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The Orchard, the Rain, and the Race

Week of April 26, 2015

I really enjoy being involved in my kiddo’s activities, so whether one is playing ball, running track, or at play practice I am “moving mountains” to make it to their events! And this time of year, when farming is pressing it literally feels like moving a mountain! I am sure most of you can relate! Who isn’t busy?! I find myself farming between games and practices and at night! I am hoping to get more peas in the ground next week in between rain events this and get a good chunk of potatoes planted. I remember thinking “Who needs headlights on their tractors?” A farmer who has active kids, that’s who needs headlights on their tractor!

Well the other night, Stephen and I had just returned from little league practice and as is our nightly custom, we wandered out to the orchard to check on the mason bees, blossoms, gold finches, sparrows and tent caterpillars.

I love the orchard this time of year; the trees are waking up and the blossoms smell incredible and look amazing. I love all the activity from the birds to bees. Stephen at the ripe old age of 8 has a good eye for the orchard and often beats me to our usual check points. Bandit our new lab/collie puppy (being a collie and being a puppy) is usually out ahead looking for moles, voles, or field mice while Chungo, our old timer lab, takes his time to get out with us. In fact more often than not, Chungo and I are traveling together and Stephen and Bandit are out in front J.

For this mission, the clouds were foretelling a wet adventure and we knew it. As the clouds were getting darker and filling with water, and as night was encroaching, the natural progression looked to be a downpour! We were busy hunting hard for those defoliating caterpillars, working to remove them from the trees, when one big drop hit, followed by another big drop and another until it was going to be a soaker of an event. Before us in the branches, there was one last caterpillar nest to pull off the trees, and then another and another! At last Stephen says, “My sweatshirt isn’t very good in the rain” and in an instant, he takes off for the house!

Since I have an equally strong desire to not get any wetter and also have longer legs, I was able to catch up and get back to the house first. Now, if truth be told, I had a little help here:  as soon as Stephen took off running, so did Bandit our mostly collie puppy, who quickly caught up to Stephen and then began to herd him towards the barn and not the house. VICTORY was mine as I arrived at the house first – marginally drier than Stephen, Bandit and Chungo!



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Apple Blossoms

I love seeing blossoms on my fruit trees. It means that I have a chance to harvest fruit this fall. It means that there will be food for a whole bunch of pollinators like Honey bees, Mason bees, Bumble bees. Now, I just need them to show up! Of course if they do show up in droves, I will be thinning fruit like crazy because there are a bazillion flowers this year, and if all of them set fruit –WOW!

Ideally, from a farmer’s perspective, about 50% pollination would be great. It would take less time to hand thin and the fruit would be able to “size” up quicker! Hand thinning takes a ton of time and is very monotonous; however, thinning translates to larger fruit because there is less competition for the nutrients!

This year our neighbor is no longer raising Honeybees and so I am trying Mason bees. Mason bees (from all the information I have been reading) are excellent pollinators. The challenge with this spring is that it has been really erratic and the blossoms on the trees are out in front of the pollinators. It will be interesting to see how much fruit actually sets, based on the earlier bloom time this season.

In our pear block, the Kosui Asian pears were way out in front of the Conference pears. Normally, they are supposed to cross pollinate each other. It looks like the Bosc Pears will be blooming with the Conference pears though – something else that normally doesn’t happen. These last two might cross pollinate each other which rarely happens.  Farming!?!?!?!

It is the most beautiful and disheartening thing to see all the blossoms but not have pollinators out in force. As a farmer, I really have very little control of the environment. I can prune on time, I can fertilize, I can even plan for my neighbors exit from beekeeping, but in the larger picture, I humbly submit to you that my part is very small. I tend to roll with what nature brings me, I do plan and I will mitigate, but for the most part I am working with nature and its natural laws.

Really, no matter what I do and probably what you do, we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on our part, but do the best we can with what we got and leave the rest to the Lord.

May there be fruit to harvest this fall!



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Healthy Choices

Klesick Farms customer, Nancy, sent us a fun project that her 1st. grade daughter, Anna did on healthy food options. We love hearing how our Klesick boxes of good impact and inspire the families we serve for good, and wanted to share this with you!

Nancy writes:

“Every March our homeschool co-op on Camano Island has a “SHOWCASE NIGHT” where kids can show off talents on stage, projects they’ve completed or share knowledge they’ve acquired.

This year my 1st grader, Anna, did a project on “Healthy Choices”. We talked about foods as we shopped, we watched documentaries, she helped make some healthy meals, we learned some cooking basics, learned about what sugar does to your body and how it makes you feel, etc. We recorded all of this by taking photos and putting them on a display board. We also wanted to talk about the cost of healthy choices versus ‘junk food and fast food choices’ because some people argue it’s too expensive to eat healthy.

We gathered a number of unhealthy choices as well as ‘a box of good’ from Klesick Family Farm to show people two options. The junk food actually ended up costing more and we had to drive somewhere to get all of it. Anna had fun having people guess which was more expensive, the box of good, or the box of junk food. For those who guessed correctly, she gave them a fruit kabob which she enjoyed making – a yummy healthy choice, rather than a candy prize.

Each week, Klesick’s ‘box of good’ just shows up on our door step! It’s a healthy choice, because you can choose it when you aren’t rushed. When our life is harried and crazy running to sports, ballet, and various classes, we often make bad food choices. But, this beautiful ‘box of good choices’ arrives and helps you make a healthy choice without really even thinking. We included some of the other healthy choices that we love on her picture board display, like hiking, walking, spending time with people you love, serving others, etc. We’re glad that Klesick Farms is part of the healthy choices in our lives! My 8 year old son actually prefers vegetables to some sweets and I think the weekly routine of being delivered a ‘present’ of produce on our doorstep has really influenced this! It’s always so EXCITING to see what’s inside :)”

Hansen project2  Hansen project

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Molly The Green Sea Turtle

Maleah Klesick wanted to contribute to the newsletter this week, and give Farmer Tristan a break! Here’s a story she wrote after learning about sea turtles and the impact our environment has on their life cycle.

Hi I’m Molly, a green sea turtle from Florida. I will tell you a little bit about myself. From the start I had to fight to survive, I think that many of my brothers and sisters got eaten by foxes or raccoons before they hatched. After I hatched I had minutes to get to the sea before I was eaten by birds and crabs. When I reached the sea the waves greeted me, in a not so friendly way. I will always remember this beach, in a couple of years I will come back to lay my eggs.

About 4 years later, I am full grown, being a curious turtle, I saw a fishing boat and floated a little too close. By that I mean got caught in the fishing line. I washed up on shore, my heart was in my ears, but luckily a lady saw me and called Clearwater Marine Aquarium. (C.M.A.) the volunteers got there a couple minutes later. They untangled me, put me in a stretcher and drove to C.M.A. I got my name after the lady who found me.

My cuts and gashes weren’t life threatening injuries so I was able to be released into the wild. My diet was mostly squid, capelin, and leafy greens, honestly though I preferred the greens. After fixing my injuries the C.M.A. staff set a date for me to be released. On July 26, 2014 I was put on a stretcher and was driven to the beach where I had been rescued three months ago and I was released back into the wild.

Maleah Klesick


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Democracy in the Grocery Isle?

One of the more interesting takeaways from the state-based battle to enact GMO food ingredient labeling has been the deluge of money that Monsanto, their biotech allies, and Big Food corporate interests have been willing to spend to drown out your right-to-know about what you are putting in your mouth. Cornucopia’s research reveals that these supporters of ignorance have collectively showered more than $100 million on the four state referendums to date, in California, Washington, Colorado and Oregon.

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United, whatever constraints existed on corporate spending in elections have evaporated. Although state referendums are a different electoral animal, the willingness of corporate power to spend all that they need to prevail has been fully demonstrated. They have juiced the system and tilted electoral power in their direction.

While Monsanto and their allies have thus far proven successful—albeit narrowly in three of the four states—the handwriting may be on the wall. Good food activists are growing increasingly aware that they hold power in the marketplace that even the corporate behemoths must respect.

It is somewhat ironic that democracy may break out in the marketplace while it is being squelched at the ballot box. Clearly, the biotech forces and Big Food need us to buy their products in our consumer society. Yet in spite of their sophisticated, expensive advertising and packaging, increasing numbers of conscious consumers are doing their own food and product research (fueled by help from organizations like Cornucopia).

Using their heightened awareness and their focused purchasing power, these savvy eaters are forcing companies like Kashi (owned by Kellogg), WhiteWave, Organic Valley, Kraft, and Stonyfield to make healthier changes to products. Why? For the most part, these companies are terrified of how their investors and/or Wall Street will react and punish them for unresponsive arrogance and diminished sales.

Amplify your power as a conscious eater. Investigate our various food and commodity product scorecards (visit, and then share this information and the related web links with your social network. This research is regularly updated so that you and your friends can make the best “vote” in the marketplace.

This story originally appeared in the spring issue of The Cultivator, The Cornucopia Institute’s quarterly print publication. Used by permission.