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Wild, Farmed, and GM

salmon-safe-logo 250x297In a far away land, there lived a fisherman who fished and fished and fished. The salmon he caught were sold at the marketplace. He was an early rising and hard working fisherman who had learned the habits of the fish. He understood their cycles and seasons, like when they would return to spawn. He respected the gift of the fish and so only fished in such a way as to not hurt the future of the fish or its ability to continue to feed not only people, but all living things within the watershed (bears, eagles, earthworms, grasses, trees).

As the years marched on, the fisherman noticed that the fish he was catching were a little smaller and less plentiful as they once were. He still sold his fish at the marketplace, but now he had competition from a farmer selling “farmed” fish. The farmer was raising salmon in a pen. The cost of raising the fish was cheaper and the marketplace got a bargain.

Eventually, word spread that the farmer’s fish didn’t have the richness, color, or the revered Omega 3s found in the wild salmon populations. The farmer soon discovered, however, that if he took the food of the wild salmon, like sardines and herring, and made it into fishmeal and fish oil to feed his farmed salmon, they tasted better. Unfortunately, there was a lot of bycatch (incidental or unwanted fish and other marine species) in the process and, as to be expected, a lot less fish for the wild salmon to eat.

The marketplace was growing weary and leery of farmed salmon, and for good reason. The farmer realized that the customers were becoming educated and were voicing their opinion about the overharvesting of sardines and all the bycatch. To make matters worse, word was getting out that his farmed fish were “getting out.”

After some thought, the farmer contacted another farmer and started to buy genetically modified (GM) soybeans to supplement the fish meal and fish oil, to help his farmed salmon grow bigger sooner. He reasoned that if his fish grew quickly, not only would they be ready for market sooner on less feed, but they would spend less time in the pen, meaning less chance for escapement. All of this would mean more profit.

Later, when a scientist discovered that a growth hormone could be injected into the salmon egg, causing the fish to grow twice as fast and twice as big, the farmer embraced the scientist. The marketplace, however, embraced neither, but instead let the farmer know that they would not eat his farmed, GM-fed, or GM-altered fish.

Thankfully, the fisherman was still fishing and bringing his nutrient-rich, Omega 3 laden wild salmon to  the marketplace, where he was greeted by excited customers who valued the fish and the fisherman for helping them live better and eat better.

Always organic, always GMO free.


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Farmland = Food

The other day, I was driving through our valley and noticing the diversity of crops and farms. Our valley in the lower Stillaguamish hasn’t changed much since the 40s. We are, relatively, newcomers to this section of the river, having arrived in 2003, which is longer than any other place we have lived.  When we found this farm, we were super excited and got to work restoring an 1892 built farmhouse and building our legacy of farming. 
Surrounded by several generations of farmers, we moved into the “old Martin place” and started the process of learning how to farm this ground. We knew the ground had potential, we studied the soil maps and talked to farmers who had farmed it and gleaned stories about when to work it and when not to, and most importantly how it floods!
The reason we were able to buy this farm is because the Stillaguamish River frequently overruns its usual meandering path and covers the whole valley. Oh my, what a shock to actually experience the power of the Stillaguamish River. But it is the Stillaguamish River’s propensity to flood that has actually preserved farmland or else I wouldn’t be writing this newsletter.
But isn’t this the crux of the issue, we have a farm because the river demands us to share the land, otherwise it would look like a city! It is more though—our farmland is a community resource.  No farmland means no food and no food means no people.  We, as community, have a personal and collective interest in preserving our farmland.  More than food is produced on our farmland. There are other creatures that have their homes and lifestyles preserved because of the river and the farmland. I believe we need to switch from chemical farming and GMO farming to organic type farming. It will be better for our health and the health of our world.
From the beginning of civilization, farms and cities have coexisted in proximity and community. The Klesick Family Farm and you represent the future of farming and the future of good nutrient-rich food for future generations. Organic farmers and organic consumers are providing sanity to a system that is bankrupt, where farmers act more like miners robbing our soils of the nutrients we need to live.
Your weekly support of home delivery service impacts the future. Essentially, consumers of organic food today are preserving the healthy farmland for tomorrow (with the help of the Stillaguamish River, of course). 
And maybe, just maybe someone will look at my farm in a 100 years from now and pick up the soil and look at its tilth and smell its life and want to farm the “old Klesick place” and continue to feed their neighbors nutrient-rich food.
My goal is to raise nutrient-rich food and one day leave this farm more fertile and more friendly to all those who call this place home.
Farming “the Old Martin Place” with an eye towards the future,
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Good Fences are a Must

The first year I ran cows, I spent a lot of time researching which grazing system I wanted to use. There was barb wire, New Zealand, or just one hot wire. The choices were straightforward. Every dairy cow in our valley is controlled by one hot wire right next to the road. Being overly cautious, I settled on two hot wires. 

Well, those first cows arrived, wandered out of the trailer, impolitely walked through the hot wire, and left. OH NO! Thankfully it was Sunday and all of our neighbors were home. It took all day long to round them up. Fortunately, one our dairy farm neighbors corralled them for us. Our family went to work building a 4-strand barb wire fence with one hot wire in the middle. That was an education. Now when our cows break a hot wire fence, it is an interior fence and they are still contained by the perimeter barb wire fence. We even have combination locks on our exterior gates so that they can’t be accidently opened. Nothing like chasing cows, and cows by nature are pretty docile, but when they know you are trying to catch them or move them all bets are off. 
The other challenge with having fences is controlling the grass on the fence line. It takes us 40 man-hours to trim the grass in order to make sure that the blackberries don’t grow and the grass won’t short out the electric fence.
Last week, when we were trimming the grass, a hot wire at a post was cut and no one noticed for a day or two. Eventually the cows let us know, at least the few that are always testing the fence and our patience☺. (Hmmm, sounds like a good segue into parenting, but we will save that for another week.)
We are now on the hunt to find the short in the fence that the cows have discovered. I am not concerned, however, because now the cows can only wander around inside the perimeter fence and not the neighbor’s yard. But we still need to find it. We start turning off sections of fence to locate the short. Sometimes the short is a wire that is touching another wire or overgrown grass touching the wire or, in this case, a cut wire.  
We finally ended up finding the break. It was on a buried section of wire where it came out of the ground. I grabbed the end of the wire to fix it, but I grabbed the hot one that wasn’t shorted out. Man that wire was hot—sent a jolt right up my arm. Yep, the electric fence charger still works.
Moral of the story: good fences make good neighbors and let your kids fix the fence when it is shorted out!
PS.Take a look at our video below to meet the cows! 


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'09 in the Books


It was this time last year that our farm and faming neighbors were hunkering down and sand bagging like crazy.  The January ’09 flood was a record event.  Flooding is a fairly normal event during the winter, but last January was the perfect storm.  We had snow melting, huge amounts of rain and really high tides.  As you can imagine, I am glad that the January ’09 flood is put to rest. 

It is ironic how over time disasters take on their own personality and eventually are referred to as the ’51 flood or the ‘9o flood.  Farmers are already referring to the January ’09 flood as the ’09 flood.  I have been in more than one meeting where an old timer has stood up and referenced the ’51 flood.  I have never seen pictures of the ’51 flood, until recently. I knew that it was a big flood to have so burned the memory of into the farmers pysche 50 years later.  But when I saw the aerial photographs, I finally understood.  That flood wiped out the City of Stanwood. May we never see water like that again.