In an effort to get more involved in the agricultural community, I decided to take full advantage of the first sunny Spring day and venture out to a local sustainable farm. I drove up the gravel driveway, found a parking spot, and opened my car door. The air was fresh, the sun warm on my shoulders, and the walkway muddy. My footsteps, one after another, squished noisily as I made my way forward. To my surprise, the farm was already busy with workers and volunteers.
21 Acres is an organic farm located in Woodinville, WA. It is an innovative, community-driven project that serves as an agricultural and environmental learning center for people of all ages. The farm is supported by local farmers, businesses and organizations, the WSU Small Farms Program, Growing Washington, and a faithful following of volunteers. Adjacent to the City of Woodinville and to the Burke Gilman Trail in the Sammamish Valley, the farm is just as much country as it is urban. Interpretive trails and signs allow visitors to meander through the grounds and farm plots are used to demonstrate sustainable and organic farm practices. Educating both young and old, 21 Acres shows just how important locally grown food is to a sustainable lifestyle, from farm to table.
It wasn't long before I was greeted. In fifteen minutes there would be a farm tour. So to fill the time, I did a first walk around. I joined a group of students and volunteers from the local community college who were celebrating Cesar Chavez day. They were planting native plants and working on other needed farm tasks. I soon made my way back and joined the gathering for the farm tour. The tour is part of the Sustainable Saturday Series that occurs every first Saturday of the month from February to November. My tour group consisted of other curious urban escapees who also felt the desire to reconnect to nature, dig in the dirt, and feed chickens.
On the tour, I learned about a shed they had built (seen in picture on the right) where green building practices were used in the construction. A green roof collects water for the nearby plants. The walls are insulated with recycled denim. A terrace of hops provides shade for the structure in the summer and the southern window exposure brings heat to cold winter days. In the coming weeks, 21 Acres will break ground with a new agricultural building that will be built according to our Nation's highest green building standards and will serve as a structure to provide a venue for regional small farmers to sell their goods and services and store and preserve their produce. I was very excited to hear that this building, upon completion, will include a community kitchen where cooking classes and demonstrations will take place. Essentially that means, that a small-scale organic farmer could plant, grow, harvest, preserve, and sell their produce all in one place! 21 Acres also has a community supported agriculture (CSA) program that anyone can join and, for a fee, pick up bags of farm produce each week.
As the tour continued down the interpretive trails, we past an orchard, goats, chickens, an apiary, or bee yard, greenhouses, and acres of freshly tilled farm plots. There is no question, 21 Acres is busily humming with activity. And as my tour came to a close, I felt it wouldn't be long before I returned again. I made my way back to my car, shoes muddy and spirits high, and heard an enthusiastic voice from afar say, see you again Erica!