak, Genesee-Schmitz Neighborhood Council - Mary Fleck, Elaine Ike, Janet Jones, Bob Yeasting, Kerrie Schurr, Melissa Pemberton, West Seattle neighbors and parents that I've talked to
  • Policy makers & Politicians working on furthering urban agriculture in Seattle: the teams of Dow Constantine & the King County Local Food Initiative, Tom Rasmussen, Nick Licata, Green Spaces Coalition
  • Community support: Emily Seltzer Williams & Fit4Mom West Seattle, Jackie Clough & Alki Party Treasures, West Seattle Urban Farmers Facebook group, Sustainable West Seattle, Schmitz Park families, Delridge Grocery Co-op
  • And to all the kids, teens and adults that have joined us at a class or an event this year - THANK YOU!!!  This wouldn't happen without you!

I really hope I didn't miss anyone!  Cheers to you all and a BIG OLE HUG from me to you!

~Katie Stemp

 

Cupcake photo source.

Our first Emergency Prep class was awesome!

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What a great crew we have! Last night's class was all about the types of disasters we face here in the Seattle area, what the effects are and how to communicate immediately afterwards. Great questions, input and prizes!  Pam Poulsen Linxweiler is an amazing teacher - so knowledgeable and practical. I'm so lucky to have her co-teaching with me! Can't wait to see you all next month! Yes...planning for a disaster CAN be fun!

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Our favorite books, tools and supplies now available in our Amazon store!

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Check out our new Amazon store! We have done the research for you and provided the best rated and priced items, and almost all are qualified for Prime shipping too! These products help teach new skills, invite creativity, and make great gifts for your loved ones or your own personal knowledge!

  • Emergency supplies - pre-assembled kits and a la carte items to help you survive a disaster. Stock up!
  • Food preservation - canning, dehydrating, homebrew, yogurts, fermentation, cheesemaking and more!
  • Gardening books & tools - some of my favorite inspiring authors, garden designers and skills for urban farming.
  • Sewing, crochet, knitting, felting and other needle crafts - tools, books, and supplies to help you create beautiful and functional projects.
  • Kid projects - A fun way to inspire creativity with your little ones with lots of hands on crafts, science, nature and cooking projects.

Thank you for shopping through our Seattle Farm School store - we get to keep a small percentage for referring you there and the money goes towards providing even more great classes and events for the community! Someday we will have a scholarship fund for high school students pursuing urban agriculture fields of study and this paves the way to do that!

SHOP OUR STORE HERE