sweet peppers at the DG farmstand
Skagit Valley “Eat Local Week” is September 14-20. This event is sponsored by the local Slow Food group, and as they say “happens mostly at the end of your fork.” The idea is to encourage people to support the local food economy by visiting farmstands, farmers markets, and local restaurants featuring our valley’s growers and food producers. The week ends with community picnics in five locations.
It’s a good week to have this celebration in our area as the summer and fall harvest seasons start to overlap. We have summer foods like tomatoes and beans along with the autumn harvest of apples and squash. You can always check out what we have at our farm stand on our website. If you’re dining out in our area, we recommend the restaurant we have been selling to for several years – Nell Thorn Restaurant & Pub in nearby La Conner. Check out an earlier post I wrote about them. Their order this week included Sungold tomatoes, cannellini beans, green beans, baby artichokes, eggplant, peppers, sweet corn, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, chard, pears, Burgundy apples, and herbs.
apples in willow baskets
Katherine demonstrating a basket handle wrap.
Katherine had a willow basketry class at Dunbar Gardens this past weekend. We had nine people in the class with a range of experience and age. There were total beginners, people who had made some willow baskets, a couple of handweavers, and two who had taken a previous class with Katherine but using a different technique. There was a neighbor from down the block and someone from Sebastopol, CA. Rounding out the mix were Katherine’s friends and fellow willow basket makers Alex Keggan and Debbie McLelland who came by for awhile to give the weavers some assistance when needed. The class participants had the choice of a round gathering basket or an oval garden basket depending on their experience, or not perhaps! Usually I try to get a group photo at the end of class, but somehow we didn’t get around to it. Finish times and departures varied abit at the end. So instead I put together this short slide show (hoping that nobody involved will object!). You can click on the image for a larger view of the photos.
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willow bean pole
There’s nothing like the flavor of pole beans fresh from the garden. And even more satisfying is growing your own willow rods for making a trellis.
pole beans at Dunbar Gardens
I use some of the larger willow rods for pole beans. Varieties like Harrison’s or Continental Osier produce stout 8 to 10 foot rods. This year I also used some of the three year old peeled willow I showed in an earlier post about peeling willow bark. I put metal fence posts in about every 10 feet and run a heavy gauge wire along the top. Then I insert the dried willow rods several inches in the ground at an angle and tie them with a short piece of twine to the wire.
yellow romano beans
One of our favorite varieties to grow are these Italian yellow romanos – Meraviglia di Venezia.
Rufous Hummingbird on a willow bean pole
An added benefit is the fun watching the birds use the willow as a perch like this hummingbird waiting to zip down to the adjacent zinnias.
baskets and willows at Dunbar Gardens
This past weekend was the sixth annual juried Skagit Artists Together studio tour. This is the second year that Katherine has participated. The tour is kind of an open farm day for us at Dunbar Gardens. Since Katherine actually works on the second floor of our old farmhouse, we display the baskets in our barn and Katherine demonstrates basketry outside. The nice thing for visitors is that they can see the connection between the craft and the materials. We invite people to walk out to see the willow fields. We can explain the process of growing, harvesting, drying, sorting, soaking, and finally weaving of the willows.
baskets in the barn
We had a beautiful two days for the tour. Traffic and sales were less than last year, but that was not surprising given the down economy. We hope folks enjoyed their visit. We were still selling some fresh produce from our garden like we do every weekend, so some people just stopped by for the vegies!
Heidi clowning around