Tania & Bob Partridge, A Mud-free and Super-efficient Horse Farm

Tania & Bob Partridge, A Mud-free and Super-efficient Horse Farm

Tania and Bob participate in our Sound Horsekeeping program and were awarded an attractive sign to show visitors that their farm is managed to reduce mud, manage manure, improve pastures, and enhance wildlife habitat. Would you like to be recognized as a Sound Horsekeeper? Learn how at http://snohomishcd.org/sound-horsekeeping-sign-program or call Michael Hipp at 425-377-7019.

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Reforesting the Arney Farm in Oso

Guest Feature by Sarah Arney

More than 25 years ago, after deciding to build a house in a pasture on my father’s dairy farm, I started planting trees around the site of my future home. When neighbors saw me planting trees, some commented that those farmers who cleared the land 100 years ago were rolling over in their graves, after all their hard work here. Clearing land for hay and critters was the thing to do in those days, here in the Stillaguamish River Valley.

Things have changed

Now, with changes in agriculture and the dairy industry, the thing to do is to plant trees along streams and the river to enhance fish habitat and water quality. 

It was March 2014 when I first learned about the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (or CREP), a government program coordinated in Snohomish County by Snohomish Conservation District. At a public meeting in Oso, I learned the District was offering assistance for planting Northwest native trees and shrubs along 300 feet of my river frontage and on both sides of a creek that crosses my land.

Soon after that public meeting, my brother Bob and I met with a resource planner from the Conservation District and did a walkabout on the property left from Dad’s original Arney Dairy Farm. She said it was perfect for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.

A Blue Tube and Native Plant Forest is Born

In November 2015 we signed a contract and received a map showing the areas to be planted and an extensive list of plants to be planted. The list ranged from classic Douglas fir and Western red cedar to willows, birch, cascara, Pacific crabapple and big leaf maple, to name just a few. Shrubbery to in-fill between the bigger trees included red osier dogwood, snowberry, Nootka rose, beaked filbert and too many more to remember. 

The planting was done in March this year by a contractor, Calypso Restoration, and the field was full of blue protectors. It looked a bit like a war memorial cemetery. Now, thanks to the rapidly growing field grass, there’s no sign of blue — until the hay is cut this summer.

It was a long and complicated process, but it finally came together, and we are excited to watch this new riparian forest outgrow the canary grass and blackberries. I don’t believe my father would begrudge our decision to reforest the farm. I’m quite sure he would honor our contribution to the future of this earth. By the way, those trees I planted in 1990 in preparation for building my home? They are now 30 to 40 feet tall!

The next task for the Arney Farm, also funded through CREP, is maintaining the new plantings for five years to make sure plants have a fair chance to survive. Crews and private contractors generally provide this service by mowing and weeding annually. 

-From 2016 Summer Nexus

Yoga, Nature and Community at Ananda Farm

Yoga, Nature and Community at Ananda Farm

Ananda* Farm is a 14-acre, community-owned yoga and permaculture farm on the south end of Camano Island. Their mission is to live simply and harmoniously with nature, and to provide basic needs for themselves and a growing community of friends. Yoga and meditation are the foundation of life at the farm. Ananda Farm represents a positive change for the Camano-Stanwood community, and reflects the diversity of clients the conservation district now serves. 

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Capturing Rainwater, Curbing Soil Creep

Capturing Rainwater, Curbing Soil Creep

It can’t be any fun to sit at your kitchen table and watch the soil on the hillside above your backyard slowly slide down and envelope your house and garage. Not only is it not fun, it can be stressful knowing the foundation of your house and garage are surely rotting from wet soil and the constant pressure of soil creeping downslope. 

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Life on a Tree Farm Never Slows Down…. or So It Seems

Life on a Tree Farm Never Slows Down…. or So It Seems

One thing you hear a lot when you take a walk in the woods with local forester Duane Weston is his to-do list. He frequently mentions where he needs to fill in with new trees, clear a fallen log, clean up one of many trails, add more wildlife habitat, or thin an older stand of trees. There seems to be a never-ending list of work on a 40-plus acre tree farm, but you can tell Duane relishes the opportunity to work on it and make on-going improvements.

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Beth & Scott Morrison, Lawns to Lettuce

Congratulations to Beth and Scott Morrison, our grand prize winners in the Lawns to Lettuce Un-Contest! Beth and Scott won a cedar raised bed for their city lot in Granite Falls, which they fondly refer to as "Almost-A-Farm". When they first moved in, their 1/4-acre was just lawn, rhododendrons, and boxwoods. Now they have an apple tree, artichokes, sunchokes, pumpkins, beans, kale, herbs, tomatoes and much more.  But that's not all. When they found out their neighbor had a 1/4-acre they weren't using, Beth and Scott turned it into a community garden (with their neighbor's permission, of course). Beth and Scott and their three young children now garden the lot in addition to their own and provide food to help feed four families throughout the summer! On top of all of that, they've even influenced one of their neighbors to start a garden in her yard. Way to go from Lawns to Lettuce, Beth and Scott!

What is your proudest DIY garden project?  In one year, we have turned 1/4 acre into a veggie garden, with yard space for the kids, have chickens and enough to share with the neighbors.  

Favorite element?  My neighbor has 1/4 acre they were not using, they offered it to us as a community garden.  We now garden that, feeding 4 families weekly throughout the summer. Another neighbor now is starting a garden in her yard.  

What do your friends or neighbors say?  It is neat to hear people talk as they walk by about pumpkins, squash, cabbages and roses all living together.  Last summer, one girl did her senior picture in front of my gate with Red runner beans on it.

What was the biggest challenge? (And what did you learn from it?)  Farming in the city is harder than I thought.  We have always been on acreage.  Learning to deal with rodents in compost, not being able to bring a tractor in to dump compost has been a lesson in creativity.  We added 10 yards of compost to both our garden at home and the garden next door

What is your favorite water-saving tip or trick?  Drip lines, deep watering every 3 days or so.  When the kids play in water tubs (we don't have a wading pool) I scoop out that water for plants rather than dump it out.

Why do you love gardening?  It is in my blood.  My grandfather was known to take cuttings from everything to root them.  My father has corn 7' tall this year.  I find it a huge accomplishment to take seeds, plant them, water and be able to feed our family on a $3.00 seed packet.  My kale is a product of seeds I bought 5 years ago.  I save seeds each year so that I do not have to buy it.  I would say the first pack of seeds was a good investment.

Final thoughts or bonus ideas?  Get the whole family involved!  My kids help plant, I have mystery squash and beans everywhere since I give them the big seeds to plant while I work.  My three-year-old packs around patty pan squash pretending they are babies.  They do kill some plants with kindness, but all three of our kids eat things like kale, squash, beans, carrots and more.

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