Posted on

A Family Farm

Every farm at one time was a family farm. But along the way, farming became more business-like and less farm-like. Don’t get me wrong, farming has a bottom line and to stay in business a farm has to make a profit. What changed though? When did our food become so impersonal? It’s just lettuce, or tomatoes, or?

Just lettuce, for example, takes a year in the making. The lettuce seed farmer has to grow the lettuce plant to produce seeds, clean the seeds, and then package the seeds. Then a lettuce farmer has to buy the seeds, fertilize the fields, and plant the lettuce seeds. Then about 6-10 weeks later that farmer gets to harvest the lettuce and sell it to a thankful customer. But because our farming regions are further and further from urban centers, we are losing touch with the farming industry that is essential for life.

As a farmer I am in awe that food is so readily available and that we have so much local food available. The Puget Sound/Salish Sea area of Western WA has a robust local farm economy. We are blessed with so many smaller farms, surrounded by larger farms – dairies and berries. The whole system is interwoven and supported by tractor dealers, farm suppliers, veterinarians, food processors, etc.

To feed people you need farmers and farmers need land. Thankfully, much of Western Washington farmland is in flood plains—AKA not good places to build houses. These rich alluvial soils that are some of the most productive in the world are right here in our own backyard! This same farmland is a multi-benefit landscape providing many other benefits to our local communities. In addition to local food and food security, local farms store flood water, filter water from the hillsides and cities before it gets to the rivers and estuaries, provide open space and lots of habitat for a host of non-human critters too.

But what makes all these direct and indirect benefits of local farmland possible? A willing consumer and a willing farmer that have developed a mutually beneficial and meaningful relationship. For us, local customers are the reason we are farming. Because of you we grow food—organic, non-polluted food—that nourishes you, your family and indirectly benefits the entire local ecosystem. You might say that having local farmland farmed by local families is a win for you, the farmer and the local eco system.


Growing food for you,

Tristan Klesick

Your Farmer and Community Health Activist

Posted on

Food is Culture

Does our food define us? Does it define us as a family, a community, a state, a nation? Can we define our culture by the food we eat? If we could, what would that tell us? These are not easy questions to answer. And, what kind of answers would we give to these questions? Types of food? How we prepare the food? How often we eat? By our health numbers like blood pressure, insulin spikes, or cholesterol? Or, by cancer, obesity, or mental health?

In many ways Americans have access to the healthiest food systems anywhere. For one, because we have a lot of resources. For another, because of the many different ethnic influences that have shaped this nation. Oh, the choices. Every ethnic group has brought a part of their culture and food with them and today, because of our global economies, we have access to it. And, I believe, our taste palette likes the new flavors and our mind is excited to try new things.

Of course, if we are what we eat, then our health will also inform us as to what we believe about food. Everyone I know believes that we should be eating more fruits and vegetables. Everyone I know also knows, and correctly, that a whole host of today’s maladies are attributed to “lifestyle” choices–not drinking enough water, eating too much sugar, eating bad carbs, not eating fruit and vegetables, or not getting enough sleep.

Sadly, the American mentality towards food and health is, “I can have my cake and eat it, too.” And we believe this about foods we “know” are not good for us. But, because our bodies are so resilient, we borrow against the future. Our future health bill as a nation is coming due and for some, it is already personally coming due.

For us as a nation, a community and as individuals, this trend can change and has to change, but it will only do so one bite at a time. One determined bite at a time that sends a message to the institutional food system, “You can’t have my money or my health!”

As a local farmer and business owner, I want my contribution to the local food culture to be life giving and life changing. It makes my life work more meaningful knowing that I am working with nature to grow food for local people who are defined by not “only” what they eat, but by where they choose to source their food.

Together we are building a healthy food micro-culture.




Tristan Klesick

Farmer/Health Advocate



Posted on

Snohomish Farm-Fish-Flood Initiative: Finding Common Ground

Published in the Everett Herald, Sun Sep 11th, 2016 1:30 am

Since the retreat of the Vashon Glacier 13,000 years ago, the area that is now Snohomish County has been one of the best places on earth to live. A rich tribal salmon culture flourished here for millennia; settlers came for timber, fish, and fertile farmland; cities grew up around natural ports on our protected inland sea.

But the “resource lands” of Snohomish County – the farms, forests, natural habitat, open space and parks – that make this such a productive and beautiful place to work and live are facing historic challenges. An additional 200,000 people are expected to move here within 30 years; a changing climate – bringing droughts, floods, reduced snowpack, and sea level rise – is impacting agriculture, fish, forests, and communities; salmon runs are crashing; and the political and economic demands upon farmers, tribes, agencies, and developers are unprecedented.

Despite this complex landscape, groups are coming together in the spirit of “collaborative conservation” to work towards win-win solutions. The recent Farm-to-Table dinner hosted by the Sustainable Land Strategy (SLS) Agriculture Caucus, Snohomish Conservation District, and the Snohomish County Farm Bureau brought together a remarkably diverse 75-person group that included tribal leaders, flood control and drainage districts, big and small farmers, conservation groups, and high-level government officials, from County Executive Dave Somers to Puget Sound Partnership Director Sheida Sahandy and the Conservation Commission’s Mark Clark. On a pastoral 100 year-old farm on the banks of the Snohomish River, individuals shared their stories and their fears, listened to others’ perspectives, and experienced first-hand what exactly is at stake.

For over six years, the Snohomish County Sustainable Lands Strategy (SLS) has been providing a multi-stakeholder forum for identifying “net-gains” for simultaneously preserving and enhancing agriculture and salmon habitat.

The SLS, and similar regional “multi-benefit” initiatives like the public-private Floodplains by Design partnership between TNC, Ecology, and the Puget Sound Partnership, are based on the premise that science, collaboration, and coordinated investment can begin to bring together historically opposed groups, and address fish-farm-flood needs in a comprehensive way.

The benefits of this approach are beginning to emerge. The SLS brought together Lower Skykomish farmers, Tulalip Tribes, and other stakeholders to utilize reach-scale assessments and GIS maps to overlay potential habitat restoration areas, flood mitigation and drainage projects, and water quality sites. The Stillaguamish Tribe worked with the City of Stanwood, the Stillaguamish Flood Control District, and farmers to create a package of seven multi-benefit projects that received full funding under the Washington State Legislature’s Floodplains by Design program.

The SLS and its partners are also developing innovative models around conservation easements and the purchasing of development rights, incentives for stewardship practices, and climate resiliency planning.

In recognition of the efforts to advance this collaborative conservation model, and the national significance of our resource land base, the President recently designated the Snohomish basin as one of four focus areas under the federal Resilient Lands and Waters Initiative. The timely potential for positive impacts within our communities and ecosystems has never been greater or more imperative. We are all coming to the table with different needs but a common agenda: the long-term stewardship of these lands, and of our future.

Tristan Klesick, Klesick Family Farms, SLS Co-Chair

Terry Williams, Tulalip Tribes, SLS Co-Chair

Monte Marti, Snohomish Conservation District Manager

Posted on


I am not surprised that the Senate and House of Representatives cast their votes to send the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act to President Obama to sign, but I am saddened that President Obama signed it, and so willingly!

Essentially, for all of its purported good, it does nothing to protect the health of Americans and will not cause any meaningful information to be labeled on foods manufactured using GMOs. The DARK Act is wasted time and energy and is meaningless legislation that does nothing for America’s health or environmental crises. It does allow corporations an escape hatch when it comes to GMOs and more than a few elected officials to “pat” themselves on their backs. The biotech farms and grocery manufacturers of American lobbies are powerful—they wield heavy swords. The congressional and presidential backbone to stand up and protect the environment or our health doesn’t get any of them reelected.

Well, common sense tells me that something is amiss. What is amiss is that our food supply is over processed and laden with empty calories, and the DARK Act does nothing to help consumers (sometimes called constituents) get better information to make more informed healthy food choices. I understand the game. However, it would have been nice if Congress would have changed the rules and required real information through legislation, but they didn’t! Shocking (wink, wink)! It’s sad, but that’s okay, I can live with it. Congress can do all the grandstanding they want. Monsanto, the sugar lobby, and the GMA can spin and spin to their hearts’ content on how their products are safe. That is what they have always done. It is good for their profits, though not good for your health or the environment. The only things that have changed are: 1) the aforementioned companies and lobbies will no longer have to spend millions of dollars of their profits to fight labeling laws state by state and 2) the states, which is you and me, now have less control.

The fact that Congress even remotely toyed with passing a GMO labeling bill tells me that healthy-minded consumers have been putting the “hurt” on some multinational food and chemical companies. All we need to do is keep the pressure on their profit streams and continue to not support their products with our dollars. So in essence, the game hasn’t changed and the players are still the same. It is still us against them.

As for the Klesick family? We are going to continue to support companies that are committed to organic and GMO-free principles. I am not confused or deceived by their advertising or the new DARK Act passed by Congress.

Let’s continue to work together by saying “Yes” to better food companies and we will continue to change our food system for everyone just by eating. The last time I checked, you are free to eat whatever you want, so let’s exercise that freedom one bite at a time.

We are changing the food system!

Farmer Tristan



Recipe: Roasted Beets and Carrots with Rosemary Butter


1 bunch beets, greens removed, peeled and cubed

1 bunch carrots, greens removed, peeled and cubed

3 tablespoons butter or ghee

3 garlic cloves, mashed

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

Sea salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place the beets in a large mixing bowl, and the carrots in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. (Mixing the roots separately keeps the carrots from turning pink from beet juice.)

3. Place the butter or ghee in a microwave-safe coffee mug and add the garlic. Microwave until the butter is melted. Stir in the dried rosemary.

4. Pour half of the melted butter mixture over the beets, and pour half over the carrots. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss each of the root vegetables to coat them with the butter mixture.

5. Dump the beets into the baking dish with the carrots.

6. Roast for 55 minutes, stirring halfway through.

7. Serve.

Recipe adapted from



Know Your Produce: Starkrimson Pears

Starkrimson pears are a summer pear variety that is excellent for fresh eating and salads or paired with a strong cheese like blue cheese or goat cheese. The striking crimson color of Starkrimson pears makes it a great choice for coloring up a green salad.

Unlike most other fruits, pears ripen from the inside out, so by the time they are soft on the outside the inside flesh may be overripe and mealy. Leave unripe pears at room temperature in order to induce ripening. To speed up the ripening process, place pears in a brown paper bag. This traps ethylene (a naturally occurring gas) which pears produce as they ripen. To determine if a pear is ripe, check the neck of the pear daily. Apply gentle pressure with your thumb to the stem end of the fruit. Once it gives slightly to pressure it is ripe and ready to enjoy.

Posted on

Garlic Scapes!

Know Your Produce: Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the beginning of what would be the garlic plant’s flower; if they’re left on the garlic plant, less energy goes towards developing the head of garlic underground. So, by harvesting these scapes, you cooks get an early taste of the garlic to come down the road, and the bulbs can keep developing.

You can use scapes just like you would garlic; their flavor is milder, so you get the nice garlic taste without some of the bite. Use them on top of pizza, in pasta, and as a replacement for garlic in most other recipes.

Store: Store garlic scapes in a plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Store away from your fruit, because garlic is generous with its fragrance, and you may not appreciate biting into a peach and tasting…garlic. Garlic scapes will keep up to two weeks if kept in an airtight container. They freeze well, too–blanched or not–but they tend to lose some of the garlicky heat during storage. You can remove the stalk tip above the pod before using; some people use the whole scape, but the pod and tip are more fibrous than the tender stalk.

Prep: Wash under cool water when ready to use. Whether you’re sautéing, pureeing, or dicing them, garlic scapes are a great addition to many different meals. Great in multiple forms, this ingredient gives many recipes an extra dash of flavor that will compliment a variety of summer dishes like mashed potatoes, stir fry, omelets, pesto, or pasta.

Use: Garlic scapes can be used almost anywhere garlic is; however, keep in mind it is milder in flavor, so you can use more of it per recipe. Scapes tend to get tough and/or lose flavor if overcooked, so start simple. To learn how much cooking is enough and how much is too much, cut scapes to desired lengths and sauté in a little olive oil over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. The end result should be a side dish that is elegant and tasty.

Here’s a recipe for garlic scapes in vegetable stir-fry. Here’s a recipe for oven-roasted corn on the cob with garlic scape butter. 

Posted on

Meat – The Way It Was Meant To Be

A few years ago, I was invited by the director, Robert Kenner, to attend a screening of Food, Inc., in Los Angeles. This invitation was all thanks for my brother who filmed much of the movie. I jumped at the opportunity to see the film.

What struck me the most while viewing the film is that food works best if we let it do what it was created to do. Tomatoes left to ripen on the vine are sweeter, have a much greater nutritional value and a flavor that cannot even compare to the tomatoes that were plucked while still green and left to ripen on the truck while in transit. The same goes for cows.

Cows were created to eat grass. Their digestive systems were designed to consume grass and yet lately, due to ease, cost and control, many cows are being fed grain. Now we all know that grain, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but when cows start eating something other than grass things start to go wrong.

As things have started to go wrong for cows because of their unnatural diet, science has solved the problem by creating antibiotics that combat the diseases that arise. Rather than solving the problem by changing their diet, which would eliminate the need for antibiotics, we are now consuming meat from “cows that are essentially being kept alive by drugs” (

So now that we got that out of the way, let’s focus on the benefits of grass-fed beef. For me the most important part is that it just plain tastes better. Richer, meatier and more complex in flavor. But there are other reasons as well. “The animal itself thrives because it is getting the food it was designed to eat and it converts that food to muscle and fat that is higher in minerals, vitamins, CLAs (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3 fatty acids, and lower in cholesterol and fat” ( Even though grass-fed beef isn’t injected with antibiotics you have a much lower risk of getting diseases associated with beef such as E-Coli and Mad Cow Disease.

To learn more about this and in general where our food comes from, I can’t recommend the film Food, Inc. enough. Also, any of Michael Pollen’s best-selling books, like the Omnivores Dilemma, provide a very thorough look into the world behind the food on our plate.

In the meantime, I highly encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity to purchase and enjoy grass-fed beef. Not only can you eat it in good conscience but you will be thrilled with the wonderful taste that comes from cows that eat a diet they were created for.

by Ashley Rodriquez, Chef, food blogger, and full-time mom.

You can read more of her writings at

Posted on

The Year in Review 2014

The Year in Review                                                                                                                 

Supporting Local Farms:  Since the inception of our home delivery business in 1999, we have always focused on purchasing our fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers first. Every week we contact our farmer friends to find out what they currently have available for our boxes. If we need to find more produce, we then source it from farms outside our area. As your personal farmer, I really appreciate your dedication to the local farm community. With your purchases this year, you have blessed several local farm families:

Apple Cart Fruit, Bartella Farm, Bunny Lane Fruit, Earth Conscious Organics, Blue Heron Farm, Edible Acres, Filaree Farms, Garden Treasures, Hazel Blue Acres, Hedlin Farm, Highwater Farm, Horse-Drawn Produce, Living Rain Farm, Middleton Organic Specialty Foods, Neff Farm, Northwest Greens Farm, Okanogan Producers Marketing Association, Madden Family Orchard, Ponderosa Orchards, Ralph’s Greenhouses, Rent’s Due Ranch, Skagit Flats Farm, Skagit Valley Farm, Viva Farms, and Klesick Family Farm.

Helping Local People:  Another core principle at Klesick Family Farm is to give back to our community. One of the ways we do this is by offering our customers the opportunity to donate a box of good to local area food banks. We currently support food banks in Anacortes, Camano Island, Edmonds, Everett, Lake Stevens, Marysville, Monroe, Oak Harbor, and Stanwood. For every four boxes donated by our customers, we donate an additional box. This year, with the generous support of our customers, Klesick Family Farm delivered over 971 boxes of good (approximately $25,000 worth of quality organic fruits and vegetables) to local area food banks! This number includes the donation of 122 Thanksgiving Holiday Boxes and 33 Christmas Blessing Boxes.

Partnering With Our Customers: this year we also contributed over $7,700 to the Oso mudslide relief and $3,800 to the Pateros fire relief.

There is no way our farm could meet these needs without your help. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of our business. I love meeting local needs with local resources! Thank you for partnering with us.

If you would like to join us in helping provide quality organic produce to local food banks, either give us a call or order a food bank box under the Boxes category of the Product page of our website.

Thank you for a great 2014! We look forward to next year!



Posted on

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,