Why you should vote NO on measure 81 – The GillNet Ban

Ballot Measure 81 is deeply flawed and will cause harm to fishing communities on the lower Columbia River, through economic loss and denial of traditional lifestyles and foodways. Hipfish Monthly strongly endorses a no vote on measure 81.

Measure 81, which would ban the use of gillnets by nontribal commercial fishermen in the inland waters of Oregon, but would allow the use of seine nets (which have been illegal for non tribal commercial fisheries on the Columbia River since 1948) is the most recent clash in the long and unnecessary battle between recreational and commercial fishermen over allocation of salmon in the lower Columbia River. This effort to outlaw gillnetting in the Columbia River is the first attempt in several years with any real teeth to it. Measure 81, ingenuously titled the “Protect Our Salmon Act”, is the brainchild of Texas-based Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and other organizations like Stop Gillnetting Now. These groups were unable to raise enough funds to back the initiative within Oregon. 89% of the funds used to generate signatures for Measure 81 were from a donation of more than $500,000 from one resident of Washington State.

The biggest problem with using the initiative process to change fishery regulations with respect to the Columbia River is that the new regulations would apply only to Oregon commercial fisherman, wholesalers, and processors. If Measure 81 passes, Washington non-tribal commercial fishermen will continue use gillnets to harvest salmon and sturgeon in the Columbia River.

Another major problem with Measure 81 is that although the authors would have you believe otherwise, it merely boils down to an allocation shift of harvest (and the accompanying incidental bycatch) from the gillnet fisheries to the recreational fisheries. Measure 81 will in no way contribute to the recovery of endangered stocks of Columbia River fish.

The issues surrounding the Columbia River fisheries are complex. The fisheries are jointly managed by state (Oregon and Washington), federal, and tribal agencies whose overall goal is to conserve threatened and endangered fish populations and at the same time, provide maximum opportunities for both recreational and commercial fishing in the Columbia River. Individual fishing seasons are set by the Columbia River Interstate Compact, a partnership between the fish and wildlife departments of the states of Oregon and Washington who work together to craft concurrent regulations that apply to the Columbia River fisheries. When you average out the total allowable harvest allowed to non-tribal fisheries, recreational fisheries are allocated 80% of the catch and commercial fisherman get 20%.

Confusing the issue further, in reaction to Measure 81, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has come up with a somewhat more equitable plan that would phase out non-tribal gillnetting on the main channels of the Columbia River and require the development of alternative fishing methods such as purse seining for commercial use. Under this plan, commercial gillnetting in off-channel areas such as Youngs Bay would continue. (See sidebar for more information on Governor Kitzhaber’s plan.)

In response CCA and many of the other organizations that originally backed Measure 81, feel that they have already won, have stepped back from their campaign and are now offering support for the Governor’s plan. Some groups, including The Association for Northwest Steelheaders, have even submitted Arguments in Opposition to the Measure 81 section of the Oregon Voter’s Pamphlet.
Despite this, Measure 81 is still on the ballot.

The hot button issue with respect to both sport and commercial fisheries in the Columbia River is the incidental take (death and/or harvest) of protected and endangered native (wild) salmon during the seasons when hatchery or healthy wild runs (and there are some) are targeted.

Disguised as conservational rhetoric, Section 1 of Measure 81 declares that gillnets “indiscriminately kill or injure large numbers of endangered wild salmon and other non-target fish and wildlife species.” This and other statements in Section 1 of Measure 81 are inaccurate and misleading, blaming the commercial fishing industry for the decline and extinction of salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River. In actuality, the current major stresses on the long declining wild salmon population in the Upper Columbia River are the dams, particularly those without fish passages like Grand Coulee Dam, whose installation ended the historic runs of huge “June hogs” (Chinook salmon from the spring run that individually could weigh as much as 100 pounds). In contrast, the greatest threat to the native salmon population in the Lower Columbia River is loss of habitat due to urban development, logging, and pollution.

The authors of Measure 81 would have you believe that sport fishermen do not harm or kill any endangered salmon or steelhead. “Every fishery that releases fish has a mortality rate,” says Hobe Kytr, spokesperson for Salmon for All. The mortality rates for by catch in the commercial fisheries has been extensively studied, but according to Kytr, there has never been a mortality study done on the sports fishery.

In addition, the passage of Measure 81 may mean that “only Oregonians who purchase salmon tags will have access to locally sourced Columbia River fish,” stated Kytr. This will remove salmon from the plates of many Portland locavores.

Kytr contributes a shocking fact with respect to Measure 81. “Sport fishermen contribute only 1% (through purchase of fishing licenses)
toward the vastly expensive hatchery bill. 85% of the money for hatchery programs comes from the Federal Government. The fact is that taxpayers, all of us, everyone in the United States, is paying that hatchery bill. Why should the sport fishermen, who constitute less than 6% of the population, get all of the fish? It’s all about greed.”

In other words, everyone in the United States owns those Columbia River hatchery fish and should be able to get a chance to eat them. Sports
fishermen are basically getting a free ride, yet they still want more.

As well as preventing Oregon commercial fishermen from using gillnets in the inland waters of Oregon, Measure 81 would also ban the sale in Oregon of any fish caught by Washington fishermen on the Columbia River. It is not clear whether the confederated tribes could continue to sell their catch in Oregon, or if processors in Washington could sell fish to wholesalers, retailers, or restaurants in Oregon.

Conceivably, it could become illegal for consumers to drive across the bridge to Washington, purchase gillnet caught salmon, and bring them back to Oregon. The only option remaining to an Oregon consumer might be to eat the fish in Washington, and “smuggle” it home in your belly.

Negative economic impacts from the passage of measure 81 would not be felt by commercial fishermen alone. It would also affect seafood processors, restaurants fish dealers, retailers, and.

Although brothers Mark and Steve Fick, lifelong Astoria residents, are not descended from a long line of commercial fishermen like some families on the North Coast, they both derive all or much of their livelihoods from salmon in the Columbia River. Mark, a Columbia River gillnetter since 1977, said of Measure 81: “It makes me angry that this is portrayed as some sort of conservation issue when it has nothing to do with conservation. It’s a share grab from one group to another. A lot of people don’t understand how that works, that both sport and commercial fishermen are killing endangered and protected fish. Measure 81 would shift all of the allowed killing of endangered and protected fish to the sport industry.

Hooks stress and kill fish, too. If we are going to be having gear restrictions, we should probably be doing it sport-wise too and get rid of hooks, they’re deadly. ” Steve Fick, owner operator of Fishhawk Fisheries, a small seafood processing plant on the waterfront in downtown Astoria, pulls no punches when talking about Measure 81. “CCA, has set forth a goal to eliminate the oldest commercial fishery west of the Rockies. This should be an Oregon issue, for Oregonians, and by Oregonians. This affects our community in so many ways. Socially, part of the fabric of this community is a natural resource-based economy. Philanthropically, a lot of the local funding for scholarships, youth programs, and non-tax based funding programs for schools comes from natural resource-based industries like commercial salmon fishing.”

In further discussion of the issue, Steve Fick is knowledgeable and unapologetically blunt. “With CCA, and the other organizations behind Measure 81, it’s all about greed. It’s not about fairness. It’s not about environmental issues, sustainability, or the recovery of the fishery. It’s about them catching more fish. I have worked very closely with some of these organizations to recover salmon so that we could all share in the benefits. Now, they want to get rid of us. It’s a slimy backstabbing approach [to fisheries regulation]. This isn’t what being an Oregonian is about.”

He continues, “All of the people that work in this community, the people that work in the processing plants, the support industries on down to the latte stands. We are all of under attack by a bunch of bullies. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Salmon is a significant part of my seafood processing, it’s something that can’t be replaced. It will have a devastating affect on a lot of people with full-time jobs.”

Lisa (née Tarabochia) and Gordon Clement own Clemente’s, an upscale seafood restaurant located in downtown Astoria. The menu at Clemente’s is centered around Columbia River salmon for much of the year. Salmon harvested by members of Lisa’s family, using gillnets. For at least four generations, some members of the Tarabochia family have made their primary living as commercial fishermen, often on the Columbia River. Lisa Clement stated, “If Measure 81 passes, it would affect us tremendously because we are a restaurant that sources from a small radius around us, that’s central to our belief system. We believe that it is very important to eat what is harvested and caught locally. With Measure 81, we would have no opportunity to obtain the local fish that our customers desire. I would not be able to serve salmon any other time than during June and July when I can get fresh red salmon, caught by my family in Bristol Bay, Alaska.”

Industries that rely on business from Oregon gillnet fisherman would also be hurt by Measure 81. Kurt Englund, of Englund Marine and Industrial Supply in Astoria believes that passage of Measure 81 will “greatly affect our business. We serve the gillnet industry, if that goes away, we would have to find another industry’s worth of business to replace it, which is extremely hard to do, or we lay people off. Having to cut staff back would be the worst thing for us. We would experience loss of sales, and we would also have dead inventory. We sell nets and many other items specific to gillnetting, there would still be some business from

Washington and tribal gillnetters, but there would also then be a glut of used gear for sale by out-of business Oregon gillnetters. We also sell boat parts, boots, raingear, and knives to gillnetters and would experience loss of sales in those categories. This is a major deal for us.”

Small businesses, offering specific services to the gillnet industry, will be profoundly impacted by Measure 81. Columbia Pacific Marine Works, located near Pier 1 at the Port of Astoria owned by business partners Bob Zakrzewski and Lasse Vedenoja. The shop specializes in the repair and installation of stern drives on boats. “We bought this business in ’97”, stated Vedenoja, “a friend of mine used to own it and he passed on. A guy that works for us has been with us ever since, we go back 15 years.” Zakerzewski said that, “70% of our business is from the gillnet industry. If Measure 81 goes through, we’re done, we will be out of business and will have to close our doors. That’s four full-time
employees who will be out of work.”

The possibility of lost incomes, lost livelihoods, even lost traditional and favorite foods is tough to swallow for a small town like Astoria,
whose entire economy was once based on fishing, shipping, and logging. It doesn’t have to happen. Please vote no on Ballot Measure 81. If you are in favor of, or are still undecided on this issue, please take a careful look at pages 69-73 of your Voter’s Pamphlet before you vote. The list of persons and organizations who submitted Arguments of Opposition is surprisingly long and includes the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes, the Oregon restaurant and Lodging Association, and many others too numerous to list here.

Hipfish Monthly gives a special shout of “Thank You!” To Hobe Kytr of Salmon for All, who although not quoted extensively in this article, was instrumental in clearing up much of this writer’s confusion with respect to the regulation, biology, and recovery of Columbia River fisheries. Any errors herein should be attributed to the author and not Kytr or Salmon for All. For more information on a subject far vaster than the scope of this article can do proper justice, visit salmon for All’s No on 81 online FAQ page at: frequently-asked-questions.

Measure 81 in Brief

Section 2 ORS 508.775- (1) Amends the portion of the law requiring a vessel permit in order for an individual to operate a vessel in the Columbia River gillnet salmon fishery to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful to use a gillnet or tangle net to take salmon, steelhead, or other fish in the inland waters of the state of Oregon.“ Removes the portion of the law allowing Washington permit holders to land salmon caught in the Columbia River in Oregon.

(2) Amends the portion of the law that makes it unlawful for a fish buyer or processor to buy fish taken in the Columbia River gillnet fishery from someone not having a vessel permit to: “Notwithstanding any other provision of the commercial fishing laws, it is unlawful for a wholesaler, canner or buyer to buy or receive salmon, steelhead, or other fish taken by a gillnet or tangle net from the inland waters of the state of Oregon. “ (3) Amends the law such that the changes in (1) and (2) above do not apply to tribal fisheries.

Section 3 ORS 509.216 (a) Requires the commission to “permit the use of seines for the taking of salmon in the Columbia River.” (b) Allows the commission to permit the use of “fixed fishing gear for the taking of salmon by commercial purposes from the Columbia River” You can download a PDF file of the complete text of Measure 81 at: uploads/2012/…/Measure-81-text.pdf. To see
the full text of the current applicable laws, go to: and enter the ORS number of interest (e.g. 509.216)

Governor Kitzhaber’s Plan
On August 9, 2012, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sent a letter to the heads of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), outlining how he would like Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission to resolve the long conflict between recreational and commercial fishermen in the Columbia River. He stated that changes in the management of the Columbia River Fisheries must be made and that changes (like Measure 81) that do not benefit both recreational and commercial interests are unacceptable.

Kitzhaber requested that the process begin immediately so that the rule making process can be completed by the end of 2012.

Key elements of Kitzhaber’s plan include: Phasing out non-tribal gillnets in the mainstem of the Columbia River during a defined transition period of a few years.

Reserving the mainstem of the Lower Columbia River for recreational fishing only. Segregating gillnetters to off-channel areas such as Young’s Bay and Blind Slough.

Redistributing the commercial share of mainstem fishery harvest impacts to recreational fisheries.

Enhancing off channel fisheries by increasing hatchery production in those areas and changing/expanding boundaries and/or creating new locations where commercial fishing will be allowed.

Development of alternative selective fishing gear (e.g. purse seining) for commercial mainstem fisheries.

Working jointly with the State of Washington to develop concurrent policies. (Laws enacted under Measure 81 would apply to Oregon only, causing differing policies in a joint use area.)


FARMSTOCK II Sept 1-2, Fred’s Farm Extravaganza – Local Food, Music and Fun

THE SECOND annual Farmstock Festival is coming soon to a farm near you. On September 1 and 2, Fred’s Homegrown and KMUN Coast Community Radio are teaming up again for a weekend of local food, music, and fun at Fred’s Farm in Naselle, WA.

Farmstock is the brainchild of former chef and restaurateur turned farmer Fred Johnson and is held on the grounds of his historic farm. It is a harvest celebration of everything that is fresh and local.

“We’re inviting all aspects of the local food infrastructure to participate in Farmstock, growers, processors, and consumers. Ultimately, we need to keep our food dollars local, build a local food system of production, processing, and distribution,” says Johnson.

He believes we can start this process by forming personal relationships between stakeholders at social/educational events like Farmstock. “It’s an active investigation into a localized food system.”

Although the premise of Farmstock is serious, the end result promises to be enjoyable. Good local food, good local music, fun and conversation in a beautiful setting. It’s a chance to gather with old friends, make new ones, and maybe learn something along the way.

As of Hipfish press time, the Farmstock schedule has not yet been finalized. A summary of event highlights follows:

Last year, Kim Angelis was a crowd-pleasing hit. Angelis returns to the Farmstock stage with her husband Josef and the bellydancers. Other Confirmed acts as of Hipfish press time include Nice Nice, Michael Hurley, Anitize, Sweet Young Thing, and Ma Barley, with more likely to sign on. Catch live music at Farmstock from 10:30am – 10pm on Saturday.

This year, a wide variety of free workshops will be presented on both Saturday and Sunday. Subjects to be covered include Beekeeping, Seed Saving. Eating Locally Seasoning Globally, Community Gardens, Yoga, North Coast Food Web Mobile Gardens, Blacksmithing, Biochar, Maritime Gardening Challenges, Lager and All-Grain Beer Brewing, Tinctures 101, Farm Habitat Restoration, Growing and Using Lavender, Making Fruit Wines, and more. Have a skill or interest you would like to share by offering a workshop? A few slots are still available. Contact Carol Carver at There is no registration for workshops, just show up. A schedule will be available closer to event time at the Farmstock page on Facebook.

Vendors will exhibit and sell their wares on Saturday only from 10am on. Expect to find handmade wares ranging from arts and crafts to consumable items like produce, pickles, tinctures, and more. KMUN will hold a raffle for a quilt and other items. Farmstock t-shirts and totes are available for $15. If you would like to vend at Farmstock, contact Julie Tennis at

An informal food court will be located near the barn kitchen all day Saturday and Sunday morning. Tasty offerings will showcase ingredients from farms in the area. Hungry festival goers will be able to purchase pizzas, vegetable tempura, BBQ pork, vegetable kebabs, seafood, non alcoholic beverages, sweet treats and much more. Don’t forget the ever-popular Fort George Beer Garden, open on Saturday.

Fred Johnson will demonstrate cooking techniques with Oregon pink shrimp, kindly donated by Bornstein Seafood, on Saturday afternoon. Additional food demos are in the works.

Joanne Rideout and Tom Hartland of KMUN hold the raffle quilt.

The special Farm Dinner at 1pm on Sunday will highlight local ingredients. The menu includes salmon, spicy green beans, Mexican corn pudding, roasted root vegetables, sautéed greens, salads, dessert, and more. Tickets for the dinner are available at KMUN and are $25 until August 31, $35 at the door (cash or checks only at the door).

Sponsors are wanted to assist with funding onsite preparation and infrastructure prior to Farmstock. Donations will go toward covering the cost of mowing the fields to be used for parking and camping during the festival and will help feed the army of volunteers. Up-front costs are expected to be around $1000 – $1500. Sponsors will be given food credits that they can spend at Farmstock and their names will be included on special limited-edition Farmstock t-shirts. Email Fred Johnson at for more information.

Volunteers are wanted to help with parking, food and beverage service, general schlepping, cleanup, etc. FMI or to sign up, email

For the Farmstock flyer, driving directions, and event schedule, go to: or visit the Farmstock page on Facebook.

Admission to Farmstock is free, parking is $5 per vehicle, camping (no hookups) is $20 per vehicle. Camping spaces are available on a first come, first served basis. All monetary transactions onsite at Farmstock are by cash or check only. An ATM is located about one mile away at Bank of the Pacific in downtown Naselle. Festival goers are encouraged to leave their dogs at home.

Proceeds from fees and tickets go to support Farmstock and KMUN. Fred Johnson raises vegetables and organically certified hay on his 70-acre historic farm, located at 201 S. Valley Rd., Naselle, WA. He is especially known for his tomatoes and greens. He sells produce to local restaurants, and to the public via CSA subscription, and at farmers markets. He caters weddings and other events at his farm and owns a hardwood flooring business. Visit him online at


It’s a Mean, Green, Flying Machine… Highlife Adventures ZipLine Tours


I look over at my guide Samantha who clips me to the cable and indicates that I am ready to go. I walk down the graveled incline until my feet leave the ground and I begin to glide. I pick up speed, and am swooping down a grassy slope adjacent to a small lake, shouting with joy, accompanied by the ziiizzzzzzzz sound of the pulley wheel rolling along the cable.

I am surprised as I flash over a small inlet in the lake and out of the corner of my eye catch a glimpse of a plastic pink flamingo in the water below me. Then, it’s time for me to pick up my feet and come in for a landing as guide Haley eases me to a stop. I stand up and Haley unclips me from the cable. It is my first ever experience on a zip line and it is over all too soon. Fortunately, my tour has just begun, as there are seven more zip lines to experience at High Life Adventures, a newly opened guided zip line course in Warrenton.

High Life Adventures is situated on 30 acres a mile southwest of the Astoria/Warrenton Airport. Owners/operators Lancey and David Larson have lived on the property for 22 years, raising three children there. The site is a secret little gem, all but invisible from the adjacent highway, with forested slopes surrounding a beautiful small lake.

David Larson, longtime operator of a logging and excavating business, has been playing with zip lines since childhood. He installed a zip line over the lake on the property twelve years ago, and had tinkered with it over the years, but it was his wife Lancey who came up with the idea for High Life Adventures.

“We had gone to Hawaii about a year and a half ago, and did a zip line tour there. It dawned on me when we were flying home that we had the perfect piece of property for that sort of business. When we got home, I started researching the zip line industry. We went to Boston to attend a conference on Challenge Course technology and zip lining. We took several classes, then hired a consulting firm and an engineer and went to work.”

David Larson put in a lot of time on the construction of the zip lines. “We started laying out where the lines would go in, finding the high spots on our property. We used a range finder to figure out the angles where the zip lines work the best. We were able to fasten the zip lines to our heavy equipment [from the logging and excavating business] and pre-tested them before we built any structures. We built everything according to industry standards, then added a few things that we feel actually make it safer.“

Shane Dean, the Larson’s son-in-law, stepped up to plate to help with the most difficult part of the process, obtaining the necessary permits from Clatsop County. “With waiting periods, and notices that were sent out to neighbors and more, it took a year, ” says David. “The County was very helpful.”

Fifteen months and many hours of hard work later, the zip line course was complete. High Line Adventures began offering tours this May, three weeks ahead of schedule.

Recently, I was complaining to a friend that I have reached a stage in my life where I don’t seem to have adventures any more. Soon afterward, a visit to High Life Adventures caused me to retract that statement. Even a reformed adrenaline junkie turned couch potato like me can get a thrilling, but safe adventure fix by riding a zip line. Having a moderate fear of heights gives me that extra squirt of happy hormone rush.

Cathy Nist’s Big Zipline Adventure

The zip line course at High Life Adventures is designed to introduce the participant gradually to the concept of flying through the air while suspended from a cable. My fellow travelers and I geared up by donning climbing harnesses and helmets. Attached to each harness is a trolley, a framed pulley wheel that clips onto the zip line, a steel cable mounted at an incline. Riders start at the top of the slope and are propelled by gravity to the other end of the line.

After a short orientation, we walked over to Alder, which at 400 feet long with an average height of 15 feet above ground is the bunny slope of zip lines. The course progresses through a sequence of increasingly challenging traverses around and over a seven-acre lake, eight zip lines that add up to nearly a mile of gliding opportunity. As we continued through the tour, the lines became progressively longer and higher.

The fifth line, Hemlock, which launches off of a steel and wooden tower on the side of a hill, was a real white-knuckler for me. I had to open a little gate in the railing and step off into thin air to get going. It took a real leap of faith to do it, and it was not easy. I had to trust that the equipment was going to hold me (it did), that the cable wouldn’t break (it didn’t), and that I wouldn’t flip out of the harness and auger headfirst into the ground ever so far below (I didn’t). Nonetheless, I believe I screamed something about peeing my pants as I rocketed toward a narrow-looking alleyway through the trees on the opposite slope (I didn’t). What a rush!

The Larsons are justifiably proud of their green business, the zip line course is pleasingly landscaped and although the site is an active tree farm and has been selectively logged over the years, it doesn’t look it. Over 2100 trees have been planted on the property since 2009. In construction of the zip line course, as much recycled material as possible was used. (The zip line cables are new as are the harnesses, trolleys, and safety equipment). The zip line support structures and the office/shop building were built from lumber salvaged from trees blown down during the 2007 storm. The steel pilings used are repurposed drill casings and oil tank supports obtained from the Port of Astoria. Best of all, the tour itself has a low carbon footprint. No fossil fuels are expended as visitors walk between zip line stations, hiking up moderate slopes on graveled trails and roads. Gravity does the rest.

I asked Lancey if it was difficult to open up her family’s personal property to the public. “No,” she replied, “because we enjoy watching people have a good time. I love it when we see people zipping across and they’re laughing and whooping and hollering.” Indeed.

The final three zip lines of the tour are by far the most enjoyable and exciting. Huckleberry, at 930’ really gave me the feeling of flying for the first time as I zoomed down another grassy then shot out across the lake. Maple took me so low over the water that I was able to lean back and skim the water with my hand. I’m told that the guides can pull on the cable, causing a rider’s lowest body parts to bounce in and out of the lake. I chose to not to finish up with a wet butt. Spruce and Willow are tandem lines that stretch 1200’ from the top of the aforementioned tower, crossing the length of the lake. We were encouraged to race each other to the finish. As I outweigh my teenaged opponent by more than 100 pounds, I zoomed past him without even intending to, ziiizzzzzzzzing to a finish as my feet churned up twin rooster tails of gravel.

Lancey Larson
Lancey Larson, co-owner and High Priestess of Highline Adventures.

After two hours of zipping, I was tired and happy. My blood was zinging through my veins and I felt as if I were addicted to a new drug. I had watched my fellow “zippers” conquer their fears and gain confidence in them. That’s a powerful thing to see.

While I don’t plan to jump out of an airplane anytime soon, I know now that it’s never too late to experience adventure as long as I am willing to keep myself open to it. Scratch that off the bucket list!

Unlock your inner Tinker Bell or Peter Pan at…

High Life Adventures
33136 SE Hwy 105
Warrenton, OR  97146

Tours are available hourly from 9am – 4pm, seven days a week, rain or shine, March through October. Tours take approximately two hours. Participants must weigh between 60 and 300 pounds and be fit enough to take a moderate hike. Wear comfortable clothing and closed-toed walking shoes.

Cost: $99 for adults, $69 for children 15 and under with a 10% discount for parties of 10 or more, and a 20% discount for parties of 20 or more. Walk-in tours may be available, but it’s best to book ahead. Watch videos and book tours online at


A little Egg-ucation.

THIS one is for you egg eaters out there in Hipfishland who need a little help to make an informed choice when it comes to buying eggs. Today, there are several options in the egg section at your local grocery store beyond the factory-produced “offspring” of Big Ag. My purpose here is not to be preachy about whether you should or should not eat eggs. Instead, I will explore some of the common terms used when marketing alternatively produced eggs. Egg Carton 101, so to speak.

Many of us (myself included) like to imagine that the eggs we eat come from happy chickens that have the run of a fenced in yard all day, then hop onto a roost in the coop to go night-night. For most of the eggs available in the grocery isles, that little fantasy couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The majority of eggs come from factory-farmed hens that are raised in battery cages. This is an industrial agricultural confinement system consisting of multiple tiers of cages in a barn or shed. Under the worst circumstances, chickens are crammed in the cages in such numbers that their movement is restricted. Their diet is manipulated to maximize egg production, sometimes forcing repeated molting. To minimize pecking behavior, their beaks may be trimmed, a procedure considered to cause acute pain and distress with possible chronic pain for the all-too short lifetime of the birds. To keep the bored hens from pecking each other to death, the light intensity is kept low. These birds never get to experience fresh air and sunlight. Lack of exercise and the calcium demand of egg production often lead to osteoporosis in battery-caged hens. One study estimates that at least 25% of battery-caged chickens suffer from bone fractures due to osteoporosis. Laying hens can endure such a lifestyle for about a year before egg production decreases and the birds are “retired.”

Horrifying as this industry is, it is regulated with respect to the minimum amount of space that each bird is allowed. Ever so slowly, regulations are changing toward requiring more humane conditions for the chickens. Several countries (unfortunately not the US) have outlawed battery-cage methods of egg production and the EU has been phasing out the process over several years, culminating in 2012.

The good news is that there are more humane and healthy methods now in use for egg production. Egg distributors take advantage of public interest in humane conditions for animals by marketing their products using terms such as “cage-free”, “free-range”, or “natural.” Some of the terminology used on egg cartons refers to the chicken’s diet, others to the chicken’s living conditions.

Cage-Free means that the hens are raised in barns, but they are not caged and can move about. This allows them experience some of the things chickens like to do: flap their wings, scratch at the floor, take dust baths, get a little exercise. They might or might not still be fed hormones, have their beaks trimmed, and live in the dark.

“Free Range” as read on an egg carton doesn’t really mean that chickens get free access to the great outdoors. The US Dept. of Agriculture requires only that the birds have access to outside part of the day, yet allows egg producers to label these eggs as free-range. Anything more generous than that is up to the farmers and distributors.

Much of the terminology printed on egg cartons refer to how the hens are fed. Chicken eggs that are labeled as being high in omega 3 fatty acids are from hens that are fed a diet containing polyunsaturated fats and kelp meal. “Vegetarian diet” and “grain fed” refer to chickens that are not fed any meat, meat-by products, or petroleum-enhanced feed. Organic eggs, with the USDA organic symbol on the carton, are from hens that are fed only organic vegetarian feed and are also allowed some access to outdoors.

As one might expect, organic free-range eggs are more expensive than factory eggs from battery-caged hens. A trip to a few local grocery stores yielded egg prices from $1.29/dozen for white factory-farmed eggs to $4.99/dozen for organic brown free-range eggs (sourced from a farm in Washington state).

The word “natural” is a vaguely used term that may imply that chickens are not given hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs, except during illness. The true natural diet of chickens is what they would get on their own outside: grass and bugs. Pasture-raised free-range hens which forage largely for their own food (with some supplemental feed) tend to produce eggs with higher nutritional quality in having less cholesterol and fats while being several times higher in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids than standard factory eggs. Pastured poultry are truly free-range chickens and their lives most closely resemble the Disney-esque fantasy I posited above. Their eggs are superior in taste compared to factory eggs and are much better for you.

Sadly, local eggs from pasture-raised hens are currently not available in stores in our area. Eggs sold in stores must pass through government-regulated inspection and grading facilities, of which there are currently none on the North Coast. We can only buy local “grass-fed” eggs direct from farmers – at roadside stands, at farmers markets, or via CSA. The cost is reasonable, ranging from $3 – $5/dozen.

To read more about the nutritional value of eggs from pastured hens, go to:


Silverleaf Farm – New farmer Cesily Stewart breaks ground in Naselle

Cecily Stewart
Photo: Cathy Nist

ACCORDING TO CENSUS DATA, the average age of farmers in the US is above 50 and continues to rise. At the same time, the percentage of farmers under 35 has been on the decline. The ageing of the farm population has led to concerns about the long-term health of family farms as an American institution.

Fortunately, an emerging group of people in their 20s and 30s are interested in farming as a career. Many of these young farmers are attracted to small-scale, less-mechanized, organic methods of farming and tend to gravitate to the farm-to-fork culture popular in the Pacific Northwest.

Cesily Stewart, the sixth of eight children is in her late 20s and is the force behind Silverleaf Farm of Naselle, Washington. This year, she is selling her farm products for the first time at the River People Farmers Market in Astoria. She vends produce and flowers that she grows as well as value added products of her own creation such as herbal teas and sweet treats. She often shares a booth with Fred Johnson of Fred’s Homegrown, also of Naselle.

Silverleaf Farm encompasses 14 acres of bottomland enclosed within a horseshoe bend of the Naselle River. The Stewart family, who has lived onsite off and on since 1984, owns the farm. Roughly half of the acreage is open field, the remainder is ancient overgrown apple orchard and forest with some old growth spruce remaining near the river. The main house and outbuildings dot the edge of the field. A pet horse roams freely except for the fenced-in garden areas. It’s a pretty spot if one edits out the new clearcut across the road to the south of the farm.

For Cesily Stewart, the journey to becoming a farmer was inevitable. “For a long period of my life, I felt disconnected from the culture I was trying to participate in” she said. “After a series of soul-sucking jobs, I came to the point where living sustainably by farming seemed like the only thing to do.” She had been traveling for a time and had contemplated finding land for a farm. Near the start of the current recession, she was about to start a farm internship on the island of Maui when she made what she thought would be a quick detour home for a family visit.

During that visit she learned that her parents felt they might lose their property. Because of this, Cesily decided to remain in Naselle. Over several months of discussion, Stewart, her parents, and her sister and brother-in law hammered out a plan that would allow them all to live on the family land and contribute to the mortgage together, with five of them sharing the payments instead of just two.

Silverleaf FarmCesily’s part of the project was to start up and run a small-scale commercial farm on the property. “ I just felt like that was my opportunity, she said. “I don’t really have all the skills I was hoping I could amass before starting such a project, but I felt that if I didn’t act then, the land that I love might no longer be available to me.”

Stewart now grows greens, squash, lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables along with medicinal herbs and flowers for bouquets on a ½ acre plot which is about the most as she can currently handle. There is plenty of room for expansion in the future, and she plans to start a CSA, but feels that she doesn’t yet have the experience needed for such a project.

During Stewart’s childhood, her family always had a big garden. In making the leap to production-scale farming she has experienced a huge learning curve, while having to invest more money and effort than she had initially estimated. Last year when the production garden was first tilled and planted; she had to learn how much acreage she could realistically take on. “My big lesson this year has been trying to learn soil nutrition,” she says.

One of the obstacles for new farmers who wish to avoid petroleum-based agricultural methods is a lack of knowledge. Young farmers used to learn from their elders, but the shift to large-scale factory farms in the 20th Century has left a knowledge gap of a generation or more. It is difficult for new farmers like Stewart to find mentors in an area like the Naselle Valley where, other than remnants of cow/calf production, agriculture has fallen out of fashion. She is able to consult with Fred Johnson to some extent as he has been farming in the area since 2003 and is a few years farther along the often-daunting learning process.

Stewart realizes that at some point she is probably going to have to “bite the bullet” and attend a farm school. She is interested in Greenbank Farm on Whidby Island, Washington, which offers a 7-month sustainable agriculture program that teaches the technical and business skills needed to run a farm. She is also interested in studying herbal medicine, permaculture, and sustainable building, and acquiring primitive skills such as bow hunting.

Ultimately, the Stewart family plans to operate Silverleaf Farm as a collective farm and sustainable living and learning center, offering workshops and hands-on experience in raising food and low-impact construction.

Young farmers like Cesily Stewart are important. Big Ag as we know it is heading for inevitable changes away from the current heavy dependence on petroleum. We need a corps of innovative young farmers who will help transition the face of agriculture into a post-petroleum future. Kudos to Stewart for all of the hard work she has done and will continue to do!

Silverleaf Farm Squash at Silverleaf


FARMSTOCK – A Regional Homegrown Festival

Farmstock panorama
FARMSTOCK is a community-building event that provides an opportunity for small-scale local farmers to connect with potential consumers in an informal setting. People of like minds with respect to food will be able to discuss and exchange ideas, experience new tastes, and enjoy good local music.

On Saturday and Sunday, September 3 – 4, farmer and former restauranteur Fred Johnson is teaming up with KMUN to host Farmstock: a regional homegrown festival on his historic farm in Naselle, Washington. Farmstock, a locavore carnival of sorts, is a celebration of the food and music of our North Coast region.

Johnson has wanted to hold an event like Farmstock for some time. “To me, it really starts with our taste buds: the idea of knowing the difference between a crappy store tomato and a real, tasty, home-grown tomato. There’s genius in that flavor and it happens with so many different vegetables. It’s the nutrition that we’re putting into the soils; it’s the care and the love, it’s the freshness of eating something the same day it’s harvested… it matters.  What a revelation, nutrition tastes good! With our modern-day food systems, we’ve got a quantitative product, but there’s not that qualitative nutritional edge to it.”

Everybody recognizes good flavor. That’s what Farmstock is about, giving people a chance to experience what local tastes like.”

Fred JohnsonAfter years of working as a chef in the Atlanta area, Johnson experienced an “aha moment” when he accepted a position at Meadowcreek, a 1600-acre preserve and educational facility for sustainability in Arkansas. For Johnson, the job at Meadowcreek was a way to get out of Atlanta, but it was there that he was first exposed to working with the beautiful fresh-out-of-the-garden produce raised organically onsite. “It had this quality that I had never experienced before. It completely changed my whole culinary life.”

Johnson says, “Once you’ve had that flavor, it’s really hard to go back and put up with the produce you get from the restaurant purveyors. McDonald’s and ‘Chez Whatever’ are using the same tomatoes. It’s just that we, as chefs know all these tricks that cover for the fact that it’s an inferior product.”

Referring to his own farm grown vegetables, Johnson states: “Eating this stuff, is like the real McCoy. I’d never cooked with such passion toward food before and it changed me. That’s why I came to the Pacific Northwest, because this area is cutting edge.”

For several years, Johnson operated a successful restaurant on Vashon Island, Washington, but was still unable to get the farm-fresh produce at a price that his customers would support. Selling the restaurant and buying the farm in Naselle enabled him to finally combine his twin loves for cooking food and growing food.

A partial summary of  Farmstock events follows:

KIM ANGELIS will open the ticketed concert at 7:30pm at the main stage on Saturday. Admission for this event is tentatively priced at $5. Local musicians Niall Carroll, Tim Root, The Oyster Boys, and others will perform from 1 – 6pm.

FREE WORKSHOPS are scheduled for 10 -11:30am and 1 – 5pm on Saturday. Subjects include: “Seed Saving,” “Poultry and Other Farm People,” “Biochar,”  “Blacksmithing,” “Cottage Industry for Farming and Homesteading,” and more.

Johnson Farm

Fred Johnson will be crafting farm pizzas with local fresh ingredients all day Saturday. Other munchies will be available as well. The Fort George Beer Garden will be open from 1 – 10pm on Saturday.  At 10pm, following the concert, gather around the bonfire for music, conversation, and dancing into the night. Onsite camping will be available.

Farmstock culminates on Sunday with a plenary discussion for stakeholders in our region’s sustainable future from 10am – 1pm.  A special Farmhouse Sunday Dinner at 1pm caps the festival. The dinner will be created from locally sourced ingredients. Seating is limited; dinner tickets are $25 and are available from KMUN through August 19.

KMUN is putting out a call to anyone interested in helping out with Farmstock. Vendors and are invited sell farm goods, arts and crafts, and more. Exhibitors are welcome. Chefs are encouraged to discuss and demonstrate their approaches to locally sourced and sustainable cuisine, either as presenters or vendors. A small fee of $10 will be charged to exhibit or vend. Volunteers are wanted to help with setting up, food and beverage service, general schlepping, cleanup, etc.

INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING in the production of Farmstock? Call Tom Hartland at 503-325-0010, or email For the Farmstock flyer and schedule, go to:

KaleADMINSSION TO FARMSTOCK IS FREE, parking is $5 per vehicle, camping (no hookups) is $20 per vehicle. No dogs are allowed except service animals. Proceeds from fees and tickets support KMUN and Coast Community Radio.

FRED’S FARM IS LOCATED at 201 South Valley Rd. in Naselle, Washington. Turn right off Hwy 401 in Naselle, just past Okie’s Sentry Market, onto South Valley Rd. Continue for about a mile. The farm is on the left.

Fred Johnson, a chef and former restaurant owner raises vegetables and organically certified hay on the 70-acre historic farm that he has owned since 2003. He is especially known for his tomatoes and greens. He sells produce to local restaurants, and to the public via CSA subscription. He caters weddings and other events at the farm and owns a hardwood flooring business. Visit him online at


River People’s Market

“There is a great need in our North Coast communities for more access to fresh, healthy food, especially for lower-income residents. As well, local small farms and ranches, part-time producers, fishers, and other food producers need easier, affordable market access in an atmosphere that will foster business development and encourage economic growth.”
From the River People Farmers Market Statement of Purpose

River People's Market
Kelly Huckestein and Lori Rutledge

The River People Farmers Market (which debuted in Astoria on Thursday, June 23) provides eager shoppers yet another opportunity to buy farm fresh locally raised food. Market volunteers estimate that more than 1,000 people visited or participated in the market on opening day. Vendors offer vegetables, strawberries, flowers, edible plant starts, eggs, meat, and seafood.  Bread and other baked goods, jams, vinegars, teas, sauerkraut, kimchee, fresh and aged cheese, wildcrafted nettle pesto, and other handmade goodies both cooked and raw are also available.  The Market Café offers a changing menu gleaned from what is available at the market each week. Live music rounds out the market experience.

The vendors include Astoria Sunday Market veterans 46 North Farm, Kingfisher Farms, Blue Scorcher Bakery, and Skipanon Seafood. The River People Farmers Market also serves as a platform for those new to farming and/or selling such as Love Warrior Gardens of Svensen and Silver Leaf Farm of Naselle, WA.

The River People Farmers Market was set up by North Coast Food Web and is operated by volunteers. The River People Farmers Market complements rather than competes with the Astoria Sunday Market, providing a second weekly opportunity for Astoria area residents to score the freshest possible local food, and more chances for local farmers to market their produce, plants, and products. Unlike the Sunday Market, the River People Market, along with other new farmers markets on the North Coast, focuses primarily on food.

More than anything, markets like the River People Farmers Market promote community. Consumers have the opportunity to buy the fresh local food they are increasingly demanding and to learn more about what they eat and who produces it. Farmers have the opportunity to sell their output directly to the consumer. Both farmers and consumers have the opportunity to meet, to learn, to exchange ideas, to socialize. It’s a relaxed environment, a great place to meet friends and make new ones, to taste something new, to learn a new recipe, to hear the story of how your food came to be, and of course to find some great local food!

The River People Farmers Market runs from 3 – 7pm every Thursday through September in the parking lot at Astoria Indoor Garden Supply on 13th St.

Debit, credit, and SNAP cards are accepted, but dogs are not allowed in the market area. Interested in becoming a vendor? Go to  for a Market Handbook and vendor application.


KALA@HIPFiSHmonthly – Call of the Wild • Anne Greenwood & Renia Ydstie

IN CELEBRATION of creative work in fiber and textiles, HIPFiSHmonthly is sponsoring two mixed media artists to participate in the Astoria Second Saturday Artwalk. This inaugural event for Astoria’s newest artspace takes place on Saturday, July 9 from 5 – 9pm in the new gallery space/Hipfish production office, KALA, at 1017 Marine Drive in Astoria.

KALA @Hipfishmonthly collaborates with Northcoast arts curator/painter/multimedia artist Rebecca Rubens. Rubens is a regional native and longtime contributor to the arts movement on the coast. She was an original founder of Astoria Visual Arts twenty years ago, and has worked with many artists and arts projects as the fertility of cultural arts continues its growth on the coast.

The ground floor space at the hipfish production office will program visual arts, performance and lecture, as a flexible space.  CALL OF THE WILD is its inaugural event. Serendipitously, the space whose name bares the Finnish word for “fish” (pronounced with a glottal stop “K”), is also the Sanskrit term for “goddess of the cultural arts.” The exhibit space will be open for viewing Fri – Sun, 12noon to 5pm, and by appt.

Call of the Wild features the work of artists Anne Greenwood and Renia Ydstie. The work of the two artists will complement each other and show off HIPFISH monthly’s new digs.

Greenwood sleep
Portland artist Anne Greenwood debuts A Kind of Blue, Sleep, I’ve Got U (an animalistic figure suspended in a net from the gallery ceiling) at KALA.

Portland mixed media artist, Anne Greenwood ( works with textiles and printmaking to create a physical linkage or record that connects ideas to human experience.  Greenwood worked in Scotland, studied at the University of Oregon and received a BA from Moorehead State University, MN. Her creations are influenced by her experiences working with visual art, horticulture, and history. Her artistic process is influenced by collaboration and community-based projects and in her work, she uses pattern to explore the the tight technical precision of workmanship and the relative looseness of freeworkmanship.

Of the two pieces created for Call of the Wild, Greenwood states: “I am a mixed media artist interested in culture and folk art. This exhibit is about textiles, sleep, a trip to Argentina, the feeling of old quilts and their beautifully colored fabrics, bandana handkerchiefs, rest, the ocean, the wind, and fresh air. My materials are mostly all castoffs: scrap wood, ice cream spoons and bottle tops my family collected in Argentina, muslin curtains, and shredded documents.”

Greenwood quilt
Portland artist Anne Greenwood debuts Dresden Plate Quilt at KALA.

Greenwood’s Dresden Plate Quilt is created from rift-sawn white oak plywood, silkscreen, and found objects. She says: “I want to make quilts, not of fabric but form wooden or other found, leftover things. I think old quilts are cultural artifacts that tell about the person or community that made them. I like the quilts that were made of old clothes, feed-sacks, or fabrics that used to be something else. The fabric has been so many places. It has gone on trips or come from other lands. Old, used fabrics have a life of their own and their energy is full of life. People slept under these quilts, they held dreams and picnics, and overheard many tales. The Dresden Plate quilt pattern was one of the most popular quilts made during the 1920s and 30s. The popular name for this quilt, Dresden Plate, reflects the romance of the Victorian Era with its love of elaborate decoration on household items and décor. Dresden, Germany was a center of 19th century romanticism movement in art, one that included the fine decoration of porcelain. The plates were embellished with elaborate design using flowers, fruits and foliage. The beautiful plates would surely have been admired by women of the early 20th century.”

Greenwood’s second piece is entitled: A Kind of Blue, Sleep, I’ve Got U. Constructed from cotton thread, indigo-dyed muslin shredded documents A Kind of Blue consists of an animalistic figure suspended in a net from the gallery ceiling.  Greenwood says, “Muslin, the color of indigo, and an animal-person caught in the air in a net is a sensation, premonition, gut feeling, or instinct. This figure describes the feeling.” Is the net a sieving? A trap? An embrace? Is the figure a memory, a person, a dream?

Local artist, musician and teacher Renia Ydstie was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and moved to Astoria with her family at age 5. She earned a degree in International Education from the University of Oregon. She then went on to teach English in Costa Rica, France, and Spain. She is an accomplished accordionist and was a member of Action Panther, a Portland-based Alternative/Indie band. Recently, she moved back to Astoria and has worked for her alma mater, Astoria High School.
In Call of the Wild, Ydstie will present installation work that relates to the natural environment, using found material and paper. These works are intended to be interactive. Viewers are invited to touch, manipulate, enter, and even contribute to Ydstie’s art in this exhibit.

Renia bird
A Renia Ydstie bird, from her flock, that will accompany a human-size bird nest entitled Birds and Nest.

Of her work in Call of the Wild Ydstie says: “Birds and a Nest is an interactive sculpture installation of a movable flock of birds and a human-sized nest. It is constructed with materials that can be found in the immediate environment and is installed in a gallery setting in the hope that other people will enjoy it, play with it, and add to it through their participation.

The Birds were made after watching an enormous flock that was living over by Burger King this winter. Movement of individuals in a system is what interested [me] most. However, coming up with a paper and string mechanism to replicate flock dynamics ended messily, so a simplified option was adopted.

Each bird is built around a blown (local, thank you Co-op) chicken eggshell. The body is sculpted with papier-mache feathers cut from a romance novel, newspapers, tickets and linen, then finished with beeswax. Birds are hung in mated pairs so that when one bird is pulled, another moves.  Participants may move birds as they wish, thus constantly changing the shape of the flock. More participants = more flock movement.

The Nest is based on many forms of enclosed woven bird nests but is built to human proportions with local materials woven together with hands, not beaks and tiny feet. Participants may climb inside the nest and are also encouraged to add to it. Nesting materials are provided and children are absolutely invited. More participants = more interesting nest.

For me, the big payoff in a project like this is the satisfaction that comes from manipulating basic materials (like making a blanket fort when you are a kid), and the ideas that are generated when interacting with a set of ideas in a new way (as when you travel). All are invited to participate.”