alternative press serving the lower columbia pacific region


Wine and Art in Astoria Saturday June 11

Wine and Art in AstoriaEnjoy a great pairing of wine and art at the annual Wine Walk in historic downtown Astoria in conjunction with the 2nd Saturday Art Walk on June 11. “We pair a selection of art venues with local restaurants providing wine and appetizers,” explained Art Walk Chair Deborah Starr. “There are also some great new gallery installations opening in June so this is the perfect opportunity to see some interesting and spectacular new works here in Astoria.” The Wine Walk takes place from 5 to 9 pm. Wine Walk glasses are available for $10 at Commercial Street Antiques (959 Commercial) and Nepal on Exchange (1421 Commercial).

Glasses become available for sale starting at 4:30pm on the day of the event and include up to six tastings per glass. For more information call 503-791-7940.

Sponsored by Wauna Federal Credit Union, proceeds from the Wine Walk benefit the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association. The real benefit, however, is enjoying this historic town while discovering great new works at local galleries and shops while sipping specially selected wines by local restaurants.

La Cabana Opens in South Astoria

La Cabana
Astoria’s former High Wheeler restaurant, which closed early this year, is under new ownership and has been repurposed into Restaurante “La Cabana”. La Cabana opened on May 28, serving a limited menu of authentic Mexican food. The eclectic seating fixtures and gorgeous views of Youngs Bay have been retained from the eatery’s previous incarnation.

The food at La Cabana is fast, inexpensive, and good. Tacos, gorditas, burritos and sopes are made fresh to order. Tortillas are homemade on site. Menudo is available on Saturdays and Sundays. Entrees are $5.99 (or $1.75 for a single taco).

Soft drinks are available and include Jarritos, Mexican Coca Cola, horchata (made fresh daily), as well as generous pours of Pepsi products, all ranging from  $1.75 – $2.

Note: Payment at La Cabana is currently cash only (as of May 30).  Checks and debit/credit cards are not accepted at this time, but the restaurant owners hope to change this policy in the near future. Look for expanded menu offerings soon.

Restaurante “La Cabana”
Open 9am – 8pm every day.
35431 Highway 101 Business, Astoria

Hanks’s Daily Farm Stand • A fix for your daily veg habit

Hank's Daily Farm StandFancy a stroll down the beach to pick up some tasty local food for supper? Nehalem farmer Hank Tallman of Lunasea Gardens continues his popular daily farm stand stocked with fresh and local food goodies from his own and neighboring farms and gardens.

“I want to get the word out to people who won’t go to a farmers market because they have the assumption that it’s not for them. Organic food is seen as a high class thing; which is great—that has incubated the market, but there needs to be more access for economically challenged people. Everybody deserves to have fresh and local food; my hope is to offer organic produce at a lower cost that conventional items at the grocery,” Tallman states.

The farm stand opened last summer, but a challenging growing season led to a slow start. Tallman is optimistic about this year, though of course farming is always a gamble. Jamie Ehrke, owner of Longevity, where the stand is located, says “The feedback last year was great. People were totally excited about it; I got tons of people asking if we were doing it again.”

Tallman encourages local gardeners and other producers (eggs, honey, flowers, value-added products like soap, salsas, jams) to contact him with items they would like to sell. Meadow Harvest grass-fed beef and lamb will be available, as well as Tallwoman Tonics and herbs.

The stand will be open daily from 10am to 7pm at Longevity, 123 Laneda Ave. in Manzanita. Contact Tallman Tel: 503-368-FARM or Email:

Himani Indian Cuisine Made with Love!

Himani Indian CuisineCUSTOMERS lined up early for the complimentary buffet offered at the much-anticipated opening of Himani Indian Cuisine in Astoria, this last week in May.   It was a generous gift from the Kancharla family to the community.

The Kancharlas have lived in Astoria for nearly two decades, operating several adult foster care homes in the area. Three years ago, Mani Kancharla, wanting to share Indian culture and her love of cooking with her fellow Astorians, opened a food booth at the Sunday Market. The high quality of the fare offered at the stand soon generated many loyal customers who lobbied strongly for a restaurant. Although they have no previous experience operating a restaurant, the Kancharlas have obliged.

Himani Indian CuisineThe first impression upon entering the restaurant is from the warm aroma of exotic spices that infuses the entire space. In contrast, the dining area is appointed with understated elegance. The food is of a level beyond what one might expect to get at an Indian restaurant in a small town like Astoria. Mani Kancharla, who is functionally Himani’s Executive Chef, translates her love of cooking and hospitality into her cuisine. You can taste the love and care that goes into every item, the food is that good.

The ambitious menu offers nearly 50 entrees originating from all over India, with an emphasis on dishes from the south. Southern Indian cuisine revolves around rice or meat. It is rich and aromatic, with a liberal use of exotic spices and ghee (clarified butter).

Nearly half of the entrees are vegetarian with a large variety of curries available. Especially good is Hyderabadi Bagara Baigan, a curry of eggplant stuffed with peanut, coconut and sesame seed paste; flavored with tamarind and served with Basmati rice. The complex layering of flavors in the curry marries well with the eggplant resulting in a satisfying dish that this writer will want to eat again and again.

Himani Indian Cuisine

Executive Chef Mani Kancharia (r), and son Will, restaurant manager.

South Indian specialties available at Himani include dosa: crepes made from lentil and rice flour served with coconut chutney and sambar (a spicy vegetable stew).  Biriyani: rice with seasonings and meat and/or vegetables slow-cooked in a sealed pot is another traditional Southern dish.

A favorite of this writer is the Biriyani with Lamb. Rice with succulent chunks of lamb marinated in yogurt and spices is slow-cooked to perfection. The tender lamb nearly melts in the mouth; the rice absorbs all of the flavors of the meat juices and seasonings. A cool riata of seasoned yogurt is served on the side.

Himani Indian CuisineAnother personal favorite, not listed on the menu, but available at the Lunch Buffet is Rasam: a broth-like soup made with tamarind, tomato, chili and spices. The sweet-sour of the tamarind together with the subtle heat of the chili will cause me to crave Rasam some cold winter day when I am feeling under the weather.

Prices at Himami are moderate with appetizers and sides running from $2 – $8, entrees $9 – $18, beverages and desserts are $2 and $4, respectively. The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is $10.

Himani Indian Cuisine is located in downtown Astoria at 1044 Marine Drive.

Open Monday – Saturday with only the lunch buffet available from 11am – 2:30pm, and dinner from the menu at  5 – 9pm. Himani will also be at the Astoria Sunday Market from 10am – 3pm until October 9.

Local Fare — Feeding Us All

Head Start with Starts
Glimpses of blue sky and sun gets coastal residents chomping at the bit to get outside and begin gardening. But as long-timers know, the chance of a significant frost in May is high—so patience is not only a necessity but a virtue. Later planting with starts is one way to mitigate the wait, and fortunately the Lower Nehalem Community Trust’s Community Garden Program is hosting a sale of organic veggie starts proven for the NW Maritime climate. The sale is on Saturday May 14, from 9am to noon at the Alder Creek Farm.  Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, squashes, tomatoes, herbs and more are will be ready for adoption into your own garden.

“Proceeds from the sale will help with the ongoing improvements to our greenhouse and gardens,” says Karen Matthews, LNCT’s Community Garden manager.   “We continually upgrade our garden practices which allow our productivity to flourish.   The more our garden grows, the more fresh organic produce we can donate to the North County Community Food Bank.” Essential, as food banks continue to see exponential rise in demand, especially for fresh and nutritious foods.

LNCT’s community garden is another avenue to local food access and food security. The 25 active gardeners share the work and harvest of food from the ½ acre garden. Other ways to get involved in the Trust include membership; a 4 in. plant start can be yours with a commitment to get involved.
Annual membership in the LNCT begins at just $15 and includes benefits such as reduced admission and tuition to events, programs, and workshops.

To reach Alder Creek Farm & Natural Area, turn south off of Hwy 101 at Underhill Lane between Manzanita and Nehalem.  Follow the Lane to the end of the road for plenty of free parking. Tel: 503-368-3203 Email: Web:

Growin’ A Row
Growing a garden this year? Food Roots of Tillamook County is encouraging local gardeners to plant an extra row or bed for donation to the hungry. No donation is too small or large, and neighbors or friends can team up to make a bigger impact. The usual suspects of carrots, onions, squash, peppers, beets, and so on are popular, but lesser-known plants are welcome too. Produce should be in good, edible shape and it is appreciated if it is field washed.

There are two ways to donate: bring the food to the Regional Food Bank of Tillamook County at 2105 Fourth St. in Tillamook; or take your produce directly to a food pantry, soup kitchen or other community program. For a list of these programs call The Regional Food Bank at 503-842-3154 x1 or x4.
Spread the word about the Grow a Row program, and help increase access to high quality local food. For more info about the program, contact Food Roots. Tel: 503-842-3154 x2 Email:

Postals Packin’ Peas
May 14 is the day of the world’s largest one-day food drive, and everyone with a mailbox (and without, for that matter) is invited to participate. More than 4,000 letter carriers in urban and rural areas throughout Oregon and Clark County, WA will join with letter carriers across America to collect donations of nonperishable food from their postal customers during the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive, Saturday, May 14.

The Run down:
1. Look for a white, plastic, degradable food drive bag in your mail during the first week of May.
Fill the bag (or any sturdy bag) with nutritious, nonperishable food. The Oregon Food Bank Network will recycle your bag.

2. Place it by your mailbox early on Saturday, May 14.

3. All donated food stays in the community where it was collected. Letter carriers will collect nonperishable food donations left by mailboxes and take them to their local post office, where more than a thousand volunteers throughout Oregon and Clark County will pack the food. Trucks will pick up the food and deliver it to regional food banks of the Oregon Food Bank Network. If you miss your letter carrier’s daily visit, drop off your food donations at any post office by Wednesday, May 18.

Foods to donate:
canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon),
canned and boxed meals (soup, chili, stew, macaroni and cheese),
canned or dried beans and peas (black, pinto, lentils),
pasta, rice cereal,
canned fruits, 100 percent fruit juice (canned, plastic or boxed),
canned vegetables,
cooking oil, boxed baking mixes.

Avoid the Obvious:
Rusty or unlabeled cans, glass containers, perishable items, homemade items, noncommercial canned or packaged items, alcoholic beverages, mixes or soda, open or used items.

Up-Beet Shopping Up Wahkiakum Way
Two Island’s Farm Market began their sixth season Friday, May 6th at Stockhouse’s Farm, 59 W. Birnie Slough Road on Puget Island.  Market hours have been extended and will run Fridays from 3-6:30 pm through October.  Fresh Wahkiakum grown vegetables, cut flowers, veggie starts (23 varieties of tomato plants), perennials, artisan breads, free-range eggs, and USDA processed meats (goat, beef, lamb and pork) by the cut are often available.  Market booths will accept Senior Farmers Market Checks and SNAP cards this season.  The Up-Beet Stage is ready for a new season with an Open Mic—all musicians welcome—3-6:30–a great sound system will amplify your talents!  The Chief Wahkiakum trolley will run shoppers from the Elochoman Marina to the Farmers Market, leaving the marina at 3, 4 and 5 pm on Fridays (weather permitting). Contact Rob or Diane Stockhouse, Tel: 360.849.4145, or the Wahkiakum Chamber for more info, Tel: 360-795-9996.

Fresh and Fun: Astoria Sunday Market

Cyndi MudgeWe’ve weathered another winter here on the North Coast, and folks is itchin’ to get out, connect, and enjoy those glimpses of blue sky. The Astoria Sunday Market (ASM) gears up in May to usher us into the summer.

Market goers will find the usual fantastic transformation of Twelfth Street, beginning Mother’s Day Weekend. Up to two hundred booths will feature the crafts, foods, baked goods, flowers and produce that we’ve all come to enjoy. Interested in one-stop shopping? In addition to all the great items available at the Market, many of the downtown merchants are open on Sundays because of the Market. You can get your groceries, lunch, office supplies, new lamp, and a birthday present for Uncle Bob without heading out to a box store. Local economy thrives and everybody’s happy.

“The Market started to revitalize historic downtown,” ASM Director Cyndi Mudge explains. “In the beginning there were maybe only 30 booths, and most downtown merchants were closed Sundays. The ASM has added vibrancy to the community and downtown core; we’ve succeeded in bringing $137,000 into downtown projects.” Recipients of this boon include Liberty Theater, the Commercial Fishermen’s Festival, Garden of Surging Waves,  Astoria Music Festival and Astoria Regatta, among many others. In addition, funds from Astoria Sunday Market have helped purchase bicycles for the Astoria Police Department, repave 12th Street, resurface the downtown public parking lot, purchase streetscape planters and benches for the downtown plaza, and help underwrite exterior repairs to Liberty Theater.

The growth of the Market is not only evident by the number of booths and foot traffic. ASM has created popular programs such as the Scavenger’s Feast and the Young Entrepreneur’s Club and Market Biz Kidz tent. These programs benefit local businesses and sellers, and foster future cottage industry vendors by empowering kids to make, grow, and sell their own products. The music scene is expanding too, with 18 local and regional bands slated to perform at the food court—as always the music is free and an integral part of the Market experience. One of Mudge’s favorite aspects of the ASM that she encouraged when she came on board as Director in 2008 are the busking possibilities.

“I grew up in Seattle with the Public Market in Pike’s Place,” she says. “The busking was fantastic there, a real part of the thriving market scene. I wanted to have that here. Now it’s growing and we had everything last year from free hugs to high school musicians to folks traveling out from Portland.” ASM does have a free but required busking permit that goes over the courtesy rules of performing at the market. Mudge asks folks to contact her if they want to busk. “The good, bad and the ugly, they all add to the fun of the Market in ways you’d never imagine,” Mudge laughs.

De Asis FarmsAstoria Sunday Market is in its 11th year. Rising gas prices have seen a change in the demographic of original vendors, and some folks are retiring after a long run with the Market. New vendors have come to take their place, and the mix of familiar with the unknown keeps the Market fresh. ASM also runs a cruise ship market through the cruising season that contributes to the local economy, and offers another opportunity to vend during weekdays. The Winter Market keeps others selling in off-season months.

“The Market(s) are a huge community asset. A community square for locals; a happy weekly celebration and a great place to meet your neighbors. Our vendors are like a family, they take care of each other and support each other. The Market is a joyful, compassionate environment that contributes to the vibrancy of our region.” Clearly Cyndi Mudge loves her job.
Astoria Sunday Market runs May 8 through October 9. The Market is open from 10 am to 3 pm. Contact Cyndi Mudge: Tel: 503-325-1010. Web:
Kid Vendor at MarketProgram Spotlight

Baked Alaska Chef Chris Holen commands the Scavenger’s Feast, sending participants on a chase through the Market for specific ingredients. When adventurers return to Mise En Place Kitchenware with the goods, Holen co-creates a fabulous Sunday meal. The monthly Scavenger’s Feast is $45 per person with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Astoria Sunday Market. On September 4 one child gets in free with a paying adult for a family scavenged feast. To make reservations for The Scavenger’s Feast call Mise En Place Kitchenware at 503-325-7414 or stop by and sign-up in person. Feast Dates: Sunday, June 5, July 10, July 31, August 21, September 4 (bring kiddos), and September 18.

And at the Market Biz Kidz Tent, the young ‘uns are busy learning what it takes to make and grow their own products and sell them at the market. In mid-June, the participants of the Young Entrepreneur’s Club will vend their wares at the Market at the Kidz Tent. This opportunity is supported by the Sunday Market, Clatsop Co. 4-H, Western Oregon Waste, and Wauna Federal Credit Union.

To Market!

No Excuse to Not Eat Your Veg: Exponential Access to Fresh and Local.
Three New Coastal Farmers Markets

“Oregon is absolutely the epicenter of this [food systems security] work in the US.” So says Sharon Thornberry, Community Food Systems Manager of the Oregon Food Bank, and player on the national food stage. Another progressive stance we can be proud of. Clatsop and Tillamook Counties are leaders in collaborative efforts to create sustainable food webs and access for all to fresh and local foods. Nowhere is this more evident than in the blossoming of three, count ‘em, three new food markets on the North Coast.

Eat Local ProduceWhat’s up with all the energy for fresh and local? “People have been asking for a local food farmers market for years,” says Merianne Myers, North Coast Food Web (NCFW) and Astoria Co-op board member, “and now the elements have come together to meet that demand. It’s very exciting.” Myers refers to the emerging River People Farmers Market, slated to open Thursday, June 23, in Astoria, in a to-be-determined downtown location. The market’s mission is to bring the Astoria community a “true farmers market focused on making fresh produce and local food products more available to North Coast residents.” Access for any income level is a key component of this new market, and Myers emphasizes that a downtown location allows access by foot, bike, or bus; the market will accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits and also WIC and Senior Nutrition coupons. The benefits go all the way round, with local producers getting access to direct consumers and an opportunity to break into the local food scene.

The market will operate Thursdays from June 23 through September, and if product and demand and weather conspire favorably, through the end of October. Hours are 3-7pm. Only fresh, farm grown produce and flowers, farm raised and eggs, farm-grown plant starts, locally caught fish, and producer made value-added or ready-to-consume food products will be sold. Music is on tap and opportunities to snack too! River People Farmers Market is a partnership between the North Coast Food Web, Blue Scorcher Bakery, Astoria Co-op, KMUN, and OSU Extension Clatsop County.

Contact Merianne Myers: Tel: 512-964-5949 Email: Web:
Meanwhile, across the waters the new Columbia-Pacific Farmers Market, a Friday afternoon market in downtown Long Beach, is scheduled to open on May 6 from 3-7pm and run through September.

“The market will be an authentic, regional market featuring food and produce delivered fresh and direct from those who farm, ranch, fish, produce packaged food, and grow flowers and plants,” remarks Jane Holeman, Market Manager. “The weekly Friday afternoon market will support working food producers, honor their way of life and provide a place to gather as a community to have fun.”

Beyond celebrating local food, the market will offer musical entertainment, education, cooking demonstrations and nutritional information, and games and amusements for the children. Contact Jane Holeman: Tel: 360.244.9155 Email: Web:
Seafood at MarketMarket action continues not only North but South, with Seaside getting into the game. A Seaside Farmers Market is in development, a project long in coming for the Seaside community. The Sunset Empire Parks & Rec is spearheading the effort, which is currently in the approval process with the City of Seaside and local police and fire departments.

Mary Blake, director of Sunset Empire Parks & Rec, says that a farmers market is an obvious initiative for her organization. “We’ve been asked by the County to participate in the growing health crises of our community. Food that you eat, exercise that you choose to do, even your land stewardship choices impact health. The market offers a gorgeous effort of building community around healthy lives and choices.  If you make eating fun, if you help people understand how to prepare and eat it, if you really show that digging in the dirt is incredibly satisfying and healthy for you, then people will make the changes they need to make for health.”

Like the other emerging markets, the Seaside Market will emphasize local food from local producers. Fun, music, and community information will also be available. Contact Mary Blake: Tel: 503-738-3311 x 103 Email:

Got your list? Vayamos al mercado!

We Got Ourselves a R-evolution!

Revolution GardensR-evolution Gardens: Permaculture for the People!

[rev-uh-loo-shuh n]
1.  Overthrow of government
2.  Major change
3.  Complete circular turn

APTLY NAMED R-evolution Gardens embodies the spirit of all the definitions of the word (well, ok, maybe overthrow of guv’ment is a stretch, but the farm is off the grid). How so? Look no further than the life stories, visions, and practice of R-evolution’s co-owners and founders Ginger Salkowski and Brian Schulz.

Ginger grew up in Detroit and Western Michigan. Though she always felt activism stirring in her blood—“even as a kid I had a strong sense of social justice”—she never imagined herself as a farmer, and a permaculture educator and practitioner to boot. Tree activism got her out West and brought her together with Brian; Brian himself is a Portland native and activist turned kayak builder and man of the land. His move to the Oregon coast to ply the Pacific brought Ginger to ply the tourist trade of Manzanita—and eventually they bought the farm, literally.

R-evolution Gardens is a fantastic product of hard work, vision, energy, and the bliss of ignorance; an organic, off the grid permaculture laboratory. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Ginger admits. “We started with this land that had been a logging site with incredibly damaged soil and blackberries over your head. I’d never farmed in my life, neither had Brian. We started with these pigs, to root out the blackberries . . . it was totally out of control, but it worked!” And how: after only four years on the land the farm sports several structures, a hoop house, perennial plantings (nut and fruit trees, asparagus, rhubarb), and annual crops. Oh, and chickens, ducks, bees, and a fresh batch of kittens.

The seed of R-evolution began with Ginger’s interest in permaculture.  “Permaculture is sustainable living design,” she explains. “Trying to think about the property and lifestyle so you can close all the loops. Inputs being met by your waste products, incorporating as much recycling and reuse as you can.” Ginger started her permaculture education at a two-week workshop in California, taught by earth activists Starhawk and Penny Livingston. The interest became a passion, and it became clear that her new direction needed to be toward living the principles embodied by permaculture. Ginger sold her fair trade retail operation, It’s Only Fair, and began work with the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, where she created a children’s teaching garden and a permaculture garden. She found herself fulfilled in a way she hadn’t been in a long time, and that satisfaction was clear to community member Mark Beach. “He saw my passion and excitement for this work and offered to sell me some land. He and his partner Kathleen Ryan, are a big, big part of why we are here.”

For Brian’s part, he states that  “I didn’t grow up around agriculture and I never envisioned being a small-scale farmer.  Like so many things in life, the route here was a sinuous chain of circumstances that coalesced into this lifestyle.  It was a bit of serendipity and a lot of hard work.”  He is self-confessed to be “not much good with growing things,” and supports the farm by building structures and creating the off the grid systems. His own home, which he finished at Christmastime, is an example of the ingenuity Brian applies to his learn-as-you-go lifestyle and a testament to eco-building. He traded a boat class for lessons in timber framing from a Montana builder. Wood that he’d been saving for just the right project became shelves. A kayak transformed into a ceiling light fixture. Trees for the house came from nearby property, in the form of blow-down, or were hauled from the river. Earth and plaster walls, recycled blue jeans insulation, and earth paint completed the Japanese-inspired home. Brian milled the wood himself and adds to his skills with every structure he builds.

The essence of off the grid and farm living is embracing DIY. And relying on community, bartering of skills, the sharing of knowledge and time. The community piece is huge for R-evolution Gardens, as their small farmstead is home to not only themselves, but also an assortment of interns and WOOFers (an international network matching workers to room and board farm placements). “I see these kids come and I see seeds being planted in them,” Ginger enthuses. “I don’t know where they will all end up, but I love knowing that people are getting inspired and taking that out in the world.” Brian and Ginger work every day—although some vacation time gets squeezed in—and the young helpers they have do a tremendous amount of work.
R-evolution offers a CSA for the Rockaway to Cannon Beach area, operate a stand at the Manzanita and Cannon Beach farmers’ markets, and with two more acres leased for cultivation may find themselves at an additional market. As always, much depends on the weather.

“In some ways,” laughs Ginger, “the Oregon Coast is the craziest place to try off the grid organic farming. What the land here wants to be is a forest, so that influences how and what we plant—to create a food forest. And we just don’t have the electrical support to have heat lamps for young seedlings—we do the best we can with a hoop house and an insulated room and blankets.” The idea of a food forest includes planting a canopy of fruit and nut trees, with a brush understory of raspberries and blueberries, with the annual vegetables as a ground cover. The farmers give the land the “forest” it wants to be anyway, but are planting what they want to harvest.

Possibly the most exciting thing happening at the farm these days are the skills classes. From grafting trees, raising chickens, and beekeeping to building simple farm infrastructure, R-evolution is the go-to small farms “institute” on the coast. “If we had access to the classes we’re offering now, we would have saved thousands of dollars,” says Ginger. “That’s why we want to give back to others who are trying to learn these skills. And it gives our local farmers a chance to share what they know.” And education is an important part of both Brian and Ginger’s personal life missions. They both love to teach, and find that merely living the values they believe in isn’t nearly as satisfying as empowering others in the bargain.

Showing others that off the grid living is possible not only allows Brian and Ginger to walk their talk but to have an impact on the planet in an exponential way. Unlike the activism that fueled their lives for many years, the R-evolution lifestyle is not about resistance but saying yes! Yes to growth, learning, giving back, building community, food security, and a sustainable life. “Doing these things is good for the planet, but that’s not why I do it,” Brian says. “I live this way because it makes me feel good, because it feels right.” R-evolution Farms has varied power sources including solar and wood (sourced from their land), and is committed to no fossil fuels for energy or heat.

Opportunities abound for individuals who wish to live their lives according to a more sustainable ethos. Even one small change makes a difference. Ginger says this: “What is the best thing people can do? Deepen your connections to what is important to you. And if one of those things you choose is to deepen your connection to is your food and the farmers that grow it, that is just as good as growing it yourself. Reinvest in the connections and it will take you where you need to go. Food connects to EVERYTHING in your life. Food is fun, cooking is fun, getting to know your farmer is fun! It will make you happier, I guarantee it!”

R-evolution Gardens is located in the Nehalem Valley, off of Hwy. 53. Their blog and website have up to date class information, CSA membership info, and great photos and stories of farm life: Tel: 503-368-3044 Email:

What’s Cookin’?

BLUE SCORCHER BAKERY ( is getting good at the gluten-free thing. Bakers Packy and Cheryl have perfected a white, “Golden Loaf” and a darker teff-based loaf. Tuesdays is the day for these low-gluten products (as they are not made in a completely gluten-free facility, the über sensitive are warned forthwith.) And in the “early rumor stage,” as BSB owner Joe Sullivan puts it, are plans for an expanded kitchen and ventilation system. Faster service and more menu items would follow—what’s not to love about that?

Blue Scorcher Bakery is open 8am-5pm seven days a week;
1493 Duane St., Astoria; 503-338-7473

Bastion of Brew, the FORT GEORGE has it goin’ on. A visit to their quite impressive website ( and blog will boggle your mind with events and news. Cans are the thing, 16oz lovelies full o’the finest Vortex IPA and 1811 Lager. Even PDXers are getting in on the brew, with a special pouring & poetry event at Spints Alehouse ( on April 17: book release party for Walt Whitman award winner, Carl Adamshick. Beer and poetry, oh my. Methinks these boys mean to stay in business. Don’t forget you can tour the new canning facility on Saturdays at 1pm or 4pm; meet at the bar.

Fort George Brewery is open Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11am to midnight, Sunday noon-11pm
1483 Duane St., Astoria; 503-325-PINT
Live music every Sunday night, 8-10pm ~ never a cover

In other beery news, SB 444 passed, which repeals a prohibition-era law that stated craft beer and wine brewers couldn’t share their wares beyond home. Fear no more, brewers and vintners, your lovingly tended beverages have the green light for tasting at fairs, festivals, and lemonade stands—well, better leave this one to the kids.

The livin’ is easy at SWEET BASIL’S WINE BAR in Cannon Beach, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Tend your palate and enjoy live music most weekends from 6-9pm. Thursdays offers up the open mic scene, a Wed-Sat happy hour (5-6), and the Café has a good series of winemaker’s dinners cooked up.

Sweet Basil’s + The Wine Bar are open Wednesday-Sunday from 5-10pm
271 North Hemlock, Cannon Beach;
Live music Friday & Saturday nights from 6-9pm
Open Mic (poetry & stories) Thursday 6:30-8:30pm

Finally Astoria is getting an Indian restaurant. Just when you thought you’d eaten everywhere in Astoria, HIMANI’S, beloved of Sunday market goers, will offer a bricks and mortar spicy alternative for a night on the town. The Kancharlas, residents of Alderbrook in Astoria, are illustrative of “the family that cooks together, sticks together,” and will primarily be running the restaurant themselves, although mother Mani will initiate another cook into her secrets of stellar South Indian cuisine. OPENING APRIL 2011!

Himani is located at 1044 Marine Dr., Astoria


Nagamani stirrin’ it up at the Sunday Market.


LUSH Life in Midtown, Cannon Beach


Tracey Abel and Todd Rowley own LUSH. Photo: Lisa Evans

IT’S A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, you’ve got nothing going on and fancy a quiet evening with a book, but also need to get out of the house . . . maybe have a glass of wine. Where to go, in Cannon Beach, for that at home-yet-out feeling? Grab a jacket and head for Lush, Midtown’s comfy wine bar, owned and operated by Tracey Abel and Todd Rowley.

Cannon Beach in a depressed economy might not seem the most obvious time/place to open a wine bar, especially as Abel and Rowley both have successful day jobs and are extremely immersed in community doings. But it was an idea that niggled at them until one day they decided to go for it. A fair amount of research and a leisurely remodel later, Lush opened in July of 2010.

The décor is modern meets vintage funk, in an inspired interior makeover that Rowley, who also owns T&T Construction, did himself. Unique touches include the poured concrete bar top that Rowley impressed with the bottoms of wine bottles for texture. Admire the colored bottles hanging above the bar, transformed into hanging lights also Rowley’s idea. Low couches invite relaxing, as does the gas fireplace and bookshelf filled with wine and local lore.

“We wanted people to have the feeling that they’d just come over casually for a glass of wine, to our home,” Abel says. “We didn’t want to be pretentious.”

That’s not to say the details aren’t all in place. Cloth napkins, impressive stemware, and local art even one glass-topped table is the work of a regional artist are part of Abel’s aesthetic. The floors are poured concrete and cork, the to-go containers are recyclable. An outdoor, dog-friendly space beckons in the nicer weather, but for now the inside will definitely do.

Northwest wines dominate the wine list, but drinkers will also see international varietals. “You won’t find a California Pinot Noir on our list,” Abel laughs. “We find customers really want to focus on NW wines.” This includes labels created by locals Dean Reiman of The Wine Shack and Laurel Hood of Laurel’s Wine Shop. The small plates and appetizers change frequently and are made by Rowley in Lush’s tiny custom retrofitted kitchen. Nibble on warm brie with honey and dates, gird up with flatbreads featuring green apple, fennel & blue cheese, savor some soup, and finish yourself off with a chocolate caramel tart.

Lush has seen a goodly amount of support from locals, for which Abel is grateful. “People want to see business succeed here. That’s what I get from the locals. And we live here too, pay our taxes here. We’re a part of the community and want to give back.” Besides being a great local hangout, Lush offers some much needed entertainment options to the community. Every Wednesday finds a small gathering of open mic enthusiasts, and on first Saturdays of the month “dmoefunk,” a DJ from Portland, spins tunes for an eight-to-late dance party.

“I love it,” Abel muses. “It’s not exactly as I expected, but I wouldn’t change anything.” She and Rowley have lived in Cannon Beach long enough to understand the challenges of owning a business in a seasonal town. They have an eye for the long game and still want to be pouring wine in three years. “What I love are the customers. I know it’s cliché, but the people are what make it for me. We have some customers that are like family. That’s worth a lot.” Meanwhile Abel continues her career as a meeting planner and Rowley fits in remodels on the weekend. Like most Coasties, they’ve made a patchwork that pays the bills and allows for the lifestyle they want.

Lush, as in a descriptor for “wines that are rich, soft, velvety, sweet & fruity,” is open Tues-Sat from 5-9pm. Summer hours will probably be Tues-Sun, 4-9pm. The atmosphere is comfortable, the wines approachable, and the company agreeable. What else do you need to know? Stop in and raise a glass.

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Lush Wine BarLush is located at 1235 South Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach.
Winter hours: Tues-Sat 5-9pm
Summer hours: Tues-Sun 4-9pm
Events: Wednesdays Open Mic; first Saturday Dance Party
Contact Tracy for special event reservations.
Tel: 503-436-8500

Titanic Lifeboat Academy Classes Ahoy!

Food Power and Cottage Industries

The Astoria-based Academy describes themselves as “a center for research and education in sustainable living practices, deep ecology ethics, renewable energy systems and low-impact appropriate technologies.” In partnership with CCC’s Education for Life program, the Academy offers up two classes to chew on.

Food Power: The Physical, Monetary, Political, & Planetary Consequences of What We Put on Our Forks. This four-week course will look at geo-political consequences of food choices, ones we may not have realized. Participants will view and discuss current films about food, share articles and concerns with each other and with speakers and growers. Classes will feature local presenters including Matt Stanley, Manager of the Astoria Coop. Each class will include Sampling and sharing local foods.

Thursdays in April (7, 21,24,28): 6:30-8:45pm $35. Discussion, film, speakers, food.

Cottage Industries for Beginners. Turn your skills or crafts into a home-based business. Curriculum includes understanding how money and the current economy work in order to develop an innovative, relevant home-based business plan. The class will also focus on business networking and small business management (records, finances, marketing).

Mondays in April ( 4,11,18, 25, includes May2): 6-9pm $45. Classes take place at the Lifeboat Academy, 91868 Young’s River Road, Astoria. Web: Email: Tel: 503-325-6886

Queen of the Sun

Queen of the SunFrom the director of “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” comes a profound, alternative look at the tragic global bee crisis. Juxtaposing the catastrophic disappearance of bees with the mysterious world of the beehive, Queen of the Sun weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heart-felt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world. Featuring Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva, Queen of the Sun reveals both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature.

Special Showings: April 22 • 23, 8pm (83 min.)
Columbian Theater • 1102 Marine Dr. Astoria

The Politics of (food) Politics

Farm bills in da house!

“Contentious,” “spirited,” “nail-biting” . . . another instance of the little guy against the Man . . . that’s what we’ve seen in the first session debates of the 2011 legislature. What we talking here, prisons? Taxes? Moral turpitude? Heck no, what we got ourselves is some contro-vershal agricultural legislation.

House Bills 2336, 2222, 2872 and 2947 all address the concerns of small farmers and producers, and ultimately affect you, the eater. So far, three of the bills have made it past the House and are now in the Senate (“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill sittin’ here on Capitol Hill . . . now I’m stuck in the Senate . . .” remember Schoolhouse Rock?), while 2222 remains in process in the House. Here’s the gist and why you should care.

HB 2336 Pickle Bill

A committee bill that goes like this: farmers/growers can sell their products directly to consumers, either at stands or markets without the hassle of having food establishment licenses. This includes veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes and grains that you cook before eating, jams, fruit-based syrups, shell eggs, honey, popcorn, salsa, pickles, and so on. Producers must make less than $20,000 per year on these products; must process the goods themselves; pH levels must be below 4.6; and labels must show ingredients, address of producer, and the ominous “This product is homemade and is not prepared in an inspected food establishment.” If offenses occur, the Dept. of Ag can require producers to get a license. Basically the bill just clarifies the law, which was fuzzy, about what constitutes a “food establishment.” It’s good for the farmer because they can make small batches of value-added products without having to have a commercial kitchen, as well as sell their wares without having to worry about licensing. A plus for the eater ‘cause the goodies will be available at market.

HB 2222 Family Farm Act

The (relative) big guns showed up to fight the first hearing of the “Family Farm Act,” including the Oregon Dairy Farmer Assoc., Tillamook Creamery, the Northwest Food Processors and the Farm Bureau. The raw milk provision of the bill really got the debate underway; it is already legal for farmers with three cows (nine goats) or fewer to sell raw milk to Oregonians who physically go and pick up the milk themselves. The bill ups the allowable animal totals. Many states are looking to ease legislation for raw milk and raw milk products even as the Feds are cracking down on regulations for raw milk cheese. Though much of the population couldn’t care less about raw milk, those consumers that want it want it bad, and drive a quasi-underground market all around the country.

The bill also allows for small farms to slaughter up to 1,000 chickens for use as people food, without having to be inspected. Federal law already allows this exemption for small producers, but Oregon has failed to recognize it, making it illegal for anyone to sell poultry that hasn’t been processed in either a state or USDA inspected facility—of which there is only one in Oregon. This bill is, again, friend of consumer and farmer alike, allowing eaters to get fresh local poultry direct from farmers, and create more of a supply for the growing demand for raw milk.

HB 2947 Honey Bill

This bill also passed the House, and basically requires the Oregon Department of Agriculture to adopt rules and establish standards of identity, quality requirements, and labeling requirements for honey sold in Oregon. Small scale honey producers benefit as do consumers who want pure honey as opposed to honey with undesirable stuff added (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).

All these bills help small farmers keep their costs down by not having to meet regulations created for industrial models, and they ultimately create more product diversity for the consumer. Local is the buzz these days and good reason: increased health and prosperity for us as individuals, small businesses, and communities.

The fears of legislators come in the form of food safety concerns, but as Cannon Beach Rep. Deborah Boone pointed out in the debate, few food recalls come from cottage industries. Recent recalls of eggs, peanut butter, and milk all have come from large producers who are supposedly inspected and “safe.” At the end of the day, knowing who you buy your food from and what kind of a show they are running is the best guarantee for consumers.

For info on small farms issues in Oregon,

The Artisanal Amateur

Cheese GuyA ROLLING STONE gathers no moss, but an aging cheese does grow some mold. Which ain’t to say it isn’t tasty. Mold is just one interesting and colorful component of making cheese.

Erich Miller is a food enthusiast. Specifically, this once-vegan-Midwestern-farm-boy-fluent-in-Thai-world-traveler is a cheese enthusiast. Though he didn’t grow up making cheese, his background in local and homegrown encouraged this transplant to Manzanita to sample a different form of culture.

“Cheesemaking appeals to many different sides of me. I love to cook, eat, and I love science. It’s like the twelve-year old boy with a chemistry set meets good food. And it’s a wonderful local food; it ties me to this area and this climate.”

Erich started making the most difficult cheeses that he could: camembert and cheddar. He made and put into the aging process several batches of cheddar before he was able to try one; they were all “a little bit off.” Bacteria are the secret agents of cheese, and in a damp climate keeping the good bugs from the bad in the cheese is quite tricky. Camembert only ages for a month, so after the cheddar debacle Erich switched to a cheese he could slice into sooner. This allowed him more frequent adjustment to recipes and less waste of product. “It can be a pretty steep learning curve at first, but that’s part of the process, and the fun of it. Seeing what works and what doesn’t, what creates a certain flavor or texture.”

Camembert is temperamental too, and needs very specific conditions that make it hard to do at home. Inoculated molds must out-compete the native molds to get a “clean” camembert. Never daunted, Erich took a class at OSU and learned that one of his favorite cheeses to eat were also one of the most foolproof to make by the amateur: Swiss-style cheese. The process involves heating the milk to 130°, “which means that most of the bacteria that’s just floating around in my kitchen will be killed by the time the cheese is ready to be drained and formed.”

Cheese guyErich has a local source for raw cow’s milk, and occasionally will make goat cheese from another local source. “I go and get the milk at milking time, and it’s cheese within a few hours. Now that’s fresh and local! I love that aspect of the process.”

The basic soft cheeses, such as Mascarpone, Fromage Blanc, Paneer, crème fraiche, or cream cheese, are the easiest to make, involving milk heated to a certain temperature, an acid such as lemon juice or vinegar, and an eventual draining/straining of the curd to form a mild, usually spreadable product. They can be successfully made with milk from the store, but raw milk is fresher, and therefore preferable. It has it’s own unique bacteria and flavor that influence the cheese. Fresh mild cheeses, such as mozzarella, are best with raw milk. That being said, “No one who has access to any milk should ever buy Mascarpone. Especially if you can get tartaric acid . . . it is simple to make and so delicious!”

Erich ultimately would love to sell his cheeses, but stepping from home cheesemaking to a small scale commercial venture is a enormous leap. Getting the animals and facility costs a minimum of $150,000 (for goats). Even if you don’t plan to supply the milk yourself, there are many regulations and costs associated with buying milk from another source. At the moment Erich is interested in learning as much as he can and sharing his cheeses with friends.

Foodies and anti-corporate anarchists alike find the idea of DIY food exciting. From beer to pickles to cheese, making one’s own food is the new sign of both hip and sustainable. And why not? If making a good crème fraiche for your homegrown raspberries is as simple as lemon juice in cream left on the counter a few hours, what’s to lose? Homemade artisanal foods deliver not only taste but satisfaction of a job well done. Its not a new concept—our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were DIY by necessity.

“Anyone can make basic cheese,” Erich says. “It’s one of the easiest things to do, and just requires a little time and patience.”

Next weekend project? Say cheese!”

Getting started

Basic equipment: a stainless steel pot, a big whisk, a large knife to cut curd, a colander, thermometer, cheesecloth, and a spare fridge for aging. Semi-hard and hard cheeses require a mold and press to facilitate the draining and create the form of the cheese.

Resources: Home Cheesemaking 3rd ed, Ricki Carroll, Storey Publishing 2002.  This is the all purpose beginners book that includes the basic of home cheese making and a good array of recipes.

The Cheesemakers Manual 3rd Ed., Margaret Peters Morris, published by Glengarry Cheesemaking Inc.

[Fun Fact]: The bacteria b.levins is the same bacteria that creates body odor, and is the main bacteria present in the “stinky cheeses.” It makes the cheese more meaty and robust; the cheese itself doesn’t taste or smell like the rind.

Passion for Pasture

Onion Peak Dairy

Mike Grauwen of Onion Peak Dairy, Nehalem, Oregon

Organic: From Onion Peak Dairy to your refrigerator

BUYING ORGANIC is a lot like wearing designer jeans. Some of us are driven by substance, some by style, still others ‘cause everyone else is doing it. For every foodie-anarchist-dirt-under-the-nails consumer out there, there is at least one image-conscious shopper who has no idea where their food is coming from. We trust labels; life is busy, who has time to research everything they buy? But what does that organic label really mean?

Dairy products are one area where consumers see the highest price difference between conventional and organic. What’s really happening on the ground in organic dairies, and how do those factors affect cows, consumers, farmers and the planet?

Organic Valley signLocal Flavor

Mike and Melinda Grauwen are one of four organic milk producers in Tillamook County, selling their milk to the Organic Valley co-op. The Grauwens own Onion Peak Dairy, with a view of same plus their expansive pastureland in the Nehalem Valley. With 200 cows, Onion Peak isn’t a big operation, and Mike manages with just four employees, help from a daughter or two, and the moral support of several energetic dogs.

“I want to stay small. I still have the ability to be a part of the active work of the farm and connect with my workers and the cows daily.”

Staying small is one reason why Grauwen switched to organic. Farming is a gamble at the best of times, and he believes the way to be successful and make a living as a small farmer is to find a specialty market. Onion Peak transitioned from conventional five years ago, taking one year to make the switch. “It was an expensive year,” he remembers with a rueful smile. “I fed my cows organic feed for a year but got conventional prices for my milk. In hindsight it would have been easier to just get a new herd, but I couldn’t part with the cows. Not really.” The cows had “been in the family” so to speak, for years.

Grauwen is quietly passionate about dairy farming, and has a tremendous amount of knowledge. He breaks the differences between organic and conventional down to this: 1) feed—OG is 30% pasture or more, 70% grain; 2) growth hormones—OG prohibits; 3) antibiotics—OG says no go.

Helper guy

Farmhand Jake Donaldson

Corn is for tortillas, Grass is for cows

Feed is a key aspect to animal health, the taste of the product, and ultimately the health of the planet. Organic cows must have access to pasture 24 hours a day (though in fact larger dairies regularly violate this) and 30% of their feed must come from grass. The other 70% is mainly corn, which is not a part of their natural diet and which causes many of the health issues that necessitate antibiotics. “Bad” bacteria—like Ecoli 157—proliferate in the gut of primarily grain fed cows. “Cows historically don’t eat grain. If you take away the grain you take away that bacteria. When you look at all cows as a group, it’s definitely true that the less grain you feed the healthier they are,” explains Grauwen. He pastures his cows as much as possible, and feeds well over the 30% grass stipulation.

Corn, organic or not, is a monoculture crop, and is a participant in many evils from world food shortage to the colony collapse of bees. Organic pastureland—free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers—is hardly wilderness, but at least can be part of a viable living system.

Grauwen is passionate about his grass. “It’s why I moved to Tillamook County,” he laughs. “Our primary business here, really, is to grow grass. The grass tells us everything.” And, because his cows were mainly pastured anyway, another reason he switched to organic.

Organic dairying leads to robust soil and grass. Cows can be pastured earlier, longer, and stay healthier. Grass-fed cows=sweeter milk=happy consumers. “I’ve seen my pastures improve over 15 years . . . everything is interconnected . . . you make one step, and then everything kind of rearranges, then you make another step, and things rearrange, and you are changing your management and philosophies and these new things come about.”

Keeping it clean

Dropping antibiotics was the biggest change for Grauwen. Though grass-fed cows tend to be healthier, they still become unwell or sustain injury. In organic rules, sick cows must be removed from the herd and treated in isolation. If she gets well she still must be sold. Not a lot of motivation for farmers to treat sick animals. “It’s one of the flaws within organic,” Grauwen admits. “Costs a lot of money to treat one cow, and she’s lost to you as a milker no matter what.” As long as the animals aren’t in pain or losing weight they are still viable for meat but they cannot be rotated back into the herd.

Hormones are the biggest turn-off for consumers. Even though conventional milk producers can claim to be BST free, there is little enforcement of hormone use within the industry. The hormone isn’t easily detectable without expensive tests. Of course, it can therefore be in use in an organic setting too, especially the mega-cow factory dairies that supply the likes of the Horizon and many store brands. But the small organic farmer has much to lose by taking such a risk, and most small dairyfolk have a commitment to the ethics and standards of organic practice.

Papers, please

Certification is one big expense for farmers and a powerful cue consumers look to when making a buying choice. But it doesn’t guarantee quality or ethical practice.

If a farmer doesn’t get certified, he doesn’t have to pay the certifier. Thus the certifier is inherently invested in deciding the farm passes muster. Certifiers typically aren’t farmers, and when they come to a site they spend “10 minutes looking at the farm and 2 hours on the records. They aren’t farmers… only farmers can really come onto another farm and see what’s wrong,” Grauwen states.

Single cowCertifiers and processors are dependent on the big factory farms that provide a large quantity of product and pay top dollar for certification. The engine of the organic dairy industry is the factory farm—they help write the rules, sweeten the cash flow and keep the price down for end users—so there is no incentive to get rid of them.

“I think the bottom line is that consumers need to make their own assurances. They think they are getting so much more for their money buying organic, and in many cases they are, but there’s a lot of misinformation and holes in the system,” Grauwen admits.

Organic Valley is the best brand available to denizens of the North Coast. Unless you have a clandestine local milk source (most commercial dairies, OG or not, are contracted only to sell to their co-ops), the OV label will at least give consumers some chance for local organic milk. Onion Peak milk is picked up every other day and trucked to McMinnville. Cornucopia Institute ( is a non-profit watchdog for the dairy industry and rates Organic Valley with 4 out of 5 cows for quality.

At the end of the day

Despite the vagaries of farming, Grauwen clearly wouldn’t have life any other way. Descended from a Dutch dairy family, he grew up milking cows, and is the only child in his family who stuck with farming. Of his own family, one daughter stays on the farm and helps raise calves and milk. Being outside, doing diverse and physical work, seeing the changes in his land and animals—this is what Grauwen ruminates on, standing in the winter rain. “It’s good work, if you are cut out for it. Not easy, but . . .” he gestures to the land around him. “Look at all the life here. It’s a complex ecosystem, and we’re a part of it.”

Some Like it Raw

Raw milk enthusiasts are serious about their milk. Like other raw foodists, these folks claim that pasteurized dairy products are a spurious knock –off of the pure goodness cows have to offer. And they aren’t afraid of the potential health risks, because they know their farmers.

While raw milk is legal for sale in Oregon under certain regulations, farmers with more than 10 cows and who are contracted to sell to a co-op can get in big trouble for selling even a gallon of raw. The risks aren’t worth it, but often folks with one or two cows don’t have the means to keep their milk sterile. Still, a network of cow sharing and milk delivery car pools exists in Oregon and Washington. Farmers cannot advertise or deliver their raw product, so a kind of black market feeling pervades the raw milk scene. Cowsharing is one way around the delivery issue, and works kind of like a CSA where customers buy a share in a cow.

The Weston T. Price Foundation is one of the biggest proponents for raw milk. “Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.” (from their raw milk project website,

Weigh that with the info put forth by the ag industry: dozens of infectious diseases have been linked to the consumption of raw milk, including salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and one of the more deadly strains of E. coli that can cause kidney failure and sometimes death.The E. coli toxin basically destroys the internal organs from the inside out. Hmmmm . . .

Will you go raw?


Local Fare

Revolution Farms

Volunteers at Re-Evolution Farm in Manzanita. Photo: BrianSchulz

R-evolutionary Education

R-EVOLUTION FARMS in Nehalem is getting’ their education groove on, with affordable, accessible, and practical classes for all y’all putting on your food security hats. Ginger Salkowski and Co. get down to basics of chickens, beekeeping, small scale farming, marketing strategies for small farms, farmtech (infrastructure), solar technology and other off-the-grid bidness. This fantastic small farm, only a few years old, is burgeoning with food, energy, ideas, and community-building zest. The farm offers a new expanded CSA this year, for coast residents from Rockaway to Cannon Beach. Two new acres under cultivation extends the CSA season from May through Thanksgiving. Want to look around? The farm offers tours on Saturdays from noon-3.


  • Introduction to Permaculture for small farms & gardens. Saturday, April 9th: noon to 4pm, $40.
  • Raising chickens for eggs and meat. Saturday, April 16th: 1-4pm, $40.
  • Coming up: Loving your dirt; soil amendments, cover cropping and organic fertilizers: May 1st; Intro to Biodynamic compost and DIY compost tea brewers: May 8th; Building your own Mud Rocket stove: May 28th; Learn to Build Stuff, 7 day long farmitechture intensive: June 13-19th

Classes take place on the farm, 77281 Hwy 53—call or email for driving directions. Web: Email: Tel: 503-368-3044.

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Food Roots: On the job, online and on sale!

Move over Peace Corps, Uncle Sam’s got a brand new bag. FoodCorps is a new national service program being piloted in ten states this year. Good for Oregon as one of the many-called-few-chosen states, and the Oregon Dept. of Ag who is the sponsoring host for five FoodCorps Service Members. Tillamook County’s very own Food Roots has been selected as the only rural community service site (out of five state-wide sites). Service members will toil in the soil throughout Oregon, developing and tending school gardens, creating Farm to School programs and conducting hands-on nutrition education in communities of need. The ultimate goal of FoodCorps is to increase the health and prosperity of vulnerable children while investing in the next generation of farmers and public health leaders. Sound groovy? Check out for info on how to apply for member positions.

Food Roots also has a fresh new website. The new design is at the same address (, and provides a direct link to the North Coast Food Guide on the home page. Another new feature on website is the Beginning Farmer’s Resources page which provides links for individuals interested in pursuing a career in food production, farm internship/job shadowing, Federal and State Agriculture resources, and other food system related resources.

Food Roots Annual Incredible Edible Plant and Fruit Tree Sale! Fruit trees, veggies, flowers, and herbs. All veg starts grown in Tillamook County using organic methods; many heirloom and native varieties.

Saturday, April 23rd from 10 AM – 2 PM at Food Roots’ Office location, 2105 Fourth Street in Tillamook. Web: Email: Tel: 503-842-3154, x2

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Growing Edibles on the North Coast–Theresa Retzlaff

On Saturday, April 30, at 1:00 p.m. the Seaside Public Library hosts Organic Farmer Teresa Retzlaff as she speaks about Growing Edibles on the North Coast. Thes event will take place in the Community Room and refreshments will be served.

Teresa Retzlaff is an Organic Farmer, Nursery Grower, and Gardener who has been growing on leased land at Ostman Farm in Seaside for many years. She recently purchased a new piece of land called 46 North Farm and is in the process of turning it into a working operation. On the new acreage Teresa will be growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers, and of course she will be selling her great edible plant starts for all of you coastal gardening enthusiasts.

If you are stumped about growing vegetables in our short and cantankerous growing season, Teresa will be sharing her expertise on the subject. 1131 Broadway, across from the Swimming Pool and Youth Center. (503)738-6742 or visit us at and

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Lamb with mumLambs=Springtime; Help them out at Lamb School

Love the sight of young lambs gamboling in the field as one of the heralds of Spring? Ever think that you could be involved in bringing the fleecy darlings into the world? Or thinking of starting your own farm and want a little hands-on? Look no further than the Wahkiakum County/WSU Extension Lamb Management School.

April 29 or 30: 9am-4pm. At the Patrick & Hollie McKay-Beach farm on Puget Island, WA. Contact Loren and Caroline Jennings, Tel: 360-849-4023.

CSAs • Your Community Supported Agriculture Food boxes

CSA boxThe North Coast grows more and more food sovereign and secure! Now coastal residents have even more choice for their Community Supported Agriculture food boxes. CSA’s support small farms in good times and bad, and offer a fun, regular, “grab bag” of veggies and other items as specified. Lower prices than market plus the investment in your local farm make a CSA make sense.

  • R-evolution Gardens: Sign up for multiple seasons, 7-week blocks, whole or half shares. Seasons runs May through November and include veggies and an option for eggs. Rockaway to Nehalem delivery on Wednesdays, Manzanita to Cannon Beach on Saturdays. Limited to 30 shares per delivery date. Work for trade options available. Excellent website has all the details:; 503-368-3044.
  • Green Angel Gardens: Shares available in 8-week blocks year round, weekly or every other week. Boxes may include organic veggies, fruit, Blue Scorcher bread, local eggs. Delivery to Long Beach, Gearhart, Astoria & Ocean Park on Fridays. Work for trade options available. Website:; 360-244-0064.
  • Walluski Organics: Shares for this new, primarily indoor-grown organic CSA can be purchased for the whole season or three month blocks (5/5-7/28, 8/4-10/28) and will include plenty of customizable options: eggs, and preferences for specific veggies from week to week, depending on availability. Delivery for weekly boxes in Astoria and Warrenton; half shares are available as a bi-weekly box or weekly ½ box. Email:; 503-470-5530.

Astoria Indoor Garden Supply – Grow Grow Grow Your Own

Astoria Indoor Garden Supply

Oscar Nelson and Gary Reynolds at Astoria Indoor Garden continue to expand at the Corner of 13th and Exchange. Look for Disk Frisbee opportunities this spring/summer in the large parking area, and hydroponic demos in their adjoining retail space.

Mention hydroponics, grow lights, and reflective surfaces in the context of indoor gardening and many minds will travel in one direction. While plenty of folks garden inside for recreation, even more are looking at the food security and self-sufficiency factor. In challenging climates or urban settings, or for those without other access to community gardens or land, setting aside that spare bedroom for a bit o’ lettuce, peas, and beans makes economic sense.

Of course, indoor gardening, with its dependence on electrically powered lights, hydroponic/aeroponic systems, and ventilation, isn’t the logical method for the post-tsunami getting-back-to-nature scenarios. But in the interim, in the interests of perking up our long gray winters (and summers!), tomatoes beckoning from the walk-in closet don’t sound half bad.

Astoria Indoor Gardening is the bright idea of Oscar Nelson and Gary Reynolds. The two North coasters, strangers until being introduced by a mutual acquaintance last summer, each had the idea to start an indoor garden shop. Nelson found the backing, and together he and Reynolds performed a kamikaze remodel of their location. “Seventeen very adventurous working days” turned the storefront from raw concrete and junk into the bright colorful space that now greets the customer’s eye.

Nelson and Reynolds are excited about indoor gardening, whether it’s houseplants, veggies, or flowers. And they’ve got big plans.

“We want a greenhouse on the roof, a community indoor garden, get a whole room for starts planted for the Sunday market. Oscar and I are going a different route than almost any indoor shop around. We are actually showing people that you can do this,” states Reynolds.

Some starts are at the shop now, and gardeners can find all the equipment they need to begin growing indoors, from simple ebb and flow systems to more complex set-ups. Seeds, fertilizer, bulbs—Astoria Indoor has all you need to get up and growing.

Look for their booth at the Master Gardener’s seminar on April 16. Astoria Indoor Garden Supply is open 7 days a week, from 10-6. Oscar and Gary are sincere, friendly, and willing to help with all your indoor gardening needs and questions. Tel: 503.468.0606 web: email:
Hipfish finds Astoria Indoor Gardening owners Oscar Nelson and Gary Reynolds at home, as it were, at their several-month old venture in Astoria.

Hipfish: So why indoor gardening? Why you? Why now?

Oscar Nelson: I came from the auto industry, but ultimately wasn’t happy working for someone else and the constant consumerism. I wanted to do something on my own, more in line with my values and beliefs. I found a private investor, got business plans together, and was brought together with Gary. With some money behind us, we were able to turn this garage—in about 17 very adventurous working days—from raw concrete and just a lot of stuff to what is here now. Our customers and community have been awesome. We’ve had some ups and downs with folks thinking we’re something we’re not. But overall people are just ecstatic that we’re here. More and more people want to grow their own food, take control of their lives.

Gary Reynolds: I couldn’t do construction anymore and had the idea for the store for a while. A friend brought me together with Oscar and here we are. We’re living our dream—we both show up, slap each other and say, ‘are we really doing this?’ It’s great to be a part of the community here, with the Co-op and Astoria Hempworks, the Fort George . . . We want a greenhouse on the roof, a community indoor garden, get a whole room for starts planted for the Sunday market. Oscar and I are going a different route than almost any indoor shop around. We are actually showing people that you can do this.

HF: What can people expect to find here?

ON: We have all the supplies for people to do indoor gardening.  We have simple systems for people starting out—ebb and flow containers that will fit in the corner of a room—to more elaborate set-ups. A variety of lights, heirloom, non-GMO seeds, nutrients, and soil. “Smart pots,” made of a special polypropylene fabric, that supply more oxygen to the plant roots—lots of things people have never seen before. As Gary said, we are getting geared up to do starts for the Sunday market, and we’ve got houseplants, vegetable and flower starts in the shop right now. We have a big vision. There is a so much to know and do with gardening indoors. You know, you are basically playing Nature. The roots have different requirements being grown inside . . . the lights, temperature, everything needs timing. It’s a delicate balance, almost like an artwork getting these things in line.

HF: Seems like indoor gardening is a trend; there’s a few shops in place or getting started here on the coast. So why would I garden indoors? What is the basic space requirement I would need?

GR: 4’ by 4’ for someone that is just beginning is really the way to go. So you don’t get overwhelmed. We advise people to start small, see if you like it, and if it fits your lifestyle. I hate to see people buy thousands of dollars worth of equipment and then they never use it. You can get a lot of food out of a 4’ x 4’ space–like a walk-in closet.

ON: The reason to garden indoors is to have control over it. Outdoors you are constrained to seasons and times; having the lights indoors enables you to garden on your time. The lights affect your mood and the whole indoor space where you use them. Plus there’s less watering with the automatic systems, and virtually no weeding. It’s great for folks who can’t do all the physical labor of outdoor gardening.

GR: Different systems are available, from reflective tents to basic ebb and flow systems. You can get started for about $350. You can grow a lot of food for that.

ON: Like outdoor gardening it’s really about seeing life from the plant’s perspective. Once you get the details down of timing, nutrients and so on, you can have incredibly productive plants. And many people think plants grown indoors taste better.

HF: Do you find people using indoor systems to augment outdoor gardens?

GR: Well, for example, last year we had a really bad summer. If you want to grow tomatoes say, it’s almost impossible to grow them outside. With this system, you can grow them year round if you want. It’s a great winter project. It’s a trend for people up north, like Alaska.

ON: Being able to provide for yourself at least something, especially in the coming years, is going to be imperative. You can’t rely on big corporations to give you everything you need.

HF: Is there anything that you just can’t grow inside?

GR: Not really—space is the issue. Pumpkins and squash might be a challenge . . . you just have to have the space. You can grow peas, beans  . . . as long as you’ve got a way for them to grow up the wall.

ON: The grow boxes we have, you can grow 10 stalks of corn in one of them. Eggplant, potatoes. It’s amazing what you can do, and all with less work than traditional gardening.

GR: We’re not the average joe indoor garden shop you come into. Give us some time, be patient, and you’ll see us grow. We welcome everyone’s interests: orchids, veggies, whatever. We’re happy to help in any way. We really want to be a part of the community. We’ll be at the Master Gardener’s seminar at the fairgrounds on April 16, with information, starts and equipment—come say hello.

Astoria Indoor Garden Supply is open 7 days a week, from 10-6. Oscar and Gary are sincere, friendly, and willing to help with all your indoor gardening needs and questions. Tel: 503.468.0606 web: email:

Fun Fact:
Growing orchids indoors cleanses the air of volatile compounds—plus it’s hip!






Yes Virginia, Spring is coming! Master Gardeners annual Seminar April 16 CC Fairgrounds

Sean Hogan

Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery

Seed catalogs not doing it for you anymore? Need even more of a promise of Spring shot in the arm? Mark your calendars for the Clatsop County Master Gardeners “Spring into Gardening” seminar at the Clatsop Co. fairgrounds, Saturday, April 16 from 9am to 4pm.

The day focuses on the topic of coastal gardening, and features keynote speaker Sean Hogan. “Amazing Plants for the Northwest” is Hogan’s topic; this Portland born, world-traveling, and mega-knowledgeable horticulturalist owns Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island. Hogan has lectured extensively in North America and Europe about his explorations of South America, South Africa and the western regions of the United States and northern Mexico. His writing and photos can be found in a wide range of horticultural and botanical literature and magazines. In addition he has edited approximately 20,000 entries of Flora (2003) and Trees for All Seasons (2008) both published by the Timber Press.

Seminar hi-jinks include a plant sale, vendor area, classes, advice (the Dr. is in!) and a raffle. Local land-girl extraordinaire Teresa Retzlaff, co-owner of 46 North Farm and Development Director for the North Coast Land Conservancy will advise on coast-loving edible plants. Beating back the bugs organically will be addressed by OSU Extension agent Chip Bubl, and Joy Jones, also of OSU Extension service, will be on hand to sow encouraging words, tips, and practical information about soil amendment.

Register before April 11 for $15, or ante up $18 at the door; Seniors $12 and students are free with a valid ID. Contact the OSU Extension office to register: 2001 Marine Dr., Astoria; 503-325-8573.

Scholarship Award For Seniors

Clatsop Co. Master Gardeners are greening up more than your thumb and your garden. The group also offers a scholarship for graduating seniors interested in horticulture. Awards go to one or two county graduates, and range from $500 to $1000. Candidates can pick up an application from their high school counselor or OSU Extension. Applications due April 15, 2011.

Oh Rescue bee, honey…

BeeSLOGGING THROUGH knee deep, fine-as-sand soil, sweating under the noonday sun, panting with the sweet thrill of making it to the top and boy weren’t those sandwiches going to taste good . . . the hike to the summit of Mt. St. Helen’s was arduous but worth it. We had just settled on the edge of the crater, mountains stretching up and down two states like the vertebrae of a huge slumbering earth monster, when your friendly neighborhood law enforcer tripped over to our picnic site.

“Hi folks. Beautiful day, isn’t it? Can I see your permit?”

Uh. Yeah. Permit . . . yes, my hiking date had mentioned that we were supposed to have one to be up here, but . . .

“Well . . .”

And out of nowhere came a pint-sized stripy superhero, flying smacko! into my arm.

The bee buzzled off and I was left shouting ow! while ranger lady worried about band-aids and anaphylactic shock, hiking permit totally forgotten. I’m grateful to bees for more than a sting, of course (though in all probability my little hero wasn’t a honey bee). Honey, often called the “food of the gods,” is truly one of the most miraculous and delectable foodstuffs we get to eat. Thinking about the process of how honey is made—basically by bees sucking up nectar and then having other bees suck the nectar from their stomachs and “chew” it before spreading it into the combs—one might not be inclined to want to ingest it. What other products chewed by bugs do we eat? But the delicious syrupy goldenness of it, flavored uniquely by season and flower, is too good not to enjoy.

My favorite way to savor honey is on English muffins, corn bread, or a bowl of cereal, or occasionally right off the spoon. Raw, unprocessed honey is a superfood that provides antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients. Many commercial “big brand” honeys are pasteurized and even contain high fructose corn syrup. Heating honey can destroy its beneficial qualities, so while it’s often used in baking

and cooking, the most healthful way to enjoy honey is right out of the jar, or simply paired with other foods. Try a good blue cheese, with crisp rye toasts drizzled with buckwheat honey. Or pears and smooth, deep miticrema, a soft, sheep’s milk cheese from Spain, accompanied by lavender honey. True vanilla bean ice cream with raspberries and wildflower honey—what could be sweeter? And an idea I’d like to try: robust buckwheat honey drizzled over chili (never mind the cornbread!)

Ancient civilizations had varied ideas for this golden elixir, and used honey as embalming fluid (only for the elite), to make the honeycakes necessary to cross to the underworld after death (Cerberus was hungry), as an antibacterial agent to heal wounds and burns, a gold equivalent to pay taxes, and a secret weapon to defeat armies. “Mad honey,” made by bees from the nectar of laurels, rhododendrons, and azaleas, contained compounds that could put one alternately in an ecstatic trance or complete nervous system collapse. Hmmmm . . . seems there’s more to this substance that sweetening tea!

[Fun Facts]:
+ Honey was used to preserve the head of Vlad III Tepes, better known as Dracula, in route to the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
+ Almost all bees we see gathering nectar are females.
+ The average person is not dangerously allergic to bee stings; in fact said average person can tolerate about 10 bee stings per pound of body weight. But maybe don’t try this at home . . .