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The Moment I Became A Farmer

Warm and wet! That is how I would describe the weather around the NW corner of Washington. Most of you will concur, unless you are on vacation in Texas. Then it would be warm, wet and tornadoes! Climate change is a real deal. What is causing that change might be up for debate, but change is not.

Such change means that as a farmer, I have to mitigate risk all the time, even though by “nature” many of us farmers are risk averse (and this farmer is really risk averse.) But, because of where I live and farm, I have the opportunity to grow a great variety of crops and can even grow crops throughout the year. Toss in a greenhouse or hoop house, some propane, some artificial light and a you can make it Spring a whole lot earlier. But then, that would be more like farming in California and I have chosen to farm here.

How I remember when I first caught the farming bug. 1993 was the year and I was working in Portland Oregon at Kruger’s Specialty Produce as one of the produce guys that built displays in the produce section. Every day Organic growers would come to the store and bring in fresh lettuce, berries, and carrots. That’s when I caught the farming bug and I am afraid there is really no cure. We had a couple of kiddos and 32 sq. ft. of growing space and we were on our way. Every first-generation farmer starts with their first crop; mine was lettuce and that year I grew the most beautiful head of lettuce.

We wanted to farm so badly but needed to find an actual farm of our own. I still remember loading up the kiddos and heading to Goldendale or Tonasket or Montesano to look at a farm, but every time we came back to Snohomish County, literally when we crossed over the County line, we knew that this is where we wanted to farm, to live, and raise a family. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but oh so rewarding.

Fast forward 24 years. I am still growing the most beautiful heads of lettuce and many more vegetables and fruit. But every year, when I harvest that first head of lettuce it recreates that magical moment for me, the moment Klesick Farms was born, the moment I became a farmer.

Growing good food for your family,

Tristan Klesick

Farmer, Health Advocate

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An Eagle, Fog, Dew…and a Farmer.

As a farmer, the seasons are ingrained into my psyche. Day length, temperature, dew, clouds, every element, every nuance speaks to my soul.

One morning last week the moon was just hovering above the cottonwoods, a light fog was lifting, and the sun was just about to crest above the Cascades when I entered this predawn scene. As I stepped out of the old white farmhouse into a new day, I came into the beauty of the Stillaguamish River Valley—its stillness, quietness, and peacefulness. I was alone with my Creator in His creation, basking in all of it.

Stepping off the front porch and taking a few more steps towards the west, there was that brilliant globe suspended above the tree line. I stopped, mesmerized by its beauty and my smallness in it.

Not more than 100 feet above was a bald eagle circling. The same sun that illuminated the moon caught the bald eagle’s white head glistening as it glided through the fog. Its majestic wingspan and silhouette were shimmering with every turn, around and around, lower and lower, filled with grace and power, effortlessly sifting through the predawn sky.

Just at the tip of the tree line the bald eagle straightened out and sailed through the trees. At that moment I, too, returned to my home at peace, excited for what this day would bring.

An eagle, fog, dew, and the early morning dance of the moon and sun. As a farmer, moments like this speak to my soul. They remind me that I am the steward of this farm. My purpose is to balance growing food for you and for all the other creatures that call this place home. This is my work, this is my passion.

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Tristan Klesick

 

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Too Big To Fail

That was the battle cry of DC when the economy collapsed in ‘08. Yet, the large greedy financial institutions were then rewarded with a bailout, while many Americans lost their investments or jobs or homes. It feels like Congress is adopting a similar attitude towards Monsanto and other proponents of GMO technology.

The House of Representatives has passed the DARK Act in favor of protecting GMO companies from each individual state working on this issue. Why does a $15,000,000,000.00 (yes that is right, a $15 billion company) need legislative help to compete in a free market system? Congress is wrong to enter this fight on behalf of Monsanto and the other GMO companies.

If Congress really wants to clarify the issue, they should require labeling and give citizens the right to know instead of protecting GMO companies. Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association could then spend their money advertising trying to build their case to the public for why GMO’s are safe.

I am not proposing a label that bludgeons companies that manufacture GMO’s or food manufacturers that use GMO products in their ingredients. I believe that a simple addition of an * to each GMO ingredient on the label with the note “*Genetically Modified” located at the bottom is all that’s needed. That’s it!  Simple, straightforward, honest!

I believe that this is what Congress should be doing, then allow the American people to decide what they want to eat.

The labeling issue has important long term ramifications for our nation’s health and the future of farming. Therefore, our senators should temper the House of Representatives’ appetite to protect GMO companies and not pass their version. Instead, labeling GMO’s should be the law of the land.

Please contact your senators today and let them know that you would like them to not pass the DARK Act. Also, if you agree with my idea for labeling please let them know that as well.

Senator Maria Cantwell

425-303-0114

Senator Patty Murray

425-259-6515

 

Thank you.

 

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We're Digging!

Last week, Joelle and I and a few kiddos went out for our usual walk on the farm.  We started out at the sunflowers, headed over to winter squash, then grazed on a few raspberries, and checked out the pears, plums, apples and potatoes.  The potato plants looked ready for harvest, so we pulled up a few plants and WOW! We dug reds, yellows, and purples. The yellows, which you are getting this week, were the most ready.

We always like to dig a few potatoes right away. When you dig potatoes early, the skins tend to be “loose” or not “set”.  Our normal strategy is to dig a few rows early in the season and let the remaining potatoes “set” their skins. It takes about six weeks from when we mow the tops of the potatoes to start the process. Mowing the tops stops the growth and sends a signal to the plant to get ready for winter.

I am thoroughly amazed at the earliness of the potato crop this season. The plants didn’t grow as large as I usually expect, but the flavor is outstanding and the quality matches it. If you are new to Klesick’s, these potatoes are like nothing you will ever see in the grocery store. The skins will be loose or flakey because, as mentioned earlier, these are ultra-Klesick Farm fresh.

We like our potatoes cut into small pieces, 1 inch x ½ inch, and oven roasted at 425 °F with a little olive oil and salt. Simply delicious!

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The Nature Conservancy

This weekend the Nature Conservancy is hosting an open house at the Port Susan Bay Preserve. If you have time check it out. The Port Susan Bay Preserve is beautiful and serene, truly a treasure and I am glad that it has been preserved for generations to come. If it works into your schedule come on out and enjoy the Stillaguamish River Valley.

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Progress. One Bite At A Time.

This week we start delivering to the Kenmore, Lake Forest Park and Inglewood communities on Wednesdays. And on Thursday we are going to be delivering to North Seattle or 145th Street North to Snohomish County.

This is very exciting news for us here at Klesick Farms. For the last 17 years we have been growing, sourcing, and delivering only organically grown fruits and vegetables. We haven’t deviated from our mission or our message of helping growers stay on the land and helping our customers eat well.

We are passionate about healing our Nation through farming and believe that the health of our Nation is tied to the health of our food supply and helping more customers eat healthy food is a big part of the solution.

Over the years, what was a dream to be a family farm became a good food community; a community of passionate growers and urban allies, working together to build a better food system for future generations. This is a community of folks who believe that the environment and farming can do more than coexist, the two can thrive together. Folks who see the through ruse of the GMO proponents and believe that world can be fed using organic growing practices AND SHOULD BE!

I love what we do, I love that we have done it every day, with every delivery to every customer for so many years. We believe that by working in unison, Klesick Farms, our growers, and you, we are making a difference locally and beyond.

And as a local good food community we are also a part of a larger difference that is being played out in communities across America and the world.

We are turning the tide of a corporate driven food system one bite at a time.

 

Farmer Tristan

 

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Join Me in Protecting the Integrity of Our Food Supply

Locally, we have been fighting to preserve farmland and now I need your help to convince our two Congress Representatives to vote NO on HR1599: the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. This bill essentially prevents states from adopting their own GMO laws and REVERSES any laws that have already passed. That is the wrong kind of leadership on this issue.

The anti-GMO community is calling this the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right to Know Act).  I have spoken with Congressman Rick Larsen and Congresswoman Suzan Delbene’s office and neither of them are committing at this time on which way they are going to vote. The vote is in two days – I know how I would vote!

Please click on the link and express your opinion. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday. Also, please share this and let’s let our representatives know that GMO’s are not the future and should not receive preferential treatment from the federal government. ASK them to vote NO on HB 1599, aka the DARK Act.

 

Tristan

 

 

Act Now on GMO Labeling to Stop the “DARK” Act

Contact your Representative in Congress today!

From the National Organic Coalition 

The innocuously named HR 1599: the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act has been dubbed the DARK Act (Denying Americans the Right-to-Know Act) by members of the good food movement. The DARK Act will be voted on in Congress next week.

The DARK Act will:

  • Prevent states from adopting their own GMO labeling laws and reverse laws that have already passed.
  • Prevent state or county laws regulating GMO crops.
  • Prevent the Food and Drug Administration from requiring companies to label GMO ingredients and instead continue a “voluntary” labeling policy. In 14 years, not one company has voluntary labeled products containing GMO ingredients.

Take action now to stop the DARK Act!

  1. Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121, and ask for your Representative’s office where you can leave her or him a message.
    Click here to find out who your Representative is.
  2. Click here to send an email: Tell Congress to oppose the DARK Act and support mandatory GE food labeling!

Below is some sample language for your message to your Representative.
Please customize this to fit your voice.

Please oppose HR 1599 (the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act”). Congress should focus on the labeling solutions that Americans are asking for – not legislation written by and for big food and chemical companies that only serves to keep Americans in the dark.

You may also thank legislators who have come out against the Dark Act and for labeling:

Chris Gibson of New York
Peter DeFazio of Oregon
Barbara Boxer of California

For more information, and to send a message today, click here.

GMO food labeling is important to Americans, with over 90% consistently supporting transparency in the marketplace. In 2013 and 2014 there were over 70 GMO labeling bills introduced across 30 states, with laws being passed in Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.

View this post on Cornucopia.org

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Klesick now serves Shoreline & Inglewood Communities

We have exciting news! We are expanding our delivery zones to serve Shoreline and Inglewood communities next week!

Let your friends, co-workers, and family know that we are now offering a box of good to the Inglewood/Bothell communities to 116th St. on Wednesdays and to the North Seattle/Shoreline communities down to NE 145th St. (Hwy 523) on Thursdays.

As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, due to the disappointing vote from The Snohomish County Council a few weeks ago, concerning farmland preservation, I am now working on a different strategy. If the county won’t help us preserve farmland, we will have to do it ourselves – one intentional bite at a time. The strategy is simple: deliver more fruits and vegetables from local farms to local eaters.

Throughout this last year we have been preparing to expand our delivery service and areas in order to build strong bonds between local farmers and local customers.

In October we moved into a new packing facility in Stanwood, nearer to our farm and to other farms that we work closely with in the region. At that time we added more infrastructure to better serve local farmers and you, our customers. We added additional cooler space and freezer space as well as expanding our packing capacity.

Last month we expanded our delivery days from 4 days to 5 days.

Last week we updated our shopping cart to be more mobile-friendly than ever. Ordering organic, local, and GMO-free produce just got easier.

This brings you a fun referral opportunity: For every person you refer from anywhere, you will receive a free bar of Theo Chocolate and your name will be entered for a chance to win a free two-night stay at the beautiful La Conner Channel Lodge.

Farmer Tristan

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Keep Multi-Family Zones at Higher Densities and Preserve Farmland

A few weeks ago you received an action alert from farmer Tristan Klesick and I, asking for your help in telling the Snohomish County Council to not adopt changes to the County’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program. Unfortunately, the County Council did not listen.  Instead, Council’s decision was a missed opportunity and allowed exemptions for single family homes and townhouses from the TDR program, and preserving valuable farmland and local food sources.  

If that wasn’t bad enough, now the County Council is considering removing even more land and development from the TDR Program!

The County Council is considering reducing minimum density requirements in multi-family zones–even those multi-family zones around Highway 99 are perfect for transit-oriented, mixed use redevelopment.  This would allow for single family homes and townhomes in areas that are best suited for higher densities.  It would also remove more land from the TDR program, which would reduce opportunities for protecting critical farmlands in Snohomish County.

If the Council approves, we will lose opportunities for affordable housing near transit; we will lose receiving areas for TDR development credits to preserve farmland, and we’ll have further expansion of our urban growth areas into our rural lands.

That is a lose-lose-lose situation.  Ultimately, if the Council decreases densities in our Multi-Family zones, we will also be adding more and more cars to our roads creating more traffic nightmares, adding more pollutants into our air and water, and giving the developers exactly what they want…open season on our rural lands for more sprawling development!  And we won’t be helping our farmers preserve farmland!

Please CLICK HERE to send a message to the Snohomish County Council today to tell them NO to reducing minimum densities in our Multi-Family zones, and YES to keeping TDR receiving areas intact for these zones to help preserve farmland and local food sources.  

Our Council needs to hear from you!  They need to know that you want housing choices for all income groups and higher densities in the multi-family zones that will help jumpstart transit-oriented development.   We need long-range planning regulations that will house our growing population near transit and urban centers, reduce car trips that are polluting our air and water and clogging our roads, and save farmland from urban sprawl.

The hearing is at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15th!  Please CLICK HERE  to send the message before the hearing.  If you can, please attend the hearing and speak directly to the Council.

Thank you for your help!

Kristin Kelly, Snohomish/Skagit Program Director, Futurewise

P.S.  If you would like more information about how to support your local farmers and about Klesick Farms, contact Tristan by Clicking Here.

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Kristin Kelly
Email: [email protected]
Phone:
Address: 1429 Avenue D, #532
City: Snohomish WA 98290

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Preseving Local Food Options & Farmland, Part II

Week of June 21, 2015

Preserving local food options and farmland should not be this hard! The United States has been blessed with some amazing Natural resources like good Farmland, Forest lands, grazing lands, minerals, water and waterways. And since the day this country was founded we pushed west.  Forward Ho! Surprisingly?!?!?!, we reached the Pacific Ocean and no longer can push west.  So what are we going to do now to wisely use the finite natural resources we have been blessed with to provide a quality of life for generations of future citizens?

Farmers are like any other member of our communities. We have kids, grand kids, we have to go to the dentist and doctor, save for weddings and retirement. We also have to manage a large community resource called farmland. And in the last 20 years that management has included an ever increasing regulatory burden, otherwise known as additional expenses to run our farms. And the closer your farm is to the city it gets more complicated, and if you happen to farm next to a river and a city, WOW!

Given the County Council’s appetite to not use Zoning or TDR as mechanisms to shift the Development pressure away from our farms at the moment, we need a different strategy.

I think fair pricing, not price gouging is a part of the solution, but supply and demand drive prices. Having more farms selling to more local folks will keep food prices affordable and have the biggest impact on saving farmland today.

To accomplish this, each of us will have to be intentional. I believe small-to-medium farmers are the key to feeding our local communities. Literally, bringing a box of good to more people is the solution. I have intentionally positioned Klesick farms to play a larger part in feeding our local communities. We have moved to a new packing facility, we have expanded our delivery days and are working with more local growers to get more local food to our customers.

The solution is to have more of you! Yes more of you: customers who are intentional about supporting local farms. It is that simple: the more local customers, the more local farms. So preserving local food options looks like eating locally from local farms! We need more intentional eaters!

Look for information on Facebook and in your inboxes this week as we roll out a new summer campaign to preserve local food options and farmland.

 

Together we can make a difference!

 

Farmer Tristan


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Preserving Local Food Options & Farmland, Part I

Week of June 14, 2015

Last week, Klesick Farms and you, our Good Food Community, teamed up with Kristin Kelly, the executive Director of Snohomish County Futurewise, and the Pilchuck Audabon Society to encourage our County Council to “preserve local food options and farmland.” In 2012 the County Council voted 5-0 to implement the current Transfer of Rights Development (TDR) program. Last week the Council voted 4-1 to essentially gut the TDR program and give the development community the “green light” to build more single family homes. So now the County Council has “caved” in to the developers’ wishes, meaning our urban areas will still receive most of the incoming population growth.

If the Council would have stood on their decision to support TDR, that growth would have still gone to our urban areas, but we would have been able to preserve, forever, thousands of acres of farmland at the same time. The Council, except Dave Somers, didn’t want to hold the line and require the development community to use TDRs. Council members Ken Klein, Terry Ryan, Brian Sullivan, and Stephanie Wright voted against TDR. So now Snohomish County residents will still get the extra growth, but the developers will get more profits and no farmland is protected. That is not a win-win; it is a windfall profit for a few landowners and developers.

Also, in 2012, Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright voted for the TDR program. If they would have voted the same way this time or committed to stand with TDR, I wouldn’t have had to ask for your help. Ironically, Council members Brian Sullivan and Stephanie Wright were not running for reelection in 2012, but they are this year.

What really bothers me is the lack of integrity that exists in our political process. This change to the TDR program “came out of nowhere” and was timed to limit public participation and placed into legislation where there is no repeal process. Where is the transparency in that!

This week Kristin and I will be asking for your help again to send one final email message to the County Council expressing our dissatisfaction with their vote and a desire for more transparency in the process. Please join us in sending a strong response for the Council to preserve our local food options and farmland by implementing wise growth policies going forward.

Kristin Kelly and I both believe that the Snohomish County can balance the need to accommodate the future growth with protecting our farmlands. It is more than doable. Click here to send your response to the Snohomish County Council.

Respectfully submitted,

Farmer Tristan