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November 30 Update: North Olympic Peninsula Farmers Convergence & Mixer

The Convergence & Mixer is happening December 3 at the Finnriver Cidery in Chimacum, WA. Here's another update on the preparations.

Finnriver Logo


1:00 to 5:30: Farmer networking & discussion groups.

5:30 to 6:00: Open mike for proposals, ideas, offers.

6:00 to 6:30: Farming Awards Ceremony. Nominate your favorite farmer.

6:30 to 9:30. All Farmer Mixer Dance with the High Waisted Ramblers

* From 2:00 to 5:00 pm, Pretty Gritty and Small Souls will be playing live music on the Finnriver stage.

Farmers & their families, interns, farmworkers, aspiring farmers, local ag folks and friends.

Invitations have been sent to 50 to 100 farmers in Jefferson, Clallam, Kitsap and north Mason Counties. The Convergence has been mentioned in the WSU Coop Extension newsletter and various other internet channels, posters are around and there is a buzz. On December 3 we will find out how far the word has spread and what parts of the farm community it attracts. We are celebrating the local food system as well. Farmers, farm workers, processors, stores, farmers markets and all the people who make the agricultural economy work. We will give awards to people in all these categories. We are up to 36 people going on our Facebook Page and are hoping for 100 to 200 to attend.

North Olympic farm communities of today are a far cry from the bustling small farm communities and economies of the early 1900s with its network of granges and community life.  The farm communities were partially depopulated during World War II and gradually dwindled until the1970s when a new wave of small farmers moved into the scene and gradually co-evolved with the traditional farm families. Today there is a new wave of young farmers entering onto the scene.  There is a sense of revival - A re-weaving of the fabric of rural culture. The fabric of rural culture is always changing but always retains elements of the old. The Convergence is an opportunity to celebrate our part in the warp and weft of our evolving farm culture, tapestry, the old and the new.

Festive gatherings help maintain social connections and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and viewpoints. These strengthen a group’s resilience and allow it to maintain its distinctive life-ways. A thriving farm sector economy improves the overall local economy. The convergence offers an opportunity to make connections which can lead to your farm or ag business running better and being more profitable.

Farmers share the seasonal round as we wind down another growing season - finish root digging, seed cleaning, food processing and packing our bounty into root cellars and pantries, firewood gathering and winterizing. Time to be social around the fire, drink cider and swap stories.

Discussion Groups Schedule:

The discussion groups will be held in the Farmhouse Co-Lab. A warm, dry location where we won’t have to contend with the music.

2:00 - 3:00.

* Government Agriculture Policy

Mark Jochems, Jefferson County Planning Commission, District 2, will be on hand to answer questions and inform us on the ways we can have input.  Land use, housing, zoning, etc. Members of the Policy Committee of the Jefferson County Local Food System Council will be there and the Olympic Peninsula Regenerative Agriculture Alliance has a Position Paper they can introduce. We will compile a list of ideas from the participants.

3:00 - 4:00

* Menu for the Future.

Judy Alexander. Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council.

At this 1-hour offering, learn how you might host, or join, an existing Menu for the Future course this Jan/Feb or March.  Each group will have a farmer, fisherman, cheese maker, or other food producer as a participant to inform the dialogue as to what it means to depend on your local community of eaters for your livelihood.  Books cost $20, no other fees associated with taking the course.  User friendly syllabus means no "teacher" is necessary.  Read, discuss, digest, and act on what you find of value from the process.  Books will be available on Dec 3rd, and are also sold at:  Chimacum Corner Store, Jefferson County Library, and the PT Food Coop member services desk.  See more about course content at:  https://www.nwei.org/discussion-course-books/menu-for-the-future/

* Herb Growers Cooperative for Northwest Washington. Introduction to the current process. Accepting ideas and founding members.

4:00 - 5:00.

* Farmland accessibility and the rising cost of land.

Proposed by Alexa Belbling, Moonlight Farm.

* Local Seed Discussion Group.

Tessa Gowan, Seed Dreams, Steve Habersetzer, Oatsplanter Seeds, et al.

Suggested but not scheduled.  We can do these if there is enough interest.

* Crop pest issues in the North Olympic peninsula.  Current situation, organic controls and ways to improve the situation. Apple maggot, codling moth, drysophila fruit fly, others.

* Bulk tree & shrub purchase.  The Conservation District’s spring tree sale is a great place to get native trees.  Are you looking for trees or shrubs they don’t carry?  Want to do a group buy? Windbreaks, hedgerows, tree crops, berries,

* Other discussion groups can be scheduled at the event.

Farming Awards: 

Who would you like to honor for their farming, for service to the farm community and the local food economy?  Get them to attend. 

Open Mic period:

The floor is open for ideas, proposals, announcements, what have you.

Farm Film Festival. Winter of 2017/2018

This is in the works and details and movies will be announced at the Convergence. 

Children welcome. Finnriver is always open to children. Terry Du Beau will be on hand with some activities for children aged 6 to 12.  Terry is the after-school coordinator at Swan School.

Bring your business cards, catalogs, price lists, posters, handbills, promotional material.  We will have a table space and bulletin board for people to use.  There will be displays by Friends of the Trees Society, Jefferson County Local Food System Council, Port Townsend Food Coop, Olympic Peninsula Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, Jefferson County Herbalists Guild, Northwest Washington Herb Growers Cooperative, WSU County Extension, Farmstand Local Foods, and more.

Bring some farm products to reward the band. No cover charge but we will have donation jars out. 

Lend a hand at the convergence. Can you help out for a few hours with set-up, registration, sign-making, etc? Some of this will be done at Finn River on Saturday. Contact Michael.

Sponsors include: Friends of the Trees Society, Abakis Music, Jefferson County Local Food System Council, Port Townsend Food Coop, WSU County Extension, Olympic Peninsula Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, and Nash’s Organic Produce.

Contact: Michael Pilarski
360-643-9178. [email protected]

Previous details are at: 

Facebook page www.tinyurl.com/farmermixer 



Sponsors include: Friends of the Trees Society, Abakis Music, Jefferson County Local Food System Council, Port Townsend Food Coop, WSU County Extension, Olympic Peninsula Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, and Nash’s Organic Produce...


November 18 Update: North Olympic Peninsula Farmers Convergence & Mixer

The Convergence & Mixer is happening December 3 at the Finnriver Cidery in Chimacum, WA. Here's an update on the preparations.

Finnriver LogoSomeone mentioned at the November 13 showing of the farm film “Sustainable” in Port Townsend that back in the height of the Grange movement that it was typical for 200 people to show up for a grange meeting, potluck and dance. For all of our modern communication technology it is likely that farmers are less in touch with each other today than they were 100 years ago.

Today, what are the events that bring the farming community together on the North Olympic Peninsula? The Farmers Markets for one, but the farmers hardly ever leave their booths to talk to other farmers. The County Fair brings a lot of the farming community together.  How much does the County Fair farm community overlap with the organic farm community?  There are various plant sales and garden shows which bring together the horticultural subset of farmers.  There are the lavender farmers in Clallam County, what else?

We are trying something new with the Farmers  Convergence & Mixer.
Good networking & good dancing.

Farmer Mixer Band

The High Waisted Ramblers and Joanne Pontrello, locally-renowned square dance caller, will play some great dance music. Joanne, Davy and friends are well connected in the local farming community and we are happy to support a local band.  Joanne will call some square dances plus they will play Two Step and Cajun music.

Discussion Groups

We plan to have one or several discussion groups happen every hour on the hour in the afternoon. The Convergence schedule is still taking shape and we want your input.

Discussion group periods

2:00 - 3:00

3:00 - 4:00

4:00 - 5:00

Each period can start a bit late and end a bit early to accommodate the back-to-back schedule. Everything is just a few steps away at the Finnriver venue. If a subset of a discussion group wants to move to a small table to continue their discussion and planning they can do so.


* Local Seed Discussion Group.

Proposed by Tessa Gowan, Seed Dreams.

* Farmland accessibility and the rising cost of land.

Proposed by Alexa Belbling, Moonlight Farm.

* Menu for the Future.

Proposed by Judy Alexander. Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council.

* Agriculture Policy

Proposed by Michael Pilarski.

Government agriculture policy discussion. Zoning and farmworker housing will be two components. This would be an opportunity to write up a list of proposals for policy change at the city, county, state and federal government levels. In particular, statements on behalf of farmers and farming to Jefferson’s County’s 20-year plan which they are about to adopt. Here is a chance to give some input. What would us farmers like to see?  Perhaps the discussion can come up with a short statement by farmers to the County Commissioners, Planning Board and citizens. A general statement that can be ratified by the larger group during the event. While it is true that farmers are a very small voting block, we have the support of all the people who like quality food, local food and support local food and local farmers.  This is a very big constituency. Indeed the foodies have been called the biggest social movement in the US today.  Jefferson County farmers should rally the support of this large constituency on our behalf.  A good public statement would help do so.  What’s already been done to address farmers’ concerns in this planning? We anticipate having someone from the county commissioners and planning board’s offices attend to be part of the discussion and hear farmer’s viewpoints.

* What discussions would you like to see?

Farming Awards Ceremony

This is a Paper Plate Award Ceremony.  We will have paper plates emblazoned with the words:

2017 North Olympic Peninsula Farmers Convergence & Mixer
In acknowledgement of their contribution to agriculture and the food community.

There will be space for you to write down the person(s) name and what the award is for. The nominator will make a short speech and present the award to the recipient.  The recipient can give a short speech and receive the applause of the group.  This is a way to recognize those folks who have been doing good work in feeding people and agriculture in general: food production, processing, distribution, conservation, sustainability or other radical acts.

Priority will be given to awards for individuals who are present at the convergence.  If time allows we can give awards to people who are not present.  There will be a table where the paper plate awards are available to fill out and a sign-up list.  There will be a calligrapher on hand to assist.

Lend a hand at the convergence.

Some of the positions needing filled are:

* Registration.

* Ribbon coordinator. Ribbon armbands with different colors for farmers, farmworkers, buyers, organizations . . .

* Farming Awards Ceremony facilitator.

* Award calligrapher.

* Food donation table feng shui (for the band/staff). Keep it organized.

Contact: Michael Pilarski

360-643-9178[email protected]


Previous details are at: 

Facebook page www.tinyurl.com/farmermixer 



Sponsors include: Friends of the Trees Society, Port Townsend Food Coop. Abakis Music, Jefferson County Local Food System Council, Olympic Peninsula Regenerative Agriculture Alliance, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Nash’s Organic Produce, WSU County Extension...



Guest Blog Post: A New Armistice Day


A good essay by David Swanson.


Photo of the 1st Armistice DayExactly at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 99 years ago, people across Europe suddenly stopped shooting guns at each other. Up until that moment, they were killing and taking bullets, falling and screaming, moaning and dying. Then they stopped, on schedule. It wasn’t that they’d gotten tired or come to their senses. Both before and after 11 o’clock they were simply following orders. The Armistice agreement that ended World War I had set 11 o’clock as quitting time.

And then the world had a party, the likes of which we have not seen or dreamed of — a party now in bad need of a sequel.

Each year, for a lot of years, there was a remembrance on November 11th. The U.S. Congress called Armistice Day a holiday to “perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations,” a day “dedicated to the cause of world peace.” When churches rang their bells at 11:00, that’s what they meant. And they meant it right up until the war on Korea, the one the North Koreans all still remember with shudders of horror. And then Congress turned Armistice Day into Veterans Day, and veterans into props for marketing more wars and a permanent state of war preparations.

What we need now is a brand new armistice. Pick a day and a time, I don’t care when. Pick 11-11-11 again — why not? — and plan a party like it’s Armistice 99.

I’m serious. What would happen if, at that hour, the United States and Saudi Arabia ceased bombing Yemen? What if the ports opened and the food and the doctors and the journalists rushed into that hell to begin undoing the damage? What would be the harm in that?

What if, at that very hour, guns ceased to fire, drones ceased to buzz, bombs and white phosphorus ceased to fall across the world, in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Niger, Congo, Sudan, Mexico, Kenya, Turkey? What would be the harm? Who would miss the carnage? Who would object to the biggest force for death and disease and famine and environmental destruction taking a pause? Who would protest an end to the central justification for secretive and authoritarian government?

Armistice Day 99 would mean a miraculous transformation in the lives of many millions of people through the ending of wars we hardly hear about, plus the end of all the threats of new wars that we do hear about. New wars cannot be threatened in the Armistice Era. Instead, the bases and troops and weapons and provocations that risk the new wars have to be shut down, brought home, and converted into beneficial and sustainable enterprises.

Instead of Veterans For Peace groups hiring lawyers to argue for their right to participate in Veterans Day parades — part of the annual tradition for many years now — they could hire musicians for the celebration!

Kurt Vonnegut, a U.S. World War II veteran, wrote in 1973: “Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not. So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things.”

Let’s create such things anew.