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To Serve or be Served

cereal on a spoon

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” John Kennedy

“No individual has any right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him/her distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.” George Washington Carver

“We are going to need a whole bunch of healthy people to take care of the young, old and in between for the foreseeable future.” Tristan Klesick

I really don’t belong in this list of quotes, but my heart is heavy. I have this foreboding sense that America and the rest of civilization is heading for a preventable health catastrophe. I know that I am writing this newsletter to a healthier group, AKA Klesick’s customers.

Just last week, I saw a headline that said, “cereal manufacturers are going to sweeten their products to increase sales.” The nexus of Calories and Capitalism is the root cause of much of it, coupled with the low nutritional value and a desire for cheap food–WHAM! Add to that recipe a more sedentary lifestyle (double WHAMMY) and you have the making of a preventable health catastrophe.

Health is a complicated issue and It is hard to simplify the current health crisis. But food would be a logical starting point to reverse this frightening health trend. Can diet have an impact? Can eating less sugar and fat and salt have an impact? Can drinking more water and less coffee, soda, alcohol have an impact? Can eating more vegetables and fruit have an impact? Can just eating less have an impact? The Answer to these rhetorical questions is a resounding YES!

Can we wait for DC to implement a better food policy? Can we wait for the Grocery Manufacturers of America to produce healthier products? Can we expect Lobbyist to not help elect legislator’s that support the status quo? The answer to these rhetorical questions is a resounding NO!

Thankfully, as you also know, just adding one more serving of vegetables and fruit per day will do wonders for most Americans and adding two or three more servings per day would downgrade our national health crisis to a health issue.

When John Kennedy was posing the quote above to America he was not thinking about Health and probably neither was George Washington Carver. But today, continuing to make better food choices is critical for our own personal health and our families health. But I would also contend that remaining as healthy as long as possible will be critical for the foreseeable future, so those that are healthy and have made healthy choices can serve as long as possible.

I want to be one of the ones who is healthy enough to serve for as long as possible!


Tristan Klesick

Farmer, Community Health Advocate


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Doing Nothing is Not Doing Nothing

Doing nothing couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you are “doing nothing”, that means you are doing something but just consider it not as valuable as doing something. For sure, even when you think you are doing nothing, your mind and body are still doing something. And we can all be thankful for that! If it was up to us to remember to breathe or have our heart beat or make another 225 billion cells every day, there would be a whole lot less of us just doing nothing. (Wink)

I spend a lot of time volunteering in the Salmon/Farm and Food (In)Security arenas. I use the term arena, because a lot of this work is like an arena of old. The decisions that have been and are being made have long term impacts. “Doing Nothing” in these two arenas is still doing something. It is still a choice being made and the outcomes of those choices will have impacts on our environments—the places we play or grow our food or where the wild critters live. Or, if we continue to hand out food freely or choose to subsidize food or decide to implement a “work for food” model, all those choices will have impacts too.

Here is a prime example. The steel workers (150,000) of PA and OH are really excited that President Trump is slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum. The soybean farmers (300,000) are not excited because China might slap tariffs on their products. In this case doing nothing would continue to benefit the soybean farmers and farmers in general, but still depress our steel industry. Choices do have impacts. Ironically, if soybeans have a tariff slapped on them, those farmers will have to sell the food to more Americans. Food prices will then drop (ouch/YAY), but your car prices will go up (as if they could charge anymore for a car)!

Nothing happens in a vacuum and change is hard. Just because a policy is not changed doesn’t mean that everything is better. We are just deciding to do nothing different and choosing to get the same results. That might be fine, but that is not doing nothing.

There are lots of broken systems in America today. They were implemented to solve a need and that need was solved, but at the same time we also created a whole industry around serving that need. It became an entitlement with elected officials, government employees, lawyers, doctors, community activists, universities and private businesses all lining up to keep meeting that need. Pick the need: agricultural subsidies, welfare payments, disability, education subsidies, defense contracts, clean air and water, etc. As one legislator shared with me, “Every program has a constituent.” I would add that every time we support/create a new government program, we also create the opportunity for that program to live on and on and on.

Unfortunately, there is 17 trillion dollars of debt in America demanding that changes happen. I want to be out in front of those changes and be working on local solutions to national problems that exist locally here, and I am investing my time to do so. Because I am farmer, I have a unique platform to affect change in both the farm/salmon and food security arenas.

I hope it is not lost on you that when you buy a box of good for your family or for the food bank, you too are also saying yes to leaving this community a better place for the next generations, a place with livable communities, good jobs, fresh air and clean water. Supporting a local business and local farms is not doing nothing – IT IS DOING SOMETHING!


Together we are making a difference, a local difference.


Thank you,


Tristan Klesick

Your Farmer and Community Health Advocate

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Spring Is Here

Does anyone else have a little extra spring in their step? I know I do. The sunshine draws you outside and the increasing day length, WOW, what a gift that is! Every year many of the PNW folks wander around in a mental fog from November to February – and farmers are no different.

It always amazes me that I will be busy all winter and then as soon as the days start to lengthen and the weather starts to warm, “BAM!” It is as if I was Rip Vanwinkle. I get a deep breath, start to notice how the ground is drying out, the spring birds are making an appearance, the ladybugs and other insects that call this place home are flittering about. The whole farm awakens from its winter rest! Now it is time to farm, for the local season to begin.

On our local farm we are still a few weeks away from actively farming the soil. It is ironic, that I consider driving my tractor and getting the seed beds ready for planting as active farming?!?!?!

Haven’t I been farming all winter? I have planned our planting rotations and ordered seeds and moved and repaired the greenhouse (thank you wind and snow). I have purchased different equipment, sold other equipment and done maintenance on said equipment. Our family is seeding 800 lettuce transplants every week. We also have been pruning and have just landed 4 dump truck loads of compost.

Sounds like we have been actively farming all winter, but…. There is something about “turning” the soil for a vegetable farmer that signals it is time to farm. Working with nature, discerning when it is dry enough to help the soil get ready to grow food, to feed (fertilize) the soil so the soil will feed the plants, so the plants can grow.

My job as a farmer is to help the soil, enhance the soil and work with the soil. The soil’s job and its host of helpers (bacteria, fungi, earthworms, etc.) is to feed the plants. That is why I just landed 4 dump truck loads of compost to help feed the soil, so the soil can grow the plants as healthy as possible, so the farmer can harvest the healthiest plants and deliver them to you, so you can eat the healthiest plants.

This is why I farm -the eater, the farmer and the soil working together in a mutually beneficial and respectful partnership.


Cheers to your health,







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Moka Joe Coffee

This week we are introducing a new line of Coffee from Moka Joe in Anacortes. Their coffee is Organic, Fair trade, intentionally sourced and locally roasted.

Here is what Dan, the Owner of Moka Joe, forwarded to me about their company values:

“Moka Joe is a local, family owned company in Anacortes, Washington. Our goals are to provide Organic, sustainably grown, and Fair Trade coffee. We also aim to provide livable wage jobs for career oriented people. We source coffees from over 14 countries based on relationship and quality farming practices. When you purchase our Café Femenino coffees a portion of that money directly affects the farmers and their families. We believe in supporting family and community.”

At Klesick’s, we are “all in” with Dan’s mission and message. Great company focus, great coffee and intentionally making a difference in the lives of the Coffee farmers they source from.

Just like BIJA chocolates, Moka Joe works hard to source and find great products that are locally produced, but does so with an intentional focus to add financially to the lives of the producers and farmers that raise the base ingredients for great chocolate and coffee for all of us to enjoy.

I’m also excited about the switch for another reason. It will allow us to bring you even fresher coffee because we will be picking it up twice a week. That’s right. We will be going to Anacortes to get it twice a week. This accomplishes two things for you:

1. Order dates are streamlined. Same order date for Coffee and Milk. The new cutoff days to order fresh Roasted Coffee or fresh bottled Twin brooks Creamery Milk are Fridays at 8 a.m. for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday customers and Wednesdays at 8 a.m. for Friday and Saturday customers.

2. Fresher ingredients. With the change in order dates, your coffee will be as fresh as possible, just like your fresh produce and milk.

For the next 3 weeks we are going to be featuring Moka Joe 12oz. and 2lb bags of ground or whole bean coffee. We will also be adding a line of K-Cups for Keurig 2.0 machines. Order today and enjoy locally roasted coffee that tastes great and puts more money in the hands of the coffee farmers. A win-win.



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It's About to Begin…

It has been a hard Spring. The weather windows have not been in our favor so far. As I write, I am wracking my brain trying to figure out if I have been spoiled the last few years and have forgotten when Spring normally starts.
Last year was early. We had lots of spinach, beets, lettuce, and peas up and growing by this time. This year not so much, not so much. Last year was also a welcome relief as more normal summer weather patterns returned. But, when it started raining in the Fall, it just didn’t quit and still hasn’t. But, as a farmer, if I had to pick, last year’s weather was pretty good.
Two years ago, ugh. I shudder even to talk about it. There was no Spring. Just went right to Summer. It was great. Everything got going early, but it was a ton of management to keep crops alive and grass growing. Not my favorite year.
You might say that 2015 was a year where good farmers struggled to break even. I have often described the two seasons like this: in 2016 farmers made money by just getting out of bed; in 2015 farmers lost money when they got out of bed. When the weather is unpredictable, it really complicates the already delicate dance that farmers do with nature and the environment.
Every Spring, western Washington farmers pray for less water in order for our fields to dry out, and then, we pray for a little water later in the season so we don’t have to turn on the irrigation. Then we start praying for an Indian Summer so we can harvest the fall crops. Aren’t Indian Summers incredible?
Now that I am thinking of it, I imagine many of you have a similar prayer schedule too!
Change is inevitable and the weather is constantly changing. After 20 years of growing vegetables, I have realized that every farm season is different. And as a farmer/steward of the land, I make the best choices I can, with the best information I have, to do the best possible job I can, to grow food.
This year’s farm season is just beginning and a few more days of dry weather will go a long way towards erasing the rainy past few weeks.
Good food is always coming your way. Local food will be a little later, but it will be coming.

Tristan Klesick, Farmer, Health Advocate

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Dinner Time

When we moved to our current farm back in 2003, something was missing. Our farm isn’t overly large at 38 acres, but when you consider that at any given moment you could be ¼ mile away from home, Joelle and I needed an effective way to get the attention of the farmhands (AKA our children). This old house probably at one time or another had a “triangle or bell” to announce it was time for dinner, but it wasn’t obvious where it would have been.

We decided on a big cast iron bell that I tracked down from Pennsylvania. It has a clear and loud ring and has been mounted on the back porch ever since. The bell itself has been relegated to ceremonial use or the occasional ringing as one walks by. It is just a sign of the times. The bell has been mostly replaced by cell phones, and sadly, even on the farm, electronics have a stronger pull than the great outdoors.

A few years ago, if we wanted to announce it was dinner time, instead of ringing the bell, we would just unplug the Wi-Fi and everyone at the farm would “magically” appear 🙂 But even today, unplugging the Wi-Fi isn’t as effective as it used to be, because everyone has access to unlimited cellular data! Alas, the dinner bell is more akin to a group text!


This weekend the Farm came alive. We have a been plugging away, but mostly at idle for the last month. This weekend it shifted to another level. And you know what? No one was late for dinner, because they had all worked up a ferocious appetite.


Bell, triangle, or your stomach calling. Whatever. But, eating at least one meal a day together is good for the soul.

Tristan Klesick

Farmer, Health Advocate

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Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.


Ashley Rodriguez

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

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Tree Swallows, Bats, and Barn Owls

I can be a little batty at times, but now that label will be justified! There are a few ways to combat pests on a farm, but keeping pests under control in an organic system can be challenging. I know that there are “sprays” that kill pests, even organically approved sprays, but I just don’t like to use that technology. I do have a sprayer, but I use it primarily for spraying nutrients, things like Kelp or Potassium, to help keep the plants at their optimum health.

However, we do have a few persistent pests, particularly in the orchard and especially, the dreaded Apple Maggot Fly that can render a whole crop unmarketable! The solutions to keeping that critter in check are mostly sprays. (Yuck!) I am not willing to go down that path. So, I have been spending a fair amount of time thinking about how to naturally (using nature) control those critters.

Strategy #1: I have decided upon a few nesting boxes for Tree or Violet Green Swallows, a bat house and a nesting box for Barn Owls. Swallows are insect eating machines and will be for daytime bug control. The Bats will be for nighttime bug control and the Barn Owls will help with the rodents that also call our organic farm home.

Strategy #2: I am going to use black plastic on the orchard floor to prevent the Apple Fly larva from emerging from their winter rest and becoming adult flies.

Strategy #3: I will use some sticky traps as well. Yes, all of this is a lot more work than using a spray, but, like I said earlier, “I don’t like to spray.” Check back in September to see if I was successful. 🙂

Increasing biological diversity is the best strategy. Using nature to keep nature in balance. Whoa! That’s revolutionary!

Tristan Klesick, Farmer, Health Advocate

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Sometimes it just comes down to a system—like my morning routine. I get up at 5 a.m. (unless the dog was barking at 2, then I get up 5:15 :)) and head downstairs. This is the trickiest part of the day in our old farmhouse. The steps are small and steep, and my preference is to use the steps as steps, not a slide!

After I navigate the steps and am more awake, I put on my headphones and start listening to the Bible. At this point, I am ready for action! I get the teapot, fill it up, and turn it on. Next, I get the small pan, put in a little milk, maple syrup, coconut and Cacao powder and turn it up. Then I grind a few tablespoons of coffee from Camano Island Coffee Roasters. (Joelle, my wife, really likes the Papua New Guinea medium roast.) Now the tea pot is starting to get hot and so is the milk. I grab a coffee filter and the ceramic pour over container and put in the ground coffee (this is an important step, trust me :)) Next, I pour the milk into the cup, place the pour over container over it and start pouring the hot water.

While I am waiting for the coffee to pour through the filter, I start making the morning smoothies for the Kiddos. Just about the time the coffee is ready, the smoothies are almost ready as well. When I deliver the coffee to my wife, the first set of kiddos start to awaken and I am well on my way through a ½ dozen chapters of the Bible. I really like serving my family.

Klesick Farms operates in a similar way. Just like I want to deliver the freshest coffee to my wife every morning, I want to bring you the freshest ingredients so you can feed your family incredible produce, and drink the freshest roasted coffee and freshest milk.

Our team has spent 20 years improving our system. The goal has always been the same: get the freshest organically grown ingredients to you ASAP. When it comes to produce, we are easily 2 to 7 days fresher than the traditional grocery store model. Our coffee is roasted to order and our milk is from a family farm in Lynden who is committed to getting us the freshest milk, so we can get you the freshest milk.

We can accomplish being ultra-fresh because our passion is to serve you. We do everything on purpose. Your box of good food arrives at your door because we have a system that ensures your produce, your coffee, your milk get to your door as fresh as possible.

And, just around the corner, you will be getting locally grown produce within a few days of harvest as myself and other local growers fire up our tractors and start growing food. Fresh, healthy, convenient. That is a recipe for busy families to eat healthy and be healthy.

Farmer and Health Advocate,

Tristan Klesick

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It will be a sad day when the Farm’s black lab passes from this life to the next. I remember the day we got him. I took two sons to visit Debbie and her new litter of black labs.  Our intention was to get another dog to be a companion to our Golden Retriever, Chapps. Chapps was getting on in years, and I thought that staggering the ages would be a good strategy.

I had Goldens all my life, which just happened to be City life. Well, when we moved to the Stillaguamish Valley and onto our current farm, it became obvious that a light brown dog quickly became a dark, almost black dog in the winter.  In fact, when he would go swimming in the sloughs around here, he would definitely be a black dog with “brown roots” :).

That fateful morning, Micah, Aaron and I headed over to get our new puppy. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. When we got there and saw all those puppies running around and playing, it became obvious that I was going to be BRINGING HOME TWO puppies. Okay, call me soft, but they were sure cute and those two boys of mine definitely wanted one each.

Ironically, I let the boys pick out their own dogs and wouldn’t you know that each picked out a black lab with a personality completely different than theirs! I know this often happens in a marriage, but I never made the connection between dogs and dog owners.

Another connection I didn’t make was that when those boys moved out, their dogs wouldn’t. And then I would become the proud owner of two black labs. Lightning is no longer with us, but Chungo still is. However, 13 is mighty old for a lab and his hips are just not what they use to be. He is super sweet, sleeps a ton and still wags that tail like only a lab can.

The writing is on the wall. His days are fewer than more, his strength is fading, and his hearing is mostly gone. But, as long he is able, he will always be welcome on my farm, by my side. And when he finally passes, there will be a big section of Marginalia written on the margins of my life. Thankfully, this isn’t the final chapter yet. When I get home tonight, Chungo will be waiting, wagging that tail like only a black lab can, standing right in my way to make sure he gets some loving on my way to the front door. That’s living the good life.