Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Chance for Local Produce!

Well, not the last chance ever - but the last chance in 2009!  Today is the last Bayview Farmer's Market Holiday Fair and Willowood Farm is bringing the green! We dug deep (sometimes literally), for one last great farmer's market.
Surviving the recent deep freeze, was quite a range still of lovely veggies:
* Collards
* Fabulous Flat Cabbages and Lovelier Red Cabbages Too!
* Mixed Baby Kale
* Baby Spinach!
* Baby Palla Rossa Radicchios (similar to Belgian Endive)
* Carrots!
* Rutabagas (in their prime right now too - perfect size!)
* Japanese Salad Turnips
* Kohlrabi
* Jerusalem Artichokes (aka Sunchokes)
From the storage cellar we will be bringing:
* Potatoes! Potatoes! Potatoes!  Several kinds, including fingerlings.
* Garlic!
* Winter Squash
* Dry Beans
We are also hoping for a early morning delivery from our neighbors Prairie Bottom Farms with leeks, beets and (we hear rumors...) maybe even some Rockwell Beans!
On top of all that fabulous fresh food, Willowood Farm is also featuring a number of great Holiday Food Gift Ideas including -
* Garlic Braids, Garlic Sampler Bags (4 kinds of different roasting garlics), Garlic Lovers Gourmet Box, Garlic Flakes
* Bagged dry beans and Rockwell Bean seed packages
* The Willowood Farm "Harvest Feast" box.  A perfect local food holiday gift!

So we hope to see you today!  If you've never been there, the market is located at the Bayview Hall behind Bayview Farm and Garden.  And yes, it is indoors!

And on a final note, I wanted to include a link on a GREAT blog posting from "locovore" Vincent Nattress.  Vincent's blog, Puget Sound Bites, has become one of my favorites.  Check it out!

As always, THANK YOU! for your support of local food
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Come get your local food economy!

I was forwarded a link to this article recently and I wanted to share it.

Can local food jump-start the economy?

Basically, this article says that yep, sure enough, local FOOD businesses in particular are a great way to stimulate a vibrant, locally based community. Well...NO KIDDING!
I always tell people, when they ask me, why in the heck I'm crazy enough to think I can make a living selling food???...The thing is, everybody has to eat! I worked for 10 years in the gift industry selling "stuff." Nice stuff, stuff that provided jobs for very needy folks overseas (not to mention a core of folks on Whidbey Island as well...), but in the end it was just "stuff." Nothing that anybody HAD TO HAVE to actually survive the day.
Food on the other hand, well again, we all gotta eat! This is why is seems so strange to me that we, as a society, have so undermined the value of what farmers do. As the saying goes - No Farmers No Food. It's a pretty simple equation.
For me, as a small farmer, with products that sometimes are on par with but are oftentimes much more expensive than the current equivalent at the grocery store, I understand that for many folks eating an entirely local or organic just isn't in the budget. That's okay! I don't need everybody on Whidbey Island to adopt the 100 mile diet and storm my fields! The weekly $5, $10, $20 purchases. Even the monthly $5, $10, $20 purchases are what keep my small local business stimulated! And hopefully, provide you with something that you can not only feel good about buying - but enjoy eating too!
So now, off my soapbox and on to the important info I know you are all looking for. WHERE AND HOW to buy all this great local food, especially in December in the middle of a deep freeze???
At the Bayview Farmers Market Holiday Fair! Today! Saturday, Dec. 12th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bayview Hall.
While I must admit, the selection of green stuff at market today has been, unfortunately, nixayed by the current hold Jack Frost has on my fields (cabbage popsicles anyone?), I will have a selection of stored and cold-tolerant veggies to bring home for dinner tonite. Plus a wealth of great local food gift items to share for the holidays. So coming to market today -
- Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes! Still have several selections....
- Jerusalem Artichokes - greatly cold tolerant! We will have a small basket dug out of frozen solid ground!
- A few rutagabags as well! Again, greatly cold tolerant. Now if the ground would unfreeze we might actually be able to get more. (We had to give up when we broke the shovel!).
- Winter squash. Stored inside!
- Dry beans.
- Gourmet garlic!
On the holiday gift list...We will have:
- Dried garlic flakes, gourmet garlic gift boxes, garlic braids, garlic roaster bags, Rockwell Bean seed packs and the ultimate Willowood Farm "Holiday Feast" gift box featuring a mix of straight from the farm goodies all packaged in an attractive, reusuable, wood slate box.

So we hope to see you out at market today!

Thanks for all your support of local food.
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, December 4, 2009

Busy elves at Willowood Farm...

The worker elves have been busy, busy, busy at Willowood Farm this week!
Busy putting together lots of great local food gift ideas just in time for the holidays. (Unlike Santa's workshop, however, which consists of mistletoe and smells of Christmas wreaths and hot chocolate the Willowood Farm workshop consists of strawbales and smells of garlic and apple cider. But otherwise, you'd never know the difference - really...).
Here's the list of local food gift ideas, straight from the farm, we will be bringing tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 5) to the Bayview Farmer's Market Holiday Fair at the Bayview Hall, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., along with a nice selection of frost-kissed local greens and other veggie goodies (think chard, collards, mustards, spinach, arugula, winter squash, etc...).

Willowood Farm Local Food Holiday Gifts
“Gifts from the heart of Ebey’s Reserve…”
All gift orders are first-come, first-serve until I’m out!


Roasting Garlic Sampler Bag

- Prepackaged net bags of 4 DIFFERENT kinds of jumbo size roasting garlic. Each garlic is marked with name variety. Comes with information sheet explaining each different variety, instructions on how to roast garlic and information on the differences of gourmet garlic vs. that boring nasty stuff you find at the grocery store! This is great for a garlic lover or great to bring as a dish to a Xmas party. Simply roast the garlic, add some soft spreadable cheese and crackers or bread, include the tag with the info on the garlic varieties and voila! A tasty and conversation-inspiring dish! $8.99 a bag.

Gourmet Dried Garlic Flakes

- This is a great stocking stuffer! A ½ cup worth of dried Willowood Farm gourmet garlic flakes. To use simply take a pinch of flakes, a pinch of kosher salt and mash together. Makes perfect, aromatic garlic powder everytime! Nothing like that rancid, old store-bought garlic powder. (The difference #1 – Start w/ good garlic and #2 – Only “mash” up as much as you need so it is super fresh and retains all it’s garlic goodness!). Packaged in a clear spice jar with a label and great for those “garlicaholics” who go crazy in the “downtime” of early spring waiting for the next crop…$4.99 a jar.

Garlic Lovers Gift Box

- Already wrapped and ready to go! Includes 2 jumbo size gourmet
garlic (marked with name), an informational card talking about each variety and the differences of gourmet garlic. Plus a 1/4 cup bag of dried Willowood Farm garlic flakes. Attractively packaged in a natural-hued box, tied with ribbon and a little garlic “embellishment.” Perfect gift already ready to go. $10.99 a box.

Garlic Braids

- Approximately 1 lb worth of softneck garlic. Softneck garlic is your best storage garlic and braiding them allows them to keep even longer. Kept in a most homes, not to hot not to cold, they should last 4 months or longer…Braided attractively with decorative dried flowers and an attractive ribbon. 3 kinds of garlic types (specific with one). All braids $14.99
o Inchelium Red. Washington native. Mild raw, decent baker. Good all-purpose.
o Red Toch. From Russia with HEAT! Hot, hot, hot raw! Good all-purpose.
o Nootka Rose. From San Juan Islands. Attractive rose-colored cloves. Sharp, hot flavor good for all purpose.


Dry Culinary Beans
- Peregion Bean Bag – Oregon heirloom. Gorgeous milk chocolate with dark mocha swirls plus a percentage of all dark beans. Beautiful mix. Firm, small nutty bean similar to a Black Turtle type. Perfect for side dish with wild game or go great with simply rich dishes. Bagged in 1 lb clear bag with descriptive topper including recipe. $9.99 a bag.

Heirloom Bean Seed Packs

All seed packs include 2 ounces of seed and come with growing instructions.
- Rockwell Bean Seed Pack. Coupeville heirloom! Grow these amazingly popular beans in your very own garden! 2 oz bag, comes with info on the Rockwell bean and growing instructions. Great stocking stuffer for gardeners! $3 a bag.

Willowood Farm "Harvest Feast" Gift Box
A lovely slatted, re-usable wood box filled with the following:
- Small Winter Squash (farm choice of variety)
- Roasted Garlic Sampler Bag
- Potato Bag (2 lbs of Willowood Farm gourmet potatoes)
- Peregion Culinary Bean Bag
- Spice jar of Willowood Farm Garlic Flakes
- One Rockwell Bean seed pack.
Includes informational sheet on Willowood Farm and the new Farms of Ebey’s self-guided driving brochure. A great gift for local food lovers! $54.99 a box. Preorders only and limited supply! FIRST BOXES WILL BE READY FOR DELIVERY WEEK OF DEC. 7TH or pick up at the Bayview Farmer’s Market Holiday Fair on Dec. 12th or Dec. 19th.

To pre-order any gift items for delivery or pick-up week of Dec. 7th contact Georgie at

You can also purchase many of these items directly at Bayleaf in Coupeville ( , or from Whidbey Green Goods ( on the southend of the island (and have them delivered to your doorstep!) or come to the Willowood Farm booth at the Bayview Farmer’s Market Holiday Fair (Dec. 5th, 12th and 19th) 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bayview Hall to view any of the items and purchase their directly (as long as supplies last!) or preorder for delivery the following week.

Happy Holidays and THANK YOU for your support of local Whidbey Island farmers!

Farmer (Santa Claus) Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey’s Prairie

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's...Market Time!

Yes, that's right folks! Come out and enjoy a great farmers market tomorrow on the south end of the island. The even better part - it's indoors!!!!!!!!!!
It's time for the annual Bayview Holiday Market. Just four markets, full of local produce, fresh-baked treats, flowers and fresh season decorations, hot food and great artisan crafts.
November 28, Dec 5, Dec 12 and Dec 19 at the Bayview Hall at Bayview Corner. 10 to 2 p.m.
In case you don't think it's possible to have local fresh veggies in late November, well then, I dare you to come and see! I'm bringing a truckload! On the list...
- Mesclun
- Red Bordeaux spinach (wicked sweet right now!)
- Arugula
- Melody of Mustard Green bunches
- Baby Collard Green bunches
- Rutagabagas
- Red Round Japanese Turnips
- Baby Escarole
- Pea Shoot bunches
- Steins Late Flat Dutch Cabbage (my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE or make sauerkraut, slaw, or just for about anything!)
- Mammoth Red Cabbage
- Kohlrabi
- Dry Beans
- Garlic Braids (great for Xmas gifts!)
- Loose garlic and discounted price on 1 lb garlic bags, also offering a special "baker melody" with 4 different jumbo size roasting-type garlics. Impress your friends and family!
- Potato Bags
- Winter Squash and pumpkins
...And probably something else I'm forgetting!
So we hope to see you there!
Thanks for your support.
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thankful for - Great Food!

I'm writing this with the enticing aroma of Blue Slate Roasted Turkey emanating through the house, splattered in Winter Luxury Pumpkin Pie filling, Maris Piper and Kilarney Red garlic boiling on the stove top and a bowl of Jerusalem Artichokes, brussel sprouts and pea shoots waiting to be roasted in the oven....
Boy oh boy, I'm getting HUNGRY!
I hope everyone is enjoying a relaxing and fulfilling Thanksgiving with their family. I know I am (although I wouldn't consider making pumpkin pie with a 3 and 5 year old "relaxing" but it was, fulfilling...). I would like to say I'm so Thankful to all of you, for supporting local farmers and sustainable food. And I'm thankful to my family for supporting me in this mad, mad endeavour! My father for fixing, building and always coming up with a better way. My mother for watching the girls so I can finish one more chore for the "just a few minutes" that always ends up being an hour. My husband for feeding me when I'm exhausted, taking care of the girls, and always making sure I remain grounded in what is true and important. My incredible interns (of years past and present) who always work above and beyond the call. And my two lovely little girls who are never stingy with hugs and kisses and remind me to live life to the fullest. For all my animal menagerie, even those we are eating today, that entertain me with their antics and provide me with more healthy, yummy food. For the the geologic forces that millions of years ago created the beautiful black, pond-bottom soil that I'm now blessed to grow vegetables in.
And I'm very, very, very thankful for this beautiful view that I'm blessed with every day.
Thankful for whatever forces of heaven and earth created it in the first place. Thankful that my great-grandfather 100+ years ago decided to make his roots here. Thankful that the forming of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve 31 years ago now means that this view will live into perpetuity. Thankful to be here and for here to be.
Best to all of you and your families!
Eat well!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bye Bye Willow!!!!!!

So, feeling rather nostalgic tonite. Tomorrow is not only the last main season market day of 2009 (Bayview only, sorry Coupeville!), but Willow - one of the fab three Willowood Crew this year - willing be leaving us this Sunday to pursue new adventures in farming. Wah! Wah! Wah!

Willow came to Willowood Farm via a coffee and chocolate farm in Hawaii where she had been interning (I'm still not sure why she left...Coffee? Chocolate? Hawaii?????). She was looking for a farm in western Washington to gain local experience as she hopes to start a farm soon somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
Discovering a farm named "Willowood" seemed fate. It was literally, calling her name! (Willow has suggested I get her a sweatshirt with just the word "ood" so then she could be "Willow-ood." Ha. Ha.).
But when she and I first talked, I had to be upfront about the name thing. Not only was my farm name also hers, but, um yeah, our dog's name is Willow too! And yes, we've had a fair bit of confusion on that issue. However Willow (the person), has gotten to recognize the different tone of voice I use for Willow, the dog. As in, "WWWILLLL-OOOWWW stop freaking barking! It's just a hiker/hunter/garbagedriver/UPSman/neighbor/apparently nothing???? So STUFF IT!" Usually Willow (the person), figures out I'm talking to Willow (the dog), because I tell her to stop barking. That's the big clue. Meanwhile Willow (the dog), keeps barking because she now has learned to pretend she is deaf (except apparently when discussing the possible procurement of bone-flavored treats). Willow (the person) also is very alert to possible discussion of treat procurement, her preferred, however, being chocolate flavored.
So, somehow, we worked it all out. Dogs barked, seeds were planted, cabbage was harvested...It was all good. Until now. When she is leaving. Wah-wah-wah!
But...I AM excited for Willow to get busy pursuing her dreams of starting her own farm with her mom. Not to get all sappy and what not...But young enthusiastic, energetic and SMART people like Willow are what the future of a local, sustainable, healthy food system is ALL about...
And I know Willow will be "kickin' it" and coming to visit lots (she better!), so we'll get to see her plenty. Since Willow (along with Kevin and Elizabeth), will all be at the Bayview Farmer's Market tomorrow for a "going away" market day we hope you will come stop by for a quick visit! I know Willow would love to see all the friendly faces we've met at Bayview this year. And yes, this is THE LAST Bayview Market of the main season (yet to come, the Bayview Holiay market but that starts Thanksgiving weekend). And yes, in typical "Bring the Abundance" Willowood Farm fashion, we will be coming loaded with all sorts of goodies for you to stock up to get you through the long, no market winter weeks! Here's the short (long) list...
- Gourmet potatoes loose and in 10 lb bags as discounted price for winter storage!
- Loads more garlic and still plenty of seed garlic (I plant into mid November so not too late!)
- Cabbage, cabbage, cabbage! Three kinds for all your sauerkraut fantasies!
- Lots of nice fall bunched greens. Raab, collards, mustards - all tastiest this time of year!
- Spinach and arugula bags!
- Last of the season's head lettuce (and we've had quite the year of head lettuce!)
- Brocolli side shoots - yummy!
- Gorgeous cauliflower
- Dry beans - Rockwells and several other kinds as well this week!
- Winter squash and yummy pie pumpkins!
- Decorative gourds and mini pumpkins
- Other stuff I'm forgetting!
And on a final note, since it will be Halloween and all, the Willowood Crew will be dressing up in accordance. Check out this hilarious spoof to get a clue on our costumes for the day!
Hope to see you there!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From Bean to Bean...Saga of a bean grower.

We've been looking at a lot of beans lately. And doing all sorts of interesting things to said beans to get them ready for market and sale to our loyal, bean-loving public. That said, I thought it might be interesting to go through a quick log of the "bean tasks" of the seasons as we have taken them from seed to plant to seed again! Bear with me, this is kinda long, but I think it gives a good idea of what a smaller farmer goes through to bring a crop to market (and remember this is just ONE of the 100+ crops we grow at Willowood Farm...) So here goes -
Nov. 2008. Save seed from 08 crop to plant in 2009.
Nov. 2008. Leased 3 acre field from neighbor. Need more room for beans for next year.
Nov. 2008. Cultivating in green manure (reseeded barley crop), will let field set fallow for winter for weed control
April 25 2009. First disk of new field.
May 15 2009. Second disk of new field.
May 25 2009. Planting beans! Using new tractor mounted planters - working great! Plant about 1.5 acres total!
June 1 2009. First bean plants up! Rockwell's are up first - they alway's are!
June 6 2009. Hmm...Field has germinated very patchy. Some places up great. Others not at all. Why? No rain since week before we planted. Seed that had a bit more moisture in the ground germinated, spots in the field that were a bit drier - the seed is just sitting there not doing anything! Rain predicted later this week?
June 12 2009. Still NO RAIN! Can't wait for mother nature! Sprinklers!
June 13-July 5 2009. Constant moving the sprinklers (watering 1.5 acres of beans on regular home style overhead sprinkler is a lot of sprinkler moving!).
July 10 2009. Okay, now all the beans are up. This will cause problems later however, as about 60% of the crop came up when it should, all the rest later. This means double work on weed management and we will have to harvest 2x as well. Oh well. At least they all came up!
July 12. Weed, weed, weed. Get the field done once, start again!
July 20th. Some signs of halo blight. Worse in some spots that others. Probably due to having to overhead sprinkle to get seeds up (beans don't like overhead water...). Trying to combat the problem by spraying with compost tea. Two applications of 55 gallons of spray.
Aug. 1. Weed, weed, weed again!
Sept. 1. Earliest beans are starting to get "shell bean" ready. This is when they came be shelled from pod and eaten fresh! Yummy!
Sept. 25. Rockwells and Arikara's (well, the plants that came up early), are ready to be threshed. Pull up and windrow in the field.
Oct. 1. Bring out the combine to thresh Rockwells. (SWEAR WORD INSERTED HERE!). The combine is splitting about 50% of the beans! Perhaps because they are so dry because so little rain this summer????? GRRR!!!!
Oct. 2. Bring all the Rockwells, Arikara's into barn to thresh through hammermill. Slow process, but we need beans for Farm Tour!
Oct. 3. Thresh Rockwell's through hammermill. Clean through seed cleaner. Place through second screen to remove any split ones (hammermill splits some too). Bag and tag about 50 bags of Rockwell beans! 5 people on this task, takes about 5 hours (25 hours total!).
Oct. 7. Dad's home! Can he fix the combine so no more splits...Ordered parts.????
Oct. 9. Dad think's he's fixed the combine. Nope...still splitting. Although not as bad (probably 10 to 15 percent). We decide to do some more Rockwell's because I'm sold out almost already!
Oct. 12. Bring in ALL the bean plants from the field. Wet weather predicted. Many, many trips with truckloads of beans. Thank goodness our barn is the size of multiple football fields!
Oct. 15. Dad ordered another new part. 10-15% splitting is still not acceptable! Those beans are A LOT of work!
Oct. 18. Parts in! Combine works now! No splitting! Yee-haw!
Oct. 19. Lots of wet, wet weather lately. Even inside, high humidity has soaked into pods of unthreshed beans and they are wet! How to dry this many beans?????
Oct. 20. Dad decides we should thresh anyways. Better to get beans out of wet (humid) pods than leave them in. More wet weather predicted.
Oct. 21. Brain storm! Dry wet beans in the clothes drier! Go to Wal-Mart for big laundry bags! It works. Just will take a while, a LOT of beans to put through the drier!
And now you are up to date! Hope you enjoyed the trials and tribulations of growing dry beans in the Pacific Northwest!
And if you want to buy any of these beans, we will be bringing Rockwells and Black Garbanzo bags to the Bayview Market TODAY! And don't forget today is the fun and wacky Mutt Strutt/Apple Tasting at Bayview Farmer's Market and Bayview Farm and Garden. Lots of fun fall-time activities including pumpkin painting and fun stuff! Willowood Farm will be bringing all sorts of great fall feast items including a huge selection of gorgeous heirloom pumpkins and winter squash, decorative gourds, loads of storage bags of potatoes for fall and winter, awesome garlic and still great seed garlic (not too late to plant!), head lettuce, spinach bags, arugula bags, stir-fry bunches, raab bunches, cabbage for making coleslaw and sauerkraut...And the list goes on and on!
Hope to see you at market today!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring - VEGETABLES!

It's raining, it's pouring - VEGETABLES!
So, it appears it might rain today ...(wa-ha-ha...). But we are loaded up and ready to go with a large and lovely selection of fall harvest time veggies for your enjoyment. SO...assuming it isn't a huge lake in the Bayview Farmer's Market set-up area, we will be there and we would sure love to see you!
So, haul out the raincoat and umbrella and come down and see us. I promise, you won't be any wetter than we are!
We will have the following selection at the Bayview Farmer's Market (sorry folks, Coupeville is done til next spring!).
- Prebagged mixes of mesclun, two kinds of gorgeous baby spinach, and arugula!
- Cabbages, cabbages, cabbages! 3 kinds to fulfill all your sauerkraut and coleslaw fantasies plus we will be offering a reduced price on quantity purchases AND a how-to primer on making sauerkraut! It's easy! It's cheap! It's healthy! DO IT!
- A nice selection of fall head lettuce
-1 lb bags with recipes of Rockwell Beans (our local famous bean, featured in the Pacific Northwest Magazine!)
- 1 lb bags with recipe of Back Kabuli Garbanzo beans (authentic Indian chickpea!)
- Kohlrabi (a little zest to add into your sauerkraut, coleslaw creations!)
- Gourmet garlic - food grade and a great selection still for seed garlic (it's not too late to plant, I haven't even started yet!). And beautiful garlic braids as well!
- Taters, taters, taters. Loose by the pound, 2 lbs bags and 10 lbs quantity bags for storage.
- Winter Squash and Pumpkins. A great selection of tasty, beautiful squash and pumpkins.
- Decorative gourds and ornamental corn.
- Broccoli raab bunches (Martha Stewart LOVES it!)
- Beet thinnings bunches and loose beet bottoms
More stuff I'm forgetting...

So come out and stock up! There is still LOADS OF LOCAL FOOD available, you just have to brave the weather to come get it. How brave are you????

P.S. Thanks to Thom Hall for these fabulous market photos!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Festival Time!

It's festival time! Today is the annual Coupeville Harvest Fest at the Coupeville Farmer's Market. Giant pumpkin (and other overly large veggies) contest, and a harvest relay race to raise money for the Gifts From the Heart Food Bank with silly games like udder pulling, pumpkin bowling and grape squeeze. Check out some more information here -
Willowood Farm will be there of course, and in force! We are loading up the Prairie Bottom Farm wagon to the brim with food, with the help of our friends Wilbur and Julieanna at Prairie Bottom Farm.
Afterall, this is THE Coupeville Market to stock up on the bounty and we will make sure we will be providing it. A truckload full of winter squash, another truckload full of 10 lbs storage bags of potatoes (offered at reduced pricing), ornamental gourds, mini pumpkins and ornamental corn for fall decorating, bags of Rockwell Beans and Black Kabuli Garbanzo Beans, loads of gourmet garlic including 1 lb net storage bags, a great selection of seed grade garlic for planting your own, a late planting of sweet corn...And then all the still wonderful fresh veggies - head lettuce, mesclun mix, radishes, broccoli raab, cauliflower, cabbages, chard, parsnips, summer squash, cucumbers, and more!
We also will be bringing a nice selection of all the goodies to the Bayview Farmer's Market as well, for those who don't want to make the drive north and who missed the big booth set-up last week during the farm tour! So come see Mikey at Bayview, he'll be holding down the fort there for us. And if you live Greenbank or south, don't forget to sign up for Mikey's great Whidbey Green Goods fresh local food delivery service if you haven't already! The Bayview market will be over the end of October but Mikey will keep on bringing you great, local food - including Willowood! - and deliver it straight to your doorstep!
We hope to see you out and about today. It's going to be a great harvest-time fall day (farmer's paradise, as far as I'm concerned...).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Farm Tour This Weekend!

The fabulous FREE Whidbey Island Farm Tour is this weekend and we hope to see you all at Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie!
This is the one time a year when we open up Willowood Farm to the public. It is a great way to see what is going on in the fields, check out the biggest barn on Whidbey Island, and tour one of the most beautiful farms in the Pacific Northwest!
We will be offering lots of harvest time bounty for sale including bulk quantities at discount pricing on many storage items as well as many fresh from the fields goodies:
- Potato Bags
- Dry beans
- Winter Squash, Pumkins and decorative gourds for eating and decorating!
- Garlic
- Seed Garlic for planting
- Fava Beans Seed for cover crop planting
- Big selection of cabbages for making fall kraut!
- Fresh greens including lettuce, arugula, radishes, raab, beets, sweet corn and more!
Depending on weather and equipment, we will be holding several farm demonstration activities - bean cleaning and potato digging!
And remember WE WILL NOT be at the Bayview or Coupeville markets this weekend! Michael at WGG will be "holding down the fort" at Bayview with a small selection and Wilbur and Julieanna will be taking their wagon to Coupeville with the Prairie Bottom food but if you want to stock up on the Willowood Farm bounty COME TO THE FARM!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Watch out for flying squash!

Watch out for flying squash! You think I jest? Well, just ask Kevin, Willow or Elizabeth (the farm interns) about the crazy antics of flying winter squash. How, you may ask, does winter squash fly? Well, take one farmer and some clippers, A LOT of winter squash, a relay team of interns to get the squash from the middle of field to the edge of the field and...well things get a little crazy! Those little gourds and mini pumpkins, they aren't so bad, but a 20 lbs Sweet Meat squash flying through the air????? Incoming!!!!!!!
So granted, we will have LOTS of winter squash at the markets this week. Pumpkins, squash, gourds, big ones and little ones in all shapes and colors, warts and all (seriously, we have ones with warts!). These are the beauties to grace your countertop or front porch in all their fall glory and then, you get to eat them too!
Some come on down to the Bayview and Coupeville markets and load up on squash! We will, of course, also have a nice selection of other goodies including -
* Broccoli
* Cauliflower
* Cabbage
* Kohlrabi
* Head Lettuce
* Mesclun Mix
* Onions
* Potatoes (including a few 10 lbs storage bags!)
* Garlic and Seed Garlic
* Dry Beans - Rockwells! And hopefully Black Kabuli Garbanzo beans as well!
* Summer Squash
* Corn
* Sunflower seed heads for drying for seeds for either humans or birds to enjoy!
* Rainbow Chard and lots more I'm probably forgetting...
Also coming from Michael at WGG (to the Bayview market only) - tomatoes, pears, apples, cucumbers and grapes...

On a final note (and to see if you are reading this!), next weekend (Oct. 3 & 4), is the FREE Whidbey Island Farm Tour and Willowood Farm will be open to the public on both days!
Because of the tour WE WILL NOT BE AT THE BAYVIEW MARKET ON OCT. 3RD! You can tour the fields, check out our amazingly awesome HUGE historic barn, giggle at the turkeys and pet the horses. And we will be selling LOADS of great fall-time veggies -potatoes, dry beans, garlic, winter squash, etc., etc., etc...We hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I awoke this morning to the welcome sound of raindrops! What a dry, dry summer we've had. Of course, would have been nice if it would have held off for market day but then on the other hand, I know a little bit of wet certainly won't keep away our loyal customers! (Hint, hint...).
Weather is such an amazingly important thing for a farmer, yet, we have ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL over it. This is a dilemma. In the spring, when you ponder your crops and make your decisions, a lot of your success (or lack of it), can be directly linked to the weather.
Last spring, when it just kept raining and raining and raining and everybody kept whining and whining and whining...Every where I went people were complaining about the weather. At ths coffee shop - "Will this rain ever stop? I'm so depressed..." At the post office - "I can't get outside to jog, I've put on 5 lbs?" At the grocery store - "I think my tulip bulbs are rotting! My flowerbeds look horrible." Yet, for 99 percent of the folks, the endless rain was really just an annoyance. It didn't actually affect their ability to do their job or make their paycheck.
Now, for a farmer? Unseasonal or unusual weather can literally wipe out your profit for a year. Just think of the poor tomato and potato farmers in the East Coast this year?
If your smart, you have a diverse planting scheme and so weather that affects one crop hopefully won't bother others. But still. Loads of work down the drain (sometimes literally!). I read recently where some financial evaluation of the business of farming and they were noting how there were really, a lot more inherent risks in farming then perhaps had been previously factored in. From literally day to day decisions (do I go watch the kids piano recital OR...plant the beans on what turns out to be the last day before I can't get into the fields for 3 weeks due to endless rainstorm...) to those "unknown" variables such as weather events. Yet, the funny thing is, most farmers I know (at least the ones that have been doing it for a long time) are the least likely one to complain about the weather. A few shrugs, a "well, it's been an awfully wet/dry/cold/hot (insert one) year...Yep." And you move on. Farmers are nothing, if not eternally, ridiculously optimistic!
So on that note, I'm moving on because guess what, we have LOADS of fabulous food coming to the Bayview and Coupeville markets!
From Willowood Farm
- Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!
- Garlic, garlic, garlic!
- Winter Squash
- Summer squash
- Head Lettuce
- Turnips
- Shell Beans (probably the last hurrah on those, next stop - dry beans!)
- Cabbages
- Loads of gorgeous broccoli
- Kohlrabi
- Squash blossoms (maybe, if isn't raining too hard when we try to pick this morning!)
And I'm also bringing seed garlic and bags of my own naturally grown small-seeded fava beans that are perfect for fall cover crop plantings!
And the fabulous sweet corn from our friends and neighbors Ebey Road Farm (organic certified to boot!).
From Prairie Bottom Farm
- Beet Bunches
- Dill (hasn't he had THE BEST dill...)
- Winter squash!
- Summer squash
- Spinach
- Lettuce Mix
- Cucumbers - slicing and pickling styles.
- Leeks
Also, Michael from Whidbey Green Goods should be bringing some goodies as well including tomatoes, corn, some local fruits, maybe some green beans!
So, after all this, we hope we see you at the market today! Rain OR shine!
Thank you for your support.
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Market list and potato harvest party!

Hello All!
Just a short post this morning as the roosters begin crowing which means the sun must surely be up soon and time to get busy finishing the morning madness for the market day rush....
We've been busy on the farm enjoying all this lovely late summer weather. This is the time of year for harvest while also the time of year for new plantings. To that affect, we've been working on harvesting potatoes, beginning the first steps of harvesting dry beans (pulling them up and windrowing them), and watching the daily burgeoning winter squash and the growing quinoa seed heads! Meanwhile, new crops of fall and winter greens are coming along and should soon be making an appearance - radishes, turnips, rutabagas, mustards, collards, brocolli, cauliflowers, brussel sprouts, arugula, mesclun, chard, kale...In short, pretty much insanity as usual!
As a matter of fact, if any of you would like to experience the farm insanity FIRST HAND - we will be having a Potato Harvest Volunteer Work-Party this Tuesday. We would love for you to join us if you would like to get dirty and take home a few freshly dug taters! The details:

Willowood Farm Volunteer Work Party - Let's Harvest Taters!
When - Tuesday, Sept 15. Time - 11 to 3.
What To Bring - Lots of water and a sack lunch. We'll break for lunch at 1.
Where - Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie. 399 S. Ebey Rd just outside of Coupeville.
Let Us Know - If you think you would like to come, email me at and let me know. I'll give you directions to the farm as well!

For this weekend, however, here is the list of lovely food coming to the Bayview and Coupeville markets -
From Willowood Farm
- Cabbages, cabbages, cabbages! They may be big but don't be scared - they hold forever and make FABULOUS sauerkrat and coleslaw. Great end of summer treats.
- Kohlrabi. Add them to the coleslaw!
- Potatoes....loads of potatoes!
- Garlic!
- Summer squash
- Red Kuri winter squash - our first winter squash that is ready to harvest. Nutty, rich flavor great for soups!
- Cucumbers
- Shell beans - dry beans before they are dry! A seasonal treat that we might get one more weeks picking out of before they are too dry in their pods.
- Lovely yellow cooking onions
- Parsnips
- Squash blossoms
- Organic certified yellow sweet corn from my neighbors Ebey Road Farm...

From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm -
- Semi Savoy spinach! Yum!
- Lettuce Mix
- Dill bunches
- Beets
- Carrots
- Green onions and other onions
And at the Bayview market Michael from Whidbey Green Goods will be bringing -
- Tomatoes
- Plums
- Gravenstein Apples
- Beets
- White Sweet corn
And probably many other yummy treats!

Happy Indian Summer!

Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Fall Frame of Mind

Fall really is my favorite time of year. As a farmer I love it because I start to see the fruition of many of our endeavors, and anything that didn't work out? Well, it's too late to worry about now anyways so might as well regulate that to the "will do better next year category." But I also love the colors, the temperature, even the "smell" of fall as cooler nights and rotting leaves intermingle with the enveloping warmth of a sunny fall afternoon.
And of course some of my very favorite veggies come on in the fall. Beans, the fabulous beans. Winter squash. I would grow it just for the fabulous colors and shapes. The fact that they taste great is just a big huge bonus for me! Corn - oh, so fabulous. The sweet kind and the outstandingly beautiful ornamental corn. And of course the endless amounts of garlic and potatoes. Food to feed the masses.

We are just starting to get into the fall season, and I'm anticipating a lovely one this year. Lots yet left to do and many harvests yet to complete. But to start getting everybody into the "fall frame of mind" I thought I would post a few photos taken last season by one of our interns, Tali Aiona. Thanks Tali for these awesome, harvest season photos!
And of course, we are still certainly coming to the Bayview and Coupeville Farmer's markets tomorrow. Rain or shine - we don't care what the weather report says, we'll be there! (There is no such thing as a fair weather farmer, so I expect to see all your chipper faces out there, nevermind the dire predictions of forecasters. Who are they to spoil our fun anyways!). Those that are hearty enough to brave the weather, will be well rewarded with a great selection of fabulous fall treats:
From Willowood Farm:
- Shell Beans! The ever famous Rockwells plus several others.
- Taters, 8 kinds!
- Loads of garlic.
- Summer squash, summer squash!
- And some winter squash too...
- Cabbage. Frightening large. Amazingly good.
- Kohlrabi (repeat above).
- Sweet Corn - organic certified! From our neighbors at Ebey Road Farm
- Cucumbers
- Beets
- Chard
- Sunflower, ornamental corn and other pretty "harvest color" stalks to decorate with...
- Onions, several flavors

From Prairie Bottom Farm
- Amazingly fragrant Dill (seriously, I was putting the horse away 100 yds from the packing shed and I was freaking out that my old quarterhorse had seriously eaten something weird. He smelled like a pickle! Then I realized they were bunching the dill 100 feet away. Those bunches throw a powerful pickling punch, I tell you...).
- Semi-savoy spinach
- Mixed salad greens
- Baby carrot bunches
- Scallions
- Lots more summer squash
- Beans

And for those of you coming to the Bayview market, Michael at Whidbey Green Goods is also bringing a nice selection of tomatoes, slicing cucumbers, carrots, plums, figs (I'm really excited about those! I keep trying to plant a fig tree and so far my only success has been at killing them slowly...), and more goodies!
And a final photo from Tali to get everybody hungry...
Happy eating!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dare we say...Rockwell's????????

So, I'm just SO EXCITED! Today we picked a big full lug of fresh, shell stage ROCKWELL BEANS! This is, yes, very exciting news! For those of you who don't know what all the hoopla could possibly be about, well the Rockwell Bean is a very rare, very tasty, very beautiful dry bean that town of Coupeville is very proud to call its own. For more on the fascinating history of the Rockwell Bean, check out my webpage -
Now, before you start dusting off the crockpot, the Rockwell Beans we are currently harvesting are at SHELL BEAN stage.
Most folks may be family with fresh "Cranberry" or "Borlotto" shell beans. This is a nice picture of several kinds, including Tiger Eyes (which I also sell) and some others. But really, almost any variety of bean can be used at the fresh "shell" stage, including the ever famous Rockwell (although granted, some are tasty and prettier than others!). All it means, is that the beans have picked up their form and coloring, yet they are still tender and young. If left to continue maturing on the vine, then the "shell" beans will turn into "dry" bean. But why wait another 3 to 4 weeks when we can enjoy our Rockwell Beans starting now!
At shell bean stage the beans will cook up quickly, in 10-15 minutes, so they are not suited for the long baked bean dishes that we will be enjoying in another month or so. But fresh shell beans are a treat all to themselves and if you have not tried them, well now is the time since they are only available at this stage for a two to three week harvest period. And shell beans are famous very being sweet and creamy - not starchy like a dry bean - with a "melt in your mouth" texture.
To prepare shell beans first shell them from their pods. Once shelled they can be stored for a week in a paper bag in the refrigerator (they can mold easily if not refrigerated, or kept in plastic). Also, they freeze wonderfully, simply blanch them briefly in hot water and pop them into freezer bags for a quick treat later in the season.
We will be bringing recipes to the markets, but here's a quick sampler of a recipe I threw together for a Slow Food potluck meeting in Coupeville this week.

Fresh Shell Bean and Pasta Salad
- About 2 cups of fresh shell beans, shelled from pods (approximately 1 lb of beans in pod)
- 12 oz of dried pasta, some kind of curly shape to hold vinaigrette well
- About 1/2 cup of good quality, extra virgin olive oil
- 3 big cloves of garlic, crushed and minced.
- One med, fine-flavored red onion (like Red Torpedo), or large shallot, sliced thinly.
- Fresh herbs (I used marjoram), chopped
- About tablespoon worth of red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt or fine-quality salt (I used truffle salt), to taste
- 1 cup worth of crumbly goat cheese
To make I simply gently boiled the shell beans (I used a combination of Rockwell beans and other shell beans we also will have available at market!) until tender and then drained them and set aside. Cooked the pasta according to directions, drained and put the pasta in my serving bowl. Then, while the pasta was still hot I added in the garlic, onions, salt to taste and couple tablespoons worth of olive oil and tossed together until it was all coated. Then I gently poured the beans on top of the pasta. I poured the remaining olive oil in a jar, added the red wine vinegar and whisked the two together, and tasted to make sure right balance between oil and vinegar (I didn't want it to strong the vinegar). Crumbled the goat cheese on top of the entire thing and voila - done!
In addition to Rockwell's, we also will have several other kinds of great shell beans to enjoy. As a matter of fact, we have lots of fabulous food this week and this segways quite nicely into the...Here's what we are bringing to the Coupeville and Bayview market list!
From Willowood Farm
- Shell Beans, Shell Beans, Shell Beans! We will have Rockwells, Tiger Eyes, Black Cocos and Arikara Yellows.
- Potatoes - 8 flavors this week!!!!!
- Garlic - 12 flavors this week, (I think...).
- Cabbages - gorgeous red cabbage, flat green cabbage and savoy
- HUGE kohlrabi
- Beautiful gourmet onions
- Head lettuce (not much this week, so get there early is you want some!)
- A new picking of lovely dwarf grey sugar peas
- Dragon Langerie beans
- Summer squash

Wilbur at Prairie Bottom farm forgot to email me his list, so not totally sure, but I know he has some of all the following:
- Baby Spinach
- Leeks
- Gold of Bacau Roma Wax Beans
- Rockwell shell beans
- Summer Squash
- A few Red Kuri winter squash!
- Dill bunches
- Cucumbers for pickling
And probably more too...
A few more things to pass on, my friend Vincent Nattress, a Coupeville grad who went off to become a chef and who recently move back to town with his lovely family, has created a blog about local food issues which I'm having a lot of fun following. This guy really loves eating on the island and I appreciate that! Anyways, he posted a great entry on the abundance of "fallen fruit" this time of year that I thought everybody might enjoy so here is the link -
And finally, a great photo of our mixed potatoes for everybody to salivate over...

Thank YOU! For buying and enjoying local food! This farmer is VERY grateful...

Georgie Smith, Farmer
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Preserving the bounty...

You might be surprised to hear me say this, but I'll be the first to admit - canning, pickling, freezing, dehydrating - all the many ways we can work to preserve the bounty of our local seasonal food...well it's a major pain. All the jars kicking around the house for months on end, baskets of rims, then all the prep work - cutting, slicing, snapping - followed by a rush of packing hot jars and then waiting, waiting, waiting for the water to boil and the allotted hot water bath/pressure canner time. And finally, the nerve-racking will my jars "ping?" Please, please let my jars ping!!!!
And since my daytimer has me pretty well scheduled during all daylight hours in the fields, food preservation for this farmer usually entails a very, very late night.
BUT...Is there are more satisfying feeling than looking at a counter of jars full of healthy, chemical-free food, food that was grown in your region supporting your local farmers keeping your favorite open lands in production???? Especially come December and January and February when the abundance of summer - the tomatoes, the beans, the beets - are long gone?
If you haven't ever tried preserving your food, its not as hard as it appears, and especially as you find great recipes and perfect your techniques, the products you end up with are well, really, really good. Just takes a little time and planning. And it is something that is much more fun with some friends and family. Get a good book - or google - here is one of my favorite sites for quick and easy info on canning, pickling, freezing and the many ways to put food up -
So this Sunday I plan to preserve some of the bounty. Especially since the batch of pickled Dilly Beans we did do this week is already about 1/4 gone! My husband has been eating about a pint of them a day! I do admit, they are addictive, kinda like potato chips only beany!
If you would like to stop by the market and put up some food for your family and friends, well we have lots of choices. And, on that note, we are offering a special promotion on all the veggies you need to make your own batch of dilly beans:
* FOR JUST $12 - 5 lbs of fresh beans (choose any of our 4+ varieties of beans, they are all great pickled!), one bunch of dill and 2 heads of garlic. We will also include a recipe, but basically, that's enough beans, dill and garlic for at least 8 pints. A bargain!

And what else of the summer bounty will be at market today, well, quite a bounty. Here is the brief (hah!) summary:

From Willowood Farm
- Potatoes - 7 flavors today plus baby new potato bags!
- Garlic - Probably 8 flavors today?
- Head Lettuce - loads of beautiful head lettuce!
- Kohlrabi - giant tender heads! Great raw in coleslaw, baked...
- Chard
- Kale
- Cabbage - three beautiful kinds! Great for coleslaw, sauerkrat (another fun and yummy home project!)
- Peas
- Chickpeas (probably the last week they'll be available in fresh form)
- Summer Squash - loads of perfect summer squash!
- Beans, beans, beans - We have our favorite Dragon Langeries and gorgeous Golden Rocky yellow wax beans....
- Gourmet mixed Italian Onions

From our friends at Prairie Bottom
- Lots more beans! Golden Bacau wax bean, Green Romas, French Filets
- Beet Bottoms! Great for canning
- More onions
- More taters
- Spinach
- Leeks
- Dill bunches
- Carrot Bunches
- Fava Beans
- Basil

And at Bayview Market only we will have a selection from Mikey at Whidbey Green Goods of Sungold tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil and yes, even more beans....

We hope to see you there!

Happy preserving!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, August 14, 2009

Farmer or Gardener?

So when does a gardener become a farmer? Or vice versa?
This topic comes up a bit at Willowood Farm. Partly because it has only been in the last year or so that I've felt I've earned the title "Farmer" versus, for example, "Out of Control Gardener..."
Now a lot of folks out there might think that's just nuts. I know Willow the intern does. Her words today, "The next person who comes over here and refers to this as a "garden" I'm going to knock them over the head with a kohlrabi..." Or something to that effect...
But she has a point. I am, afterall, actively growing on eight acres this year. I have two tractors, one combine, numerous implements....I plant rows 250 feet at a time (today I planted about 20 rows, so, let's see 5,000 row feet?).

Yet, growing up on Ebey's Prairie, surrounded by 100s of acres of field crops and with neighbors that mean actual "tons" (as in 2000 lbs of wheat) of a crop when they use the term versus just a descriptive word meaning "lots" (as in I have "tons" of beets for market, like 50 bunches...), the title of "farmer" has been one that hasn't really felt right until recently.
So what is the difference between a "farmer" and a "gardener." I would like to say that a farmer is a person that makes a living off their gardening. But since there have been a lot of farmers that spent many years NOT make a living off their gardening, well, that doesn't fit.
Perhaps it is more fitting to say a farmer is a person who at least HOPES to make a living off their gardening! Okay, I qualify there.

Does a farmer need to have large equipment? Well, not neccessarily. I think there are probably a lot of folks farming all over the world that don't own anything that runs on horsepower (except, for maybe actual horse power...). Although, I do admit that the purchase last fall of "Manny" the cutest little manure spreader I ever did see, made me feel like I had earned the title of "farmer." Spreading manure by machine rather than by pitchfork? Definite step up.
I think feeling like a farmer has been something that has grown on me. Something I have began to "own" the more years I do this, and the more I learn. I'll never know it all. That is the one thing about "farming" that I find endlessly fascinating. Working with plants, soil, bugs, and nature is so incredibly complex. I don't know how anybody could say they have a total understanding of it. It is constantly mystifying (and inspiring) to me.
Perhaps that's the difference. Gardeners, well anybody with an interest and effort can be a gardener. Even a good one. But a farmer? You've got to earn that right from Mother Nature herself (plus throw little bit of crazy in, because us farmers have to be a bit crazy to love working this hard!)
So, enough pontificating and on to the good stuff - the FABULOUS FOOD COMING TO THE COUPEVILLE AND BAYVIEW MARKETS TOMORROW!
Here we go -
From Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie
* Fresh Chickpea (aka Garbanzo bean) Bunches. These are a short seasonal treat so get them while you can, I would guess we'll have one more picking on them then they will be past the fresh stage. Yes, they are a bit of work to shell but so worth it! Chef Vincent Nattress, who recently moved to Coupeville with his family and is selling AWESOME sourdough pancakes and pulled pork sandwiches at the Coupeville Farmer's Market blogged about our chickpeas on his new local foods blog. And he came up with a great recipe. Check it out here -
And the really cool thing? Along with being an accomplished chef, Vincent is a COUPEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE! Go Wolves! Welcome back Vincent, Coupeville Rocks!
* Potatoes. Adding more kinds this week. Romanze (yellow/red), Mountain Rose (red/red), Purple Majesty (crazy purple), Carola (yellow) and some Maris Pipers (creamy white), as well. Come check out the growing selection (pun intended!).
* Garlic - should be coming with a nice mix of this as well. It is all curing nicely in the barn!
* Head Lettuce! New crop in. Looks great so come and enjoy!
* Onions, onions, onions....Lots of flavors.
* Brocolli
* Summer squash
* Romanesca Cauliflower (the crazy spiral orangey kind)
* HUGE cabbages. Red and green. Time for coleslaw and sauerkrat!
* HUGE kohlrabi. Add to above...
* Beets - Red, Chioggia and Golden!
* Carrots - Medium size and tasty! Some red ones too...
* Parsnips
* Kale and Chard bunches...
* Squash blossoms
* Bulb Fennel

From our friends at Prairie Bottom Farm
* Big Carrot bunches
* Huge beets for canning
* Lovely fresh beans - yellow wax, french filet, etc...
* More onions including green onion bunches!
* Lettuce Mix
* Summer Squash
* Leeks
* And more stuff but Wilbur keeps forgetting to send me his list so I'm not sure what else. WIL-BUR!!!!

So, thanks for reading all this and we sure do hope to see you tomorrow. I will be down at the Bayview market for those who have been missing me!

Eat your Vegetables!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, August 7, 2009

So what makes local food local, anyways?

So lately I've been thinking a lot about the whole concept of "local" as it is certainly bandied about a lot. I really got to thinking about this because of some "local" beans selling in our small town grocery store. They were advertised as local Washington grown beans, by the Inaba Family from Eastern Washington. They were priced at $1 a lb sell price and well, looked pretty darn bad. Now just to give you perspective, we've picked probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 lbs of beans today, took 4 people about 5 hours to do this. So 20 (wo)man hours. For $1/lb, well...unfortunately my farm does have to turn a profit at the end of the year! Our beans are going more in the neighborhood of $2.50 to $4 a lb, dependent on variety. I would love my local grocery store to sell my beans, and I would give them a wholesale price to be able to do so for a quantity sale, but I certainly would never be able to compete with beans priced at $1/lb retail...And well, customers are used to getting those $1/lb beans so coming in with a bean more at $3/lb even if they were picked fresh that morning and are of the highest quality - well, that's a bit of a shocker for some!
Yet those Inaba Family beans still can claim the "local" tag? As a farmer less than a mile away from the grocery store with 200+ lbs of beans sitting in my cooler, well...that's kind of a frustrating situation!
I've actually met members of the Inaba Family. Nice folks. Run a lot of acres in, I believe it is the Yakima area. Quite a few hours away. It would take most of us, what about 5 hours, to get from Whidbey to Yakima? Are those beans really local when they are available abundantly on Whidbey Island this time of year?
I think locality means a lot of different things to people. And it can be a small (20 miles) or big area (200 miles). And it can depend on the product. Some things - coffee and chocolate, two of my personal favorites - are great examples of things that, short of major global warming, probably won't be found growing locally on Whidbey Island. But so many, many things are! And the really cool thing, the more people like you - the consumer - ask for and purchase locally grown items then the more they will be available!
So remember, if you want to support your local farmers make sure that the local product you buy is "local," at least as far as you define it, and that they are actually farmers! Just because somebody is selling produce at your local farmer's markets doesn't always mean they are farmers! Sometimes they are just folks that bought the food off the supply truck and are reselling it, food from who knows where that they have no connection to! I was dismayed to read these articles...
Those of us working our the Willowood Farm market booths can assure you, we've all had a lot of one-on-one hours - lots and lots of hours - getting to know the beans, and other veggies, we offer for your eating pleasure! And on that note...
Coming to the Coupeville and Bayview markets tomorrow -
From Willowood Farm
- Potatoes - 4 lovely kinds even a fingerling this week!
- Garlic, garlic and more garlic...
- Beans. Oh, did we mention beans? We have 4 kinds - all the colors of the rainbow and so yummy!
- Gorgeous dwarf snow peas
- Fresh chickpea bunches! These are a very short season treat, incredibly tasty and we will bring recipes!
- Beet bunches - 2 kinds!
- Onions - Red Torpedos, Cippolinis, Tropeana Tondas...
- Broccoli
- HUGE kohlrabi
- Lovely savoy cabbage - one of our favorites!
- Kale and chard bunches

From Prairie Bottom Farm
- Big, sweet carrots
- Beet bottoms for canning
- Dill - for making Dilly Beans!
- More onions
- Even more beans...
- Fava Beans
And more...

We hope to see you there and THANK YOU! for supporting local farmers!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, July 31, 2009

Beans and Taters and Peas - Oh My!


So what do Pacific Northwest farmers do when it's record heat wave time? Go jump into the wonderfully cold waters of the Puget Sound...Ah, I got so cold I had to go cover up with a blanket! Bliss!

So, the greens aren't so fond of this hot weather, but there are some other veggies that are including...BEANS, BEANS, BEANS oh yeah, AND MORE BEANS!

So, anyways, we picked a lot of beans this week, and well, they are really just getting going. We picked over 60 lbs of beans on Wednesday, and then today - well, I didn't hear the final numbers but it definitely was somewhere around 100 lbs! We will be offering FIVE different types of beans at the markets tomorrow so come on by and enjoy the bounty! And on that note, here is a great recipe for fresh, locally grown beans!

Marinated Rainbow Bean Salad


  • 1/4 lb Haricot Vert (french Filet), 1/4 lb Yellow Wax Bean, 1/4 Dragon Langerie bean, 1/4 Purple Bean.
  • 2 large Red Onion diced
  • 1 cup Seasoned Rice Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to taste


Wash and trim beans. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill several hours or preferably overnight.


This is one of those recipes that gets better the longer it marinates!

So, coming to the BAYVIEW ONLY market tomorrow (Coupeville market is closed due to the Arts & Crafts Festival, so all our great loyal Coupeville customers we hope to see you down either at the Bayview market, or you can find a selection of Willowood Farm goodies at the bayleaf Store in Coupeville!) -

From Willowood Farm

- Beans - We have Dragon Langerie (my personal favorite, it means Dragon's Tongue, not Dragon's Underwear as the interns suggested...), Royal Purple, Dwarf French Filet (aka Haricot Vert) and Yellow Wax

- Potatoes - 4 kinds this market (and oh so many more to come...). Mountain Rose, Romanze, Carola and Maris Piper

- Garlic - Also 4 kinds this market...Brown Tempest, Asian Tempest, Red Toch and Persian Star

- Peas! A fabulous late picking. Several kinds including heirloom Dwarf Grey Sugar (featured on Oystercatcher menu)...

- Onions, onions, onions - Red & white cippolinis, Ailsa Crag (a big sweet onion, like Walla Wallas), red Torpedos, Tropeana Tonda...

- Kale & Chard bunches

- Bulb Fennel

- Broccoli

- And more...

From Prairie Bottom Farm:


- Beets

- Carrot bunches

- Even more onions

- And more...

Also we will have lots of baby summer squash from our friends Linda and Valerie at Rosehip Farm and Garden...

Hope to see you at market and THANK YOU for reading this and supporting WHIDBEY ISLAND FARMERS!


Georgie Smith, Farmer

Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Turkey Hoe-Down....

Turkey feet up...
Turkey feet down...
Don't ever put more than one foot down!

Gobble and whistle, shake and preen
Flip your feathers and swing
back around!
And don't ever put more than one foot down!

And that would be the Prairie Turkey Hoe-Down!
So on that note, the turkeys - we have a small flock of 12 - were hanging out enjoying our company and begging for any veggie left-overs out of the packing shed this afternoon. (And for anyone who hasn't been around turkeys, they are amazingly sociable, curious creatures). Lucky for you (and not so lucky for the turkeys), we only tossed the turkeys the trimmings of the following fabulous vegetables...Coming tomorrow, to the Bayview and Coupevile Farmer's Markets:
From Willowood Farm
* 4 KINDS of new taters - Reds, yellows, whites! Yummy!
* Glorious green kohlrabi
* Baby green cabbages
* Quinoa greens (yummy, think spinach like, but with a nuttier flavor)
* Rainbow Chard
* Huge, beautiful bunches of kale
* Rhubarb
* Loads of onions - Torpedo onions, tropeana tonda onions, cippolini onions, ailsa crag onions...
* Broccoli
* Pea Vines - with beautiful little flowers
* Baby bulb fennel - new crop thinnings...
* Gourmet garlic, several kinds!

From Prairie Bottom Farm
* Carrots, carrots and more carrots
* Beets, beets and more beets!
* Fava beans
* Even more onions
* Savoy cabbage
* Roma Green beans (limited quantities)...

You might notice from the list, not a lot of salad greens at the moment! That's what the hot weather does! But, more on their way...Also coming soons - LOADS more fresh green beans, lots of peas, fresh chickpea bunches, more garlic, summer squash, more cabbage, etc, etc, etc...
We hope to see you tomorrow! And for those of you in Coupeville, remember, not market the following weekend (Aug 1-2), due to the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival so don't forget to LOAD UP NOW!

Happy local eating!

Georgie Smith, Farmer
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Garlic Tale...

Many of you have asked, so how is it that you get all this garlic. What do you do? How does it happen? So here you go. The tale of how we may have garlic (well, actually this it just the end part of how we may have garlic, it really starts in October with planting time!). But, since this is what we were doing this week, here you go!

Here is the tractor wheel. Driving through the garlic. To loosen the dirt. To pull the garlic. So we may all have garlic...

And here areWillow and Eric, doing the garlic dance - shake the garlic, shake the garlic, SHAKE THE GARLIC. So we may all have garlic...(okay, they are just putting it in the truck, but a dance sounds cooler...).

And this, well this is just a big pile of garlic. (So we may all have garlic...).
And this? This is Georgie, showing off the newest high fashion garlic "up do." No really, this is Georgie hanging garlic. So the garlic can cure. So the garlic doesn't mold. So the garlic keeps 6 months (or more!). So we may all have garlic (for a long time...).

And here? Here is the garlic. The glorious, gorgeous garlic! So, yes, we MAY ALL HAVE GARLIC!

And for those of you who would like to know what we are bringing to market tomorrow (Coupeville and Bayview), of course...Here is the list.
From Willowood Farm
- Garlic (of course, although just a few of the other varieties so far, many are still waiting to be cleaned, hung and cured...)
- New potatoes! A lovely mix of yellows, whites and reds. True new taters (with uncured skins), ever so sweet and tender
- Kales. Two kinds and great recipes!
- Quinoa greens. This is seasonal treat. They can be used as salad greens or lightly cooked. Mild, nutty taste.
- Beet bunches - Golden, Red, Chioggia - you name it we got it!
- Baby carrot bunches
- Cippolini onion bunches
- Tropeana Tonda onions (famed Italian "top shaped" red onion...)
- Rainbow Chard
- Fava Beans (try them grilled, we just did it tonite - yummy!)
- Brocolli
- Rhubarb
- Mesclun and Leaf Lettuce mix - perfect for summer salads!

From Prairie Bottom Farm
- Big Carrot bunches
- Beet bottoms - great for canning
- Green Roma Beans! Wow! So early!
- Scallions
- Spinach
- Sugar Snap Peas
- And more...

We hope to see you tomorrow!
Farmer Georgie
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fava Freedom!

Fava Freedom! We needed this photo for last week with 4th of July and all (kudos to the interns for snapping this great shot)! Doesn't it look like they are little green rockets getting ready to blast off? Off to spread their message of legume love to the world?
This photo does seem apropos for this week however, as the "Sound of Freedom" jets have been in action a lot this week flying their touch and go circles around the farm, as those jet fuel streaks in the photo attest to.
It is an interesting juxtaposition this photo, fava beans being one of our most ancient vegetables, first cultivated around 6000 BC. And still thriving, even amongst the trappings of a modern, fast-paced, jet-fueled world...Hmm...I'm not sure what it all means, since I cooked my brain out in the sun today harvesting garlic, but I'm sure in means something important. If any of you can figure it out, well drop me a note and let me know!
And now, on to the goodies...
Coming to the Bayview and Coupeville farmer's markets tomorrow (and for those of you attending the OH market, we were unable to attend unexpectedly this week, we expect to be back on track next week...):
From Willowood Farm-
* Arugula
* Yukina Savoy Tatsoi
* Spinach
* Beets - Red Detroit, Chioggia and Golden! Big and BEE-YOOTIFUL!
* Kohlrabi
* Kale - baby Tuscan bunches from a new crop! Extra tender and sweet!
* Radicchio and Frisee Endive (Bayview only, cuz you guys have been asking for those lovely bitter greens!)
* Fava Beans! (or course)
* Head Lettuce
* Pea Vines
* Baby Green Cabbages
* Carrots
* Broccoli
* Sugar Snap and Snow Peas
* Walla Walla and Torpedo onions
* Fresh Garlic
And from Prairie Bottom Farm
* Bulb Fennel
* Salad Onions - multiple kinds
* Baby spinach
* Shelling Peas
* Beet Bottoms
* BIG carrot bunches
* Maybe a few green beans - I heard a rumor....????
And more stuff, for sure, but Wilbur (are you reading this Wilbur???? has yet to send me his list tonite so I'm not sure what all he's got but I know he's been busy! Ahem, Wilbur!!!!?????).
For a final note, a reminder that yes, Garlic Harvest Party tomorrow at Willowood Farm. And yes, we are feeling a bit desperate for any and all help! A lot of garlic yet left to clean! If you would like to come, check out the previous posting for info and directions.
Thanks for reading and your support of local, Whidbey Island farms!
Georgie Smith, Farmer
Willowood Farm of Ebey's Prairie