Category Archives: Sue

From songbirds in the trees to honey bees out by the hives, Marshall Mouse, our resident rodent on the farm, has many farm friends. All of the wildlife on our farm provide “ecosystem services”–benefits that we humans gain from the environment going about its business.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits we gain from farm animals is the good work that chickens do. When we think of chickens, our minds might immediately go to the eggs that they provide. But at the 21 Acres farm, our chickens do much more than that.

Goliath, or “Princess Warrior” as she came to be known after surviving an encounter with a coyote, is one of our hens. Did you know that ancient Egyptians and Romans both worshipped chickens as gods? While Goliath might not be a goddess, she is still queen of the farmyard. She scratches at the ground to turn the soil, eats bugs that are a nuisance to our crops, and gobbles up vegetable waste that humans no longer want to eat to return those nutrients to the soil.

Out at the chicken coop, you might also see Coyote, a striking black-and-white speckled lady, Stu, one of our roosters who protects the flock from predators, and Duke Duck, a misplaced mallard. Duke Duck is a fancy gentleman who was hatched with the chickens. If you ask him what manner of bird he is, he’d definitely say “cluck cluck” rather than “quack quack!”

Illustration of two chickens followed by a duck and the words "Cluck, Cluck, Quack."


Did you know that chickens are one of the oldest domesticated breeds? Humans have kept chickens for about 3,000 years, making them one of our oldest companions. Stop by the 21 Acres farm to say hello to our feathery friends!

Want to learn more about the wild farm life and get up-close-and-personal with our chickens, amphibians, bugs, and more? Sign up for Farm Life Safari starting on August 5.

By Amanda Bullat, MS, RDN, CN

Our newest Farm Market employee, Charlie Wainger, wrote this message last week.  If you haven’t had a chance to meet him, hopefully you will as he’ll fill in periodically when staff take vacations or we have a particularly busy day planned.

“I started working in the 21 Acres Market in May and I can’t believe it is already the end of June and the multi-colored tomatoes are on the table. Now the stone fruit and cherries spill onto the scale. Soon I’ll be tending to my own tomatoes at Hidden Valley Camp, a 60-acres overnight camp nestled in Granite Falls. The corn will be thigh high in July while the nasturtium and squashes flower. The herb spiral already dances with bees and the garter snakes sneak through the strawberries.

It will mark my 17th summer at Hidden Valley Camp right as the camp turns 70. I started in the 90’s as a camper and now I run the quarter-acre farm program, which allows campers from 7-17 to plant, harvest, and cook fresh produce. We collect rainwater, compost, tend to the chickens, and cook food in our new cob oven. Check us out at” — Charlie

At 21 Acres we’re fortunate to have staff who really appreciate giving children experiences on the farm like the one Charlie describes.  Our 21 Acres farm camps are run by the amazing and extremely talented Andrew Ely. They are full for the summer with the exception of the last session, August 1-5, Pizza Organica! If it interests you for your child ages 7-12 be sure to register right away!

Spring into Spring with fresh meal inspirations from the Culinary Program at 21 Acres. All of our culinary classes highlight the use of local, seasonal and sustainably-grown ingredients. Our goal is to inspire and empower guests to consider using more whole foods as the foundation of their diets in order to promote personal and environmental well-being.

— Amanda

21 Acres Culinary Class

Here’s the current schedule:


Cultural Classics: Chutney, The Ultimate Flavor Enhancer | Thursday, April 14, 6:30-8:30pm

Chutney is a thick sauce of Indian origin that often contains fruits, vinegar, sugar, and spices. This flavorful condiment has been used throughout history and across many cultures to enhance mealtime flavors. Inspire your senses in this hands-on class.


Local Foods for Local Adventures and Weekday Snacks | Friday, April 15, 6:30-8:30 pm

Join Chef Kristen Fuerstein in this hands-on exploration of locally delicious, easy-to-prepare portable snacks. Menu items to include: Not Your Basic PB&J Granola Bars, Savory Veggie Bites, and other pack-able snacks.


One Food Three Ways, Sea Vegetables | Saturday, April 30, 1-3:00 pm

So you think veggies only come from your garden or the farm? Welcome to the new world of seaweed! These sustainable plants might be your new go-to green. In this hands-on class you’ll have the opportunity to use various seaweeds in three delicious dishes: salad, a main course of salmon infused with sea veggie butter, and a decadent dessert.


Spring Salads & Salad Dressings | Friday, May 6, 6:30-8:30pm

Are you ready to lighten up for Spring and Summer? As the weather gets warmer, our bodies naturally begin to yearn for lighter and fresher foods. Join culinary educator Rebecca Sorenson in this hands-on kitchen experience to learn how to build tasty and satisfying salads.


Eat Your Weeds: An Introduction to Spring Foraging | Saturday, May 7, 1-3pm

Don your farm boots and possibly a rain jacket to join culinary educator and wild plant expert Rebecca Sorenson in exploring the fields of 21 Acres. Rebecca will guide you in search of wild, delicious, and nutrient dense edibles. After foraging, we will assemble our bounty in the kitchen and transform it into a flavorsome wild green pesto served with fresh farm bread, a tasty wild salad, and a mouth-watering beverage of nettle infusion.


What’s On Your Plate| Tuesday-Friday, May 10-13, 6:30-8:30pm & Saturday, May 14 12-2pm

Note: This course has been approved for 10 CPE credits for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Calling all nutrition professionals, educators, and anyone else with an interest in the inspiring story of local food history. Join Ruth Fruland, Ph.D, and professionals from the 21 Acres staff as we explore the essence of food culture in the Pacific Northwest within the context of environmental sustainability over the course of four evenings; we will examine and celebrate four iconic Pacific Northwest foods: including salmon, potatoes, apples, and wheat.


Cultivating Cooks 201 | 5 consecutive Wednesdays, May 18-June 15, 6:30-8:30pm

Calling all aspiring chefs! Our Cultivating Cooks Youth Culinary Series is under way for the 2016 season. We’re excited to introduce Chef Andrea Roelen as the fearless leader of this inspiring program best suited for young adults ages 12-17.


Spring into spring with fresh vegetarian flavors | Friday, June 3, 6:30-8:30pm

Looking to expand beyond meatless Mondays? Are you looking for new veg-menu inspirations? Join Chef Kristen, our resident vegetarian chef, in this hands on culinary experience. We will use locally sourced ingredients to create a plant-based menu guaranteed to delight your taste buds as well as promote a steady flow of energy throughout your day.



Bring the entire family to 21 Acres this coming weekend for a free open house, Saturday April 2, noon to 1:30 pm. Spread the word to anyone you know who is interested in getting more kids in the kitchen and on a farm. There will be lots to do, including being able to:

  • Create and taste kid-friendly recipes with Chef Asako and Chef Laura
  • Visit the “farm-igami” station where kids can create origami pots, then add soil to plant a seed to take home
  • Create a pollinator-friendly flower ball to plant at home to attract bees and butterflies throughout the summer
  • Explore 21 Acres Farm—take a guided walk about the farm and stop
    to say hello to our resident goats, Lucky and Skippy!
  • In honor of International Children’s Book Day, celebrate food literacy as we
    launch locally-authored Readers to Eaters book titles for sale in the Market.
  • Learn more about 21 Acres’ children’s programming including: Farm Camp, School Field Trips, Storybook Farms, Cultivating Cooks culinary classes and more!
    Farm Camp crafting fun

Take the time to talk to our staff who will be on hand during the open house and learn about our summer farm camp program:

NEW for Teens: Farmer-in-Training June 27 – July 1; Ages: 13 to 18 years

Food from the Fields July 11 – July 15; Ages: 7 years to 12 years

Minds Crafting Your Garden July 18 – July 22; Ages: 7 to 12 years

Pizza Organica: Farm Fresh Pizza Session 1: July 25 – July 29, Session 2: Aug 1 – Aug 5; Ages: 7 to 12 years

Recently, the New York Times published an Op-Ed piece, A Hidden Cost of Giving Kids Their Vegetables, discussing the blame game that is often played on people with limited resources for not feeding their children healthy food. When it comes down to it, children are picky eaters, regardless of family income. This fact, weighs a heavier burden on low-income parents. When money is tight, rather than waste food that children will not eat, parents tend to provide their children with food they know they will eat. This food is oftentimes nutrient deficient, bland and sweet, a trade off that I truly understand.Meghan's kids

I am a mother of 2 small children. I work, my husband works, we are busy and tired. Occasionally, a day or two before payday, we are out of pretty much everything, left with only pantry staples like rice or pasta and beans and we have to be really creative about “what’s for dinner.” I was raised by a single mother, we were food insecure, especially when the food stamps ran out near the end of the month. I understand some of the struggle and hardships that are part of “going without.” (more…)

A great cheat sheet to help you when making purchases. Make Every Dollar Count!How-to-read-labels-chart

Click on this link to download a copy to carry with you: How-to-read-labels-chart

iphone-410324_1280It’s become a lot easier if you’re tech savvy to be more ‘green!’

We seem to be doing everything on our phones and devices these days through mobile apps; reading the paper, checking weather, watching movies, monitoring investments. Why not give a mobile app a try when making ‘in the moment’ purchases and you want every dollar to count?

As we move toward a greener, healthier lifestyle, many of us make decisions based on our values. It seems overwhelming at times, when you’re ‘in the moment,’ perhaps at the grocery store or pharmacy, to take the time to research an ingredient or make the best possible choice for a purchase. We don’t always have the information right at hand to help us decide. Give these mobile apps a try whether you’re looking for food additives, researching a restaurant, or digging into a company’s best practices. Make every dollar count, and find the products that are in line with your values.

Here are some mobile apps to help you get started:

Think Dirty: This app allows users to scan a personal care product’s barcode and get not only a list of the ingredients, but also see how they stack up in terms of their potential toxicity to the human body. The app gives products a score on the “Dirty Meter,” based on the inclusion of certain carcinogens or allergens, and offers alternative options for cleaner products. Includes over 1600 brands, and 60,000 products, and is available for iOS or on the web.

GoodGuide: The GoodGuide app instantly reveals whether products are safe, healthy, green and socially responsible while you shop. The app’s barcode scanning feature lets you quickly access GoodGuide’s science-based health, environment and social ratings for over 170,000 products. (more…)

Sneezing, aching, nose-running, snot-forming, cough coming on – yep that was my life over the latter part of last week and through the weekend. I’m sure many of you can relate. Tis’ the cold and flu season. There are many nourishing whole foods, however, that we can turn our focus toward this time of year. In fact, in case you missed it, the culinary education team at 21 Acres just provided a cooking class centered around this very topic. Rebecca Sorenson, a naturopathic doctoral student at Bastyr University, provided extremely useful information on how and why whole foods can provide us with germ fighting defenses. I was impressed with the knowledge and “work-ability” of the suggestions Rebecca presented and I thought it would be worth everyone’s while if I share similar information here. I can also attest to the effectiveness of the ingredients listed below and the recipes that follow. After 2 large bowls of the ginger chicken soup and a good dose of onion syrup that Rebecca graciously shared, my cold was well on its way to being history. (more…)

Perhaps the idea of terroir (the combination of soil, sunlight and climate that gives produce, greens, grapes, and such, their distinctive flavor profile and character) has never been a significant factor when contemplating your next culinary experience.  This new dinner series at 21 Acres may change that.

Just as terroir plays an important role in the distinctive character of a good wine, so too will it excite your taste buds with the complexity, vitality, taste and textures of farm-fresh chemically-free foods grown on farms here in the Puget Sound. You’ll explore how the same fresh ingredient can have very different flavors depending upon where the farm is located that the food was produced.

As your palette is reawakened to the excitement of simply tasting clean food, it begins to shed its dependency on salt, sugars, and foods that are highly processed and refined.

Please join us at 21 Acres, Feb 13, for a dinner event titled Chef on the Farm. Guest Chef, Matt Cyr will prepare six-courses of terroir-inspired, seasonally available savories paired with four exceptional Salmon-Safe Washington wines.   Experience terroir.  (Read on for more about the event below….)

— Jane, 21 Acres Sustainable Events Specialist


Man it was dark today, mostly due to the low clouds and fog I believe. I guess winter has officially started. As the dark days slowly welcome back the light, there are a handful of mood-boosting foods to include with your meals or snacks – especially if you’re prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s no secret that some foods just plain ‘ole make us feel better. Foods such as chocolate, creamy casseroles, fresh baked bread, warm saucy pasta, or mashed potatoes all have key nutrients that give our mood a boost. Let’s look at some specific examples.

Chocolate is rich in magnesium, which according to recent research out of Norway, a country cloaked in darkness six months out of the year, has been associated with lower incidences of depression. Keep in mind that the higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the greater amount of magnesium and the lower amount of sugar. (For many of my clients sugar increases feelings of depression and anxiety.) A good rule of thumb is to aim for at least 70-80% cocoa content in your one or two ounce chocolate treat. While 21 Acres recognizes that chocolate in not locally produced, the kitchen and culinary education team do on occasion work with local chocolate companies whose values are in line with 21 Acres in terms of economic and environmental sustainability. Our culinary classes and kitchen source chocolate from Seattle based Theo Chocolates as needed. (more…)

“I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right.” Michael Jackson, Man in the Mirror

With New Years just around the corner, I often reflect back on what I’ve learned, where I’ve been, and who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the last year. I then start to think about where I’d like to go, what I’d like to learn, and who I’d like to meet in the coming New Year. This concept of making a change, setting a resolution, making an intention is familiar to many of you I’m sure. As a nutritionist dietitian I often receive comments from clients or acquaintances in regards to what they’re going to give up (food-wise) or how much more time they’re going to spend at the gym. These common “New Year’s Resolutions” are of-course well intended, but what if the resolution was a little less self-punishing and a little more self-promoting or better yet more beneficial for the larger community? (more…)

Membership holiday cardWe wish you a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season. Enjoy some of these favorite memories and traditions shared by the staff of 21 Acres.

Veleda – Event Staff and [email protected]
My younger  sisters and I used to sneak out of bed and peek to watch my mother sewing dolls for us on her treadle sewing machine.  We saw where she hid the projects and would check the progress daily, until she removed the completed dolls to a better hiding spot until Christmas.   We  were always very “surprised” to find the now -dressed dolls under our tree.   I still have one of those dolls.

In order to allow more time for gift exchanging and enjoying on Christmas morning,, I discovered that my kids  were delighted to each have a box of their favorite breakfast cereal wrapped and under the tree among other gifts, to be eaten as each was ready.  This became a tradition which each of them now carries out with their own families.

Deb – [email protected]
Throughout my childhood, every Christmas Eve, we went to my Grandparent’s home for dinner.  On the way there, we always looked for a house bordering the freeway with a large blue star high above their roof (a bit of a competition to be the first to announce the sighting!).  Returning to my hometown (the Olympia area) as an adult with my own children, “progress” had replaced the home with a strip mall, but much to my delight, the strip mall continued to put up the star and my children learned to look for it as we traveled between their grandparent’s homes for Christmas Eve and then back to our home in Woodinville.  To this day, the star is there and for me, it represents the spirit and magic of Christmas –God’s love, peace, safety, family, tradition and giving.  Hoping to share the star with my grandchildren in the coming years.

Liesl – Market [email protected]
Christmas as a child was always spent at grandma’s house.  She had a beautiful stone fireplace where the stockings were hung and always picked a tree that reached the ceiling; I thought they were bigger than life.  When Christmas morning came, my sister and I were always up early, very early.  There was a strict policy to not wake Mom and Grandma until 7:30.  Until that time we could look in our stockings, but never unwrap the presents under the tree.  My sister and I would slowly pull each item out of our stockings, always ending with an orange in the toe.  Then just before 7:30, we would repack the stockings so we could open them all over again with the rest of the family.  The suspense and untethered joy of Christmas morning is a rare  ]gift; be blessed this holiday season!

bv.woodenshoes2015Brenda –Public Relations & Communications @21 Acres
Celebrating Sinterklaas – For those of you who know me well, you may know this is a Dutch tradition for the Vanderloop/Jacobson family. The wooden shoes go outside the front door the eve of Dec. 5, in celebration of St. Nick’s birthday, and they are magically filled in the morning with treats and a gift. A few things have changed over time, I used to get chocolate “fairy food” left in the milk chute when I was little at home in Wisconsin;  As the kids got older, treats changed from chocolate to craft beer, my son 🙂 and chocolate to a vintage classic book, my daughter :). Some years, St. Nick actually plans ahead, as he has to use pony express to deliver to the ‘kids’ no longer at home. And yes, there are a baby pair of wooden shoes awaiting a new grandchild next year!

Amanda – Local Foods & Nutrition Education Coordinator @21Acres
During the holidays of 1999-2000 I was living in Salzburg, Austria. When it comes to Christmas, you really can’t hold a candle to how well the Europeans celebrate the season. From shopping for hand made gifts at traditional outdoor holiday markets, to sipping Gluhwein while listening to traditional Christmas carols (Silent Night was written in Arnsdorf, Austria in 1818), Europe really is a magical place this time of year – especially in the small towns like Gimmelwald, Switzerland.

After we finished fall semester finals, a handful of classmates and I boarded a train heading for the Swiss Alps. We first arrived in Interlaken, Switzerland. Then boarded a smaller train to ride further into the mountains. Upon arrival, we walked a short distance to a cable car tram that took us literally up the mountains to the very small village of Gimmelwald, population 100. We spent two nights in the appropriately name Mountain Hostel run by an American couple. The woman was from Eugene, Oregon – she and I bonded over our Oregonian-ness.

The hostel had a kitchen for us to use, but having arrived with just our backpacks and only a few snacks, we were in need of groceries. The next village up the “road” was home to the only grocery store at that elevation. In fact as I remember the store wasn’t much larger than our market at 21 Acres. We made our purchases and soon discovered that walking back in the deep snow was going to be challenging. The shopkeeper suggested we rent sleds from a nearby shop. So, down we went on traditional wooden sleds – the ones with the steering on the front that you maneuvered with your feet. A couple of us doubled up so the person in the back could manage the groceries. Amazingly we and our groceries all arrived in one piece!  As the evening continued the previously overcast and periodically snowing sky opened up. The view from the hill just next to the hostel looked right at Mount Eiger and Jungenfrau two of the tallest peaks in the Alps. Words can not describe the holiday “perfectness” of that scene, of the whole day really.

If you ever get the chance to be in Europe during the holiday season, do yourself a favor, drop everything, tell your family members here in the US you’ll send them a postcard or call, and just go! Froliche Weihnachten (Merry Christmas, Austrian German) my friends!

Scott – Permaculture [email protected]
My mother’s growing Catholic enthusiasm has made the end of December a very significant time for our family growing up.  Each year our family buys a Christmas tree in early December that gets covered in heirloom decorations our family has been accumulating since long before I was born.  Last year I made hoshigaki ornaments, gifted them to loved ones, and added them to our tree in my futile attempt to give it life. On Christmas Eve, we usually go to a late night mass and then drive around at midnight to admire lights and decorations in residential areas.  We then return home, go to sleep, and wake up to soft sounds of Christmas carols, gift exchanges, and homemade meals.  My most memorable experience during Christmas was nothing like the tradition I had grown up with when in 2012, I pedaled to Mexico with a caravan of circus vagabonds far away from the family and friends I grew up with.  As the end of the 5,126 year long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar approached, I participated in my first Vision Quest, fasting without water for 100 hours in the dry Mexican jungles surrounding the ancient temples of Palenque.  A consistently calm, warm, and sunny climate throughout that December made a suddenly severe transformation into torrential rains, winds, and flooding on the day of solstice.  My tent and home was swept away by a river while I stared in amazement at thousands of indigenous Mayans drenched and rejoicing around a skyscraping bonfire in the pouring down rain all night long.  Stepping outside my traditions helped me better understand others around me with more compassion and that events and disparate yet convergent gatherings, regardless of whether they are called Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, or Solsticio can have a profoundly significant impact beyond my imagination.

Seriously, who can believe it’s the holidays yet again? Perhaps it’s the frantic traffic, the very focused shoppers who nearly run into you as they check their lists twice, or maybe it’s the shops, streets, and homes a glow with bright colored lights that remind us ’tis the season! Another frequent reminder is the “holiday foods” that appear at family gatherings, office break rooms, and seasonal parties galore. ‘Tis the season for indulgence! But what if we took a break from all the craziness that the holiday season often presents, especially in regards to food? What if we created a new holiday tradition that allowed for more mindfulness around food and our eating environments?

This time of year is perfect for thinking more about how we source our ingredients for those special holiday meals. When we choose high quality, locally produced, pesticide-free ingredients we not only heighten the flavor and nutritional content of our favorite family recipes, we also end up supporting our local economy and reducing the carbon footprint (aka travel miles, petroleum-free growing practices) of our meals. Speaking of flavors, let’s take a closer look at some flavor profiles, which are more likely to be enhanced by choosing higher quality ingredients. (more…)

Submitted by Amanda Bullat, MSN, RD, CD, 21 Acres
“…and a partridge in a pear tree.” Pear season is in full swing!  Did you know that the Pacific Northwest produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s pears? While peak season is typically Fall and Winter, a few varieties are available much longer throughout the year.

Nutritionally speaking, pears are similar to apples in that they come in at just about 100 calories each for an average size, offer about 5.5 grams of fiber, contain 10 percent of the daily vitamin C and 5 percent of the daily value for potassium. The potassium helps to keep our blood pressure in balance and the high soluble fiber content can contribute to healthy blood cholesterol levels. In one recent study, researchers found that for every 25 grams of white-fleshed produce eaten, participants were 9 percent less likely to suffer from stroke.

As a member of the rose family, pears make great additions to sweet as well as savory dishes. Some favorite ways to enjoy these seasonal delights include poached, sautéed, baked, roasted, grilled, and  raw. Pears’ high pectin content also make them perfect for jams and spreads. Some of the varieties you may find include Anjou, Bartlett, Asian, Bosc, Comice, and Seckel. Anjou is typically the easiest variety to come by. They come in green and red varieties each with their own subtle flavor profiles. Anjous are great for munching raw, in a chutney, or as a pie. Bartletts are also widely available and offer a classic pear flavor. They work well for canning and pureeing. Bosc pears are usually more firm in texture, which makes them best for baking or poaching. The Comice, my personal favorite, are sweet and juicy – tasty for eating raw. The tiny seckel pears are the perfect size for a petite snack or light dessert.

Although many of the varieties are picked ready to eat within a day or two; if your delicious selection needs a little softening try leaving the pears on the counter at room temperature. Pears are natural ethylene producers, meaning they ripen well on their own after being picked. Once you’re content with their softness, they can be transferred to the fridge to maintain freshness.

Pears are a very versatile fruit as they pair well with a variety of flavors including, warm spices like allspice, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and pecans are also great partners as well as dark chocolate – my personal favorite! For the local cheese fans among you, our resident cheese specialist Marie Caldron recommends the following local cheese pairings for any of the above pears:  Cascadia Creamery’s Cloud Cap and Glacier Blue, Beecher’s Clothbound Flagship, and Mt Townsend’s Red Alder.  At 21 Acres, our favorites are cheese from Cherry Valley Dairy, Mt. Townsend Creamery and Sammish Bay Cheese.

Amanda Bullat MS RDN CD is a registered dietitian nutritionist with master’s degree from Bastyr University and a background in natural and sustainable food systems. Amanda has taught classes for Whole Foods Market, Keene State College in New Hampshire, Seattle Mountaineers, and various other community organizations.  When she is not teaching or coordinating our culinary education program, Amanda supports and inspires clients through her private nutritional counseling practice.

As I pedal my bike down the Sammamish Trail toward work, it’s all I can do to avoid squashing squirrels as they dart back and forth across the trail, scurrying to gather nuts and seeds to store for winter nibbling. Perhaps we should take advice from these furry friends: Scientific evidence continues to support the many health benefits of nuts and seeds as a part of a well-rounded diet.

An important plant-based protein source, nuts and seeds also contain valuable amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are especially rich in plant sterols and healthy fats – particularly mono- and polyunsaturated varieties. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts) as a part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. The combination of fiber, protein, and fat (roughly 4 grams of saturated fat for a 1.5 ounce serving) provided satiety to meals and snacks. This can be especially helpful during the holiday season when we’re often busy and on the go. While nuts are healthy, they are also calorically dense. Nuts range from 160-200 calories per ounce. A great option in order to not over spend your daily caloric bank account on a small snack is to substitute nuts and seeds for other foods in your diet, especially for foods higher in saturated fat. While nuts and seeds can easily be lumped into one category, each variety has its own unique nutrition benefits and delicious-ness. (more…)

Sourcing local ingredients is standard procedure in the 21 Acres Kitchen, and it’s no exception during the holidays and the cold, winter months. 21 Acres uses only locally grown, seasonal, organic, sustainable foods for a uniquely Northwest experience. Register today for these hands-on, very affordable holiday cooking classes. (There’s one for teens too!) And don’t forget, a Gift Certificate for cooking classes is a great holiday gift!

School calendar of classes and follow the links to register or for more information.

Thursday, December. 3, Taste of Place: Throw Another Yule Log on the Fire; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
“Taste of Place” classes continue with our mission to use locally sourced ingredients to create all of our delicious snacks and meals in the 21 Acres kitchen. When we use local ingredients we get a sense of the taste for a place, literally, due to the effects of soil content, water, weather, and really the entire ecosystem in which our foods are grown. Bûche de Noël or Yule Log, originated as a traditional Christmas dessert back in 12th century Europe. In this hands-on class Chef Anne will guide you in learning how to make a simple yet delicious Yule Log using Pacific Northwest ingredients.

Friday, December 4, Locally Delicious Handmade Holiday Gifts; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Celebrate the seasons tradition of gifting by creating delicious, hand-crafted gifts from the heart with seasonal ingredients. Joanna Wirkus, will show you how to make simple – yet elegant – gifts including sweet treats, spiced nuts, infused butter, oil, and vinegar that are sure to impress everyone on your list, especially the foodie.

Saturday, December 5, Festive Holiday Baking with a Pacific Northwest Flare; 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Come celebrate with us! Join Megan and Joanna in this hands-on culinary baking experience. They will teach you the art of using whole food ingredients, sourced right here in the Pacific Northwest, to create classic, sweet flavors of the season. Topics include recipe modifications for baking you holiday favorite treats, learning to work with unrefined sweeteners, and incorporating whole grain flours. Learn kitchen tricks to work-smarter-not-harder this holiday season! Complete the afternoon by sharing the sweetness of your efforts, including a homemade pumpkin spice latte, in the company of new friends.

Thursday, December 10, Taste of Place: Italian-Inspired Holiday Meal; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
The “Taste of Place” series of classes continue with our mission to source local, seasonal ingredients to create all of our delicious snacks and meals in the 21 Acres Kitchen. When we use local ingredients we get a sense of the taste for a place, literally, due to the effects of soil content, water, weather, and really the entire ecosystem in which our foods are grown. Join Chef Paola in this hands on experience as she teaches you the time honored technique of making gnocchi using the finest potatoes from the Pacific Northwest. The evening’s menu will round out with a seasonal salad and rustic Italian dessert tart.

Saturday, December 12, Two Chefs are Better Than One; 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
The holidays are a great time to create food memories with the young chefs in your household. At 21 Acres we strive to educate and inspire culinary interest in people of all ages. This class is designed to be shared between a parent/care-giver and their aspiring chef, ages 12-16. Join Chef Andrea and her daughter as they prepare a simple yet elegant seasonal meal complete with soup, salad, and dessert.

School calendar of classes and follow the links to register or for more information.

21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is located at 13701 NE 171st St., Woodinville, WA. You can also register by calling (425) 481-1500 or e-mail [email protected]  Classes fill quickly. Register now and don’t forget to ask for Member and Student discounts.

21 Acres is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people learn how to grow food, eat well, and live sustainably. All proceeds benefit educational programming at 21 Acres and initiatives related to accelerating social change toward more sustainable ways of growing, eating and living that protect the environment while supporting a better quality of life.

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. Please enjoy some of the favorite memories from our staff.

Thanksgiving Memory from Amber /Admin Asst. @21 Acres
My favorite Thanksgiving memory would be sitting around the piano with my parents, grandparents and uncle’s family to sing carols with each person picking a different choral part to sing.

Thanksgiving Memory from Liesl / Market Manager @21Acres
My Dad still uses the turkey stuffing recipe his Mom developed over 75 years ago.  Not only that, he uses the same roasting pan!  (Not 75 years old, but at least 25 as it is the only one I remember).  It is an annual tradition for my sisters and I to wake up early and help Dad slice and saute vegetables, boil stock, mix up the stuffing and doctor it just right with seasonings.  Once the turkey goes in the oven around 8:30 in the morning, we all sit down to watch the parade…and take a collective nap in the living room.  Following his basting schedule, the bird, and the stuffing, never fail to impress.  Want to know the secret ingredient?  You have to marry into my family to find out! Happy Thanksgiving and may your day be just as blessed as mine, even if you do not have a 5 am wake up call.

Thanksgiving Memory from Karen /Event Staff @21Acres
Riding in the “way back” of the station wagon with my older brother.  We had a 10 hour drive to our grandmother’s. This was before iPods, video screens,etc., so to pass the time we sang the same songs over and over, probably driving our parents craZy.

Thanksgiving Memory from Jane / Sustainable Events Coordinator @21Acres
Growing up ripe olives constituted haute cuisine and Thanksgiving was the only time they were served!  My method–an olive on each finger tip, eat the thumb first, pinky last.

Thanksgiving Memory from Scott / Permaculturist @21Acres
“As a youth, I thought Thanksgiving to be an ordinary, traditional, and modern American holiday excuse off from school and work.  I later found it to be a gathering of closely related family members that sit down around a large table together, give hackneyed blessings and expressions of gratitude for bountiful harvests and harmonious relationships.  Turkey, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, fruit gelatin, baked yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and whipped cream adorned a candle lit table each year while we listened to soothing music and ate a warm home-cooked dinner together.  This went on as far back as I can remember until in 2009, I moved to Costa Rica where Thanksgiving is widely unknown.  My habit of repetition would have to be broken.  Imposing my foreign traditions upon the local Costa Ricans around me was out of consideration, and instead, I just looked within and gave thanks in my own internal celebration of Thanksgiving.  I gave thanks to my family back home and the new people around me.  I gave thanks to the gifts we have been given and the gifts we give to others.  I thanked the sun and the air that gave me life until something very significant happened to me: a nagging desire for the loved ones I grew up with and hunger pangs for a Thanksgiving meal disappeared.  Water fasting on Thanksgiving helped me find tranquility and clarity of mind without digestive distractions, and understood more of what Costa Rican’s call “Pura Vida.”  I did not eat a single bite of food nor consume a single calorie for a 24 hour period of time during Thanksgiving in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  When I returned back to the US and the family I grew up with, I returned to their traditions, but with a genuinely sincere appreciation for so many gifts I never knew had been taken for granted.”

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin & HR @ 21 Acres
I was born in the south where pecan pie rules the day.  We moved to Washington when I was three, but the pie, with my mom being the Pecan Pie Queen, came with us.  When I moved to New Jersey after college, my mom would make small pies, pack them up in a coffee can and mail them to me, so the tradition was unbroken.  My mom is gone, but my sister and I have carried on with Pecan Pie making for the family.

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin and [email protected] Acres
I grew up with the traditional sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows for Thanksgiving dinner.  As an adult, I am not a fan, but my heart is filled with love for tradition and what gets carried on to the next generation.   My sister still always makes that horribly sweet marshmallow treat and my daughter, now grown and living in Australia, has insinuated this American phenomenon on the unsuspecting Aussies.    However, they don’t seem to have plain marshmallows Down Under and I have had to send them to her, so the last time she was home, we had a girl’s night in the kitchen learned how to make marshmallows, so  she can continue to share her memories and traditions with her new friends and family.

Thanksgiving Memory from Brenda / PR and Communications @21Acres
When anyone mentions Thanksgiving at our house we all remember the biggest and best family gathering we had in years was when Grandma Dot came to visit. The Jacobson clan from Washington and Oregon all landed at our house for dinner. (fyi G Dot is now 94!) Not in this picture was the dessert table. 🙂 Everyone brought something (even the teenagers) and it took more than one table to hold the bounty of sweet tradition.

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin and HR @21Acres
The year that will go down in the memory of our large and very extended family, is when my mom, queen of pie, had been ahead of the game and made her Thanksgiving Peach Pie quite early and popped it in the freezer.  With a glad heart since her day was made easier, she laid the pie out on the dessert table.  Cousin Tobin who always looked forward to that pie and was completely delighted to have a Peach Pie option, was first to the dessert table, scooped up a piece and downed a large bite.  Imagine his disappointment and the Queen of Pie’s chagrin to discover that her memory of her early preparation did not actually include baking the pie!

IMG_3293 IMG_3295Its time to ditch that tired green bean casserole! I wanted to create a side dish for Thanksgiving that uses local, seasonal ingredients. The oven and stove top are in high demand, a cold Shaved Brussels Sprouts salad that can be assembled in advance, dressed just before service, fits the bill perfectly.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts 

24 clean, trimmed and drip drying Brussels Sprouts

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, I used Golden Glen Creamery

1/4 cup Honey Infused Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup safflower oil

1/2 -1 tsp 21 Acres Honey Dijon Mustard

salt and pepper

optional: Handful dried cranberries

IMG_3294The idea is to shave the Brussels thinly; you can use a mandolin or #2 blade on the food processor. In a large bowl, add shaved sprouts, parmesan, walnuts, cranberries (if using), and a pinch of salt.  Combine honey vinegar, oil, Dijon (to taste) salt and pepper in a jar.  Shake until fully combined.  Pour dressing over Brussels just before serving.  Toss together and share.

I hope you enjoy this worthy side.  Happy Thanksgiving!

See you in the Market, — Meghan

The holidays are approaching quickly. Are you looking to make a difference in your gift giving this year? There are lots of choices when it comes to holiday giving. Will you choose practical or pretty? Something fun or something fancy? No matter your giving preferences, we encourage you to research the purchases you make. Are there ‘greener’ options? Have you sourced the best products, the best materials? Are you supporting companies with ethical business practices? 21 Acres has a tool that will help you make an informed decision, with every dollar you spend, every purchase you make.*

For many months, 21 Acres has been compiling a directory of ‘Green Resources.’ We continuously conduct research, looking for new products and services that are energy efficient, free of harmful chemicals, are made in the USA, and companies that pride themselves in embracing these criteria. We’ve added a new section to the directory for the holiday, thinking ahead to all those purchases you might be considering for your family and friends. Below are just a few examples. Make it a “Green” Friday this holiday and every day whenever you make a purchase!

At the moment, an abbreviated version of the “Green Products and Services” directory lives here on the 21 Acres Blog, and gets updated regularly. Keep in mind some businesses cross categories with a broad variety of products. And, remember to always read the labels and fine print! For the complete Excel file of the Directory (with e-mails, web links, etc.), send an e-mail to [email protected] and we’ll send you the current version. The new 21 Acres website, when it launches in 2016, will make the Directory easily accessible for the public to review and add their own products and resources to share. In the interim, if you have ‘green’ items or services to share, we’d love to hear from you. Post your comment or information below and we’ll get it added to the directory.

Happy holidays, and happy “green” shopping, from all of us at 21 Acres.

* Read “Consumers Define Economic Future – Every Dollar Counts” written by HumanLinks Foundation President and 21 Acres founder, Gretchen Garth. 

Seven Acre Toys
Smiling Tree
Eco-Friendly Mama USA
Snapdoodle Toys (stores located in Redmond and Kenmore)
Third Place Books (stores located in Ravenna and Lake Forest Park)

Just added: Pure Play Kids (organic stuffed animals)

Rare Earth Naturals
Liberty Bottles
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)

Cozy Pure
Natural Clothing Company (store located in Snohomish)
Smart Mommy Healthy Baby

CLOTHING-Women, Men, Baby, Kids, Outdoor, Socks, Shoes
Natural Clothing Company (store located in Snohomish)
Blue Canoe
Echo Verde
Natural World Eco

Theo’s Chocolate (store located in Seattle)
Choice Organic Teas
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)

21 Acres  (store located in Woodinville; gift certificates available for Culinary Classes and the Farm Market)

Common Good Market
NUBE Green (store located in Seattle)

Red Oxx Manufacturing

Red Oxx Manufacturing

Cozy Pure

Common Good Market

Real Goods

Olivia Garden
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)
Rare Earth Naturals
Environmental Working Group
Smart Mommy Healthy Baby

Other great websites and resources to delve further:

Other organizations doing good work:
The Nature Conservancy
Environmental Working Group


IMG_0081It’s been a mild fall so far after the record-breaking hot and dry summer.  This mild weather may persist well into November and beyond according to the Climate Prediction Center (CPC).  The forecast is for warmer weather and drier conditions are expected for the rest of 2015 and well into 2016. El Nino is developing strong at a record level and becoming “super” El Nino.  We usually see an early frost here in the valley by now, but we have not seen any sign of frost at all so far, which is another indication of this year’s “mild” fall.  However, the season has definitely shifted as daylight gets shorter.
Fall/October is also the time when some seasonal growers and farmers markets come to a close. But, some farmers and winter markets continue to offer locally grown produce.  Here at 21 Acres, we stretch our farm season into November.   In the fields, we still have fall/winter greens and root crops sustaining healthy and looking good….lettuce, carrots, beets, leeks, fall greens (kale, chard, spinach, mustard, mizuna, komatsuna, yukina). Some of the fall greens get even sweeter after frost and root crops store well for winter.   The good news is the ground hasn’t gotten too boggy yet, thanks to the mild and not so soggy weather.

We just finished our season’s last planting this week….garlic.  The five varieties (soft/hard neck) panted are ChesnokIMG_0095 Red, Spanish Roja, Silver White, Inchelium and Elephant.  This year’s yield/quality of our garlic was excellent, so finger crossed for the garlic harvest in 2016.  If you are a garlic lover, you can still grow your own garlic by planting now so that you’ll be able to harvest your own garlic next year.  Winter cover crop (Merced rye) has been planted in most of the fields except those beds of the ongoing fall crops. The mild temperature with moderate precipitation is also helping cover crop to grow much better.  We normally experience a low germination rate of cover crop particularly in Field 3 (most boggy site on the farm during fall/winter/spring) due to rain and cold temperature, but this time is different. Cover crop is growing like a lush green wild fire in this mild weather.
Sweet potato…..our first trial of growing sweet potatoes was a success…..well, sort of.  Most of them produced a small size, but they are amazingly sweet and flavorful.  As a rule of thumb for a good yield of sweet potatoes, the soil temperature needs to be kept above 70 to 80 degrees day and night.  Black plastic mulch is often used to keep the soil warm at night, but our sweet potatoes were grown without using black plastic mulch. Why? It is our principle that we consciously farm with carbon footprint factors in mind: plastic = petroleum.  Hence, we don’t utilize plastic mulch for crop production at 21 Acres.  At least, this summer’s heat waves naturally helped some growth of sweet potatoes, however.

We had the annual inspection for organic certification this month.  This is the fifth year since the farm became CerIMG_0064tified Organic.  Once a farm becomes Certified Organic, organic certification is an ongoing process every year.  Besides growing food in compliance with the National Organic Program standards, we are required to keep all the production/sales records for annual inspection and document farming practices as an organic producer.   By the way, we recently conducted a water quality test for our well (irrigation) water.  We tested it for E.coli, fecal and total Coliform and the test result said the pathogens were “not detected.”  We also checked arsenic and nitrate/nitrite in well water. Nitrate/nitrite were not detected.  Arsenic was detected slightly higher than state reporting level, but we are not required to report to DOH (Department of Health) because we use well water for irrigation purpose only and not for drinking. Interestingly, according to the lab, arsenic is generally detected higher in well water in Woodinville, Duvall and Carnation area, whereas in Bothell and Bellevue there is no detectable arsenic in groundwater and North Bend/Preston’s well water contains three times more arsenic than Woodinville. To speak of arsenic, here’s additional information on arsenic and environment in the Puget Sound area.  We continue to monitor well water quality as well as heavy metals in the soils which I talked about in my previous farm update.IMG_0175

Fall is a great time for comfort food.  Check out our retail market for all the good stuff grown locally so that you can keep eating healthy throughout this fall and winter. Happy Halloween!

Farmer John

You can follow this farm update in pictures here.


Recently 21 Acres staff visited Waste Management’s Cascade Recycling Center to learn more about the process and to help share this greater knowledge with others. Andrew Ely took time to write about the field trip:

What we learned when visiting Waste Management’s recycling center:

In order for materials to be recycled through curbside pick-up it must meet three criteria:

1)      Collectability – is the material easy to collect? Can it fit into the bin and the truck?

2)      Sortability – does the material have characteristics that allow it to be sorted (is it magnetic)?

3)      Marketability – does the item have a market ?  Is there a processor who can use the material?

All of these criteria must be met.  The material must be collectible, sortable, and marketable.  If any one of these criteria is not met, it cannot be recycled through Waste Management’s single stream system.  However, individuals can rethink, re-purpose and reuse their own materials and in many cases there is a place to take the materials. For example, Styrofoam can go to Styro Recycle in Kent.

In order to most effectively recycle by placing items in the bin as they were purchased.  This means do not crush, wrinkle or shred anything.  Plastic-free shredded paper can be composted.  Shredded paper never makes it to through the facility.  In fact, during our visit, anywhere we looked we saw shredded paper.  It makes like confetti in the truck and the facility and never makes it through the sorting process.

Dirty recyclables foul the system and lower demand for materials.  All recyclables must be cleaned.  And, how clean is “clean?”

Does it drip?  Rinse it.

Yogurt, ice cream, milk, juice, wine, beer, or any other food or soap jugs, tubs or cups?

Fill the container one quarter of the way full with warm water, shake vigorously, pour it out.  Place the container in the recycle bin.  No lids please.

What to do with containers for peanut butter, mayo, mustard, honey and other viscous liquids?

Can you make a sandwich with it?  Scrape it out with a spatula.  Place in recycle bin.  No lids please.

Not enough to make a sandwich?  Let the dog lick it clean, rinse and place in recycle bin.  No lids please. – Jane asked the question “Is dog-lick clean, clean enough?”

There should be no significant amount of food, debris, or other “leftovers” in the container.

Plastic bags are a “No-No!” in the curbside.  But many groceries collect them and sell them directly to the processor. Plastic bags, cords, hoses, ropes and the like, bind the gears, cogs, and belts of the processing machines, stopping the facility.  This costs time, money, and resources which is reflected in the bills of customers.

Please place all grocery plastic bags, garbage bags, newspaper bags etc. into one grocery bag and take it to a collection site in your neighborhood.

Aluminum anyone, Eddie Current's hard work
Aluminum anyone, Eddie Current’s hard work

This is the result of an Eddy current.  It is one of the last steps in the sorting process.  Aluminum and plastic containers are the last items on the belt.  The Eddy current creates a repelling magnetic field of sorts that “pops” aluminum off of a conveyor belt across a gap, and into a container.  The rest of the materials, plastic (which is unaffected by the Eddy current) fall into the gap and onto the next conveyor.

Jane in front of the tipping floor
Jane in front of the tipping floor

After the truck drivers run their route and fill up, they bring their trucks to the “tipping floor” where they tip their truck and the contents are dumped out.   Over 600 tons of collected bin contents are tipped each day.

Sean [I need one of those] ref_magnet
Sean [I need one of those] ref_magnet
Check out this amazing magnet that removes any ferrous metals from the conveyor line.  That is one awesomely big electromagnet, with a conveyor attached.  Sean, a mechanical buff, spoke of wanting one at home…just for fun.

Someone is sorting your bin
Someone is sorting your bin

Everything that is tipped onto the floor gets sorted by hand too.  People physically touch everything that goes into your curbside bin, be careful what you put in.  Black garbage bags (full or empty) are removed and put in the landfill.  For that matter, any bags (with their contents) are put in the landfill for safety reasons.  Please place all clean recyclables loose in the container; no bags, please.

STK and all those plastic bags are hand sorted out
STK and all those plastic bags are hand sorted out

Speaking of plastic bags.  Lose bags are often pulled off the line.  Behind Sean, Tyler, and Kimberly are thousands of plastic bags.  Plastic bags bind the gears and cogs of the sorting center, causing it to stop and ultimately costing the customer.  Please refrain from placing plastic bags in the curbside bin.  Plastic bags can be recycled at many local grocery stores.

When you do not know what to do with an item, please refer to your local collection service rules.  Each region is different, depending on collectability, sortability, and marketability of the recyclables.

Before placing anything in a bin, make sure you verify that it is clean, it belongs in the bin you are placing it into.  When in doubt, ask someone.  Call Waste Management, call the Garden Hotline (they know more than just gardening), visit King County’s “What do I do with…?” webpage.

— Andrew

toesIt seems there’s another baby boom on the way. We’ve had lots of visitors at 21 Acres the past couple of months who are new parents or soon-to-be parents. There are so many decisions, so many choices to make with a growing family. In our on-going effort to provide information and resources for consumers, we’ve added a section to the 21 Acres Green Resources Directory that’s all about kids. We’ll start with the littlest ones!

Eliminating a baby’s exposure to harmful chemicals is so very important. Children are more susceptible to the effects of toxins, more so than adults. Their little immune systems are immature and much less capable of eliminating chemicals. Decreasing their exposure could could lower the risk of allergies later on, sensitivity to other elements, and even lower the risk of cancers and other disease and illnesses.

From nipples and bottles, to pacifiers, to diapers, to shampoo, to linens, to furniture; choose the products you know will keep your child safe and healthy. Here are some resources and shopping sites to help with your purchasing decisions:

And, the Environmental Working Group has a whole list of non-toxic products for babies and moms. Check it out here. Now, pinch those sweet cheeks and tickle those little toes for us please!

(As always, if you have information or a resource to share with us, please let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!)

Hi, all.

Fall is in the air!   Crisp air and shorter daylight clearly indicate the season’s shift. Frankly, this change of the 2015-08-17_11-17-33_415weather is such a relief after the unusually hot and dry summer/drought we had for the last few months non-stop.  No more fight for water….at least for now.  The rain we have received at the beginning of September certainly rejuvenated soils….and our spirit.  In fact, the ground is still moist!  Earthworms we didn’t see in the soils during the dry summer days are back now while they dug deeper into the ground where it was moister when conditions were dry. This summer was quite a challenging growing season; and yet, it was another learning curve….perseverance and faith in “nature at work” after all the labor we put in. (more…)

Our regular customers know Jen, Meghan and I are familiar faces in the Farm Market. We work hard to source quality produce and have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to what is in season, where it was grown and how it can be the highlight of your dinner tonight. Fewer of you may know we are privileged to spend a few hours each month working alongside our farmers here at 21 Acres. During our time on the farm next to John, Mary and Pepe, we inevitably learn heaps about the seasonal challenges facing our farm, tricks of the trade to organically manage pests and humility in the face of growing food sustainably. This July all three of us ladies helped out with the copious amount of weeding taking place in the fields and refined our definition of “weeds.”

In and among the 150+ crops grown on the 21 Acres Farm grow a variety of weeds constantly in need of a pulling. However, for those who know what to look for, several of these “weeds” have long shown up on the plate at mealtime. All three of us had the chance to try or cook with one in particular: purslane.

Purslane -- a tasty, health-promoting "weed"
Purslane — a tasty, health-promoting “weed”

Purslane is a common plant found widely throughout the world and is all too often classified as a weed. Having tried purslane in several different recipes, we Market gals advocate eradicating this “weed” by eating it! A member of the succulent family, purslane is crunchy, tart like a lemon and has high levels of pectin, which make it great for thickening soups and stews. (Check out Chef Asako’s soup recipe below).

Not only a delicious and versatile ingredient, purslane is a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. It is high in vitamin E, (six times more than spinach), and a huge source of omega-3 fatty acid. Purslane is also a wonderful source of vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin, potassium and phosphorus. Amanda Bullat, the 21 Acres Sustainable Food and Nutrition Education Coordinator, adds, “the nutrition content of wild or “weedy” greens is well above our more cultivated greens. As mentioned above, the high content of omega-3 fatty acids coupled with the vitamin E and C as anti-oxidants also make purslane a great anti-inflammatory food. Help for those who suffer from chronic join pain, muscles soreness/stiffness, skin conditions, and many autoimmune conditions.”

Have I enticed you to give purslane a try? First, check your garden. You may very well find it growing in your own yard. If you need an Organic source, stop by the 21 Acres Market. We are harvesting most days the Market is open (Wednesday-Friday, 11-6, and Saturday, 10-4).

— Liesl


Thanks to our staff and wonderful customers we have a starter list of recipe suggestions for purslane. Check them out and let us know if you find a favorite. Here are some beginning ideas for giving purslane a try and see the recipe below for a tasty soup:

  • Toss fresh into salads for a crisp tart addition to your greens.
  • For an Asian flavor, chop and sauté purslane with a bit of soy sauce.
  • Pepe recommends using purslane instead of spinach in a flank steak dish he makes. Start by sautéing seasoned flank steak. Then simmer in blended pepper, tomato, garlic and onion. Roughly chop and toss in the purslane for the final 2-3 minutes.
  • The high water content is great for a low fat pesto. Cut the oil in half and substitute purslane for ½ the herb in your recipe. I tried this with our 21 Acres lemon basil…my oh my!
  • Toss with your morning eggs or stuff in your omelet.
  • Thicken soups or stews naturally – a delicious recipe that showed up on the 21 Acres Deli menu is shared below

RECIPE: Purslane and Grain Soup – From the 21 Acres Kitchen

(Serves 3 to 4)

Purslane –1.5lbs (become about 1# after cleaning)

Onion — 1 each

Garlic — 1 clove

Tomato — 3 each (about 1 lbs)

Tomato paste (optional) 1TBS

Grain (Barley, Spelt, Rice…) (Cooked) — 1 cup

Salt — 1tsp

Red pepper flakes

Chicken/Vegetable stock 3 cups


  1. Clean and cut off bottom of the purslane. (Cut the harder root and stems off and use the only soft part of purslane).
  2. Small dice onions and garlic. Peel tomatoes by poaching and roughly chop them.
  1. In a soup pot, fry garlic and onions. Add purslane and fry them for a minute.
  2. Add tomato and tomato paste.
  1. Add grains, stock, and salt. Cook until it thickens a little.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to adjust flavor. Sprinkle with red pepper if you like spicy.

 “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  (Thomas Fuller)

2015-07-21_13-44-11_904 2015-07-22_11-27-27_64

Nearly 15 years farming in the valley, I had never experienced such a desperate need of water/watering for growing food. The much anticipated rainfall we received about a week ago was just a brief relief, and didn’t do much to quench the thirsty ground. Many areas on the farm are still bone dry. Normally, soils in our fields retain some moisture even in early/mid-summer, but that’s not the case this year due to the abnormally hot and dry spell we’ve been having since May and June. We all know summery weather usually doesn’t arrive in the region until around July 4th, but, this year the unusually warm/dry weather started in spring, on top of this winter’s low snow pack.  

We are not the only farm in such an extreme dry condition, however. There are many other local farmers who are in the same boat, or even worse coping with the drought. We’ve been watering almost everyday (but not every crop, every day) since June except the last week when more normal weather briefly returned (temps were back to 70’s with sunshine and clouds). There are a few key elements we always assess when/before we water: 1) How much water our crops need. 2) How much water our watering methods apply. 3) How much water is shared among the users per water pump capacity and water limit/day. 4) How to balance water use between 1) 2) and 3). We rotate the watering schedule weekly and assess/prioritize daily which crops need water first/more/less/none based on the crops condition/growth (how they look and how the rooting system is established – deep/shallow) and how dry the ground is (surface dry/one inch, two inch, three inch deep or deeper). Other factors we consider for watering are the timing of a crop’s harvest, crop’s life span, crop’s maturity (newly transplanted crop needs frequent watering to establish rooting system and direct seeding requires water for the seed to germinate), soil characteristic/condition and water permeability (silty loam, sandy, clayish, muddy), watering method (we use drip irrigation, overhead sprinkler, hand water, furrow irrigation), weed condition (weediness can be advantage/disadvantage) and real-time weather condition/forecast. Out in the field, we assess these factors so that watering can be done timely, efficiently, practically and hopefully without much waste.  In addition, we face the limit of water use at 5,000 gallon per day, as well as cope with the water pump’s pumping ability since we share the same well with other gardeners on site.

Overall however, we’ve been managing our water situation with rationale, not with whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting.” (Mark Twain). We are already reducing and/or quitting watering some crops such as summer/winter squash, pumpkins, onions/leeks and hardy greens (chard, kale, spinach) based on their growth/maturity and the timing of harvest in order to conserve water. We are also experimenting a solar powered timer for irrigation so that some crops can be watered at night and/or during the least constraint hours of the water use among all the gardeners, which hopefully results in more efficient watering compared to watering during the day. However, we have to carefully evaluate and apply night-time watering as it can potentially trigger some negative impacts such as disease and pests. As we use row cover for most of the crops we grow in the field, elevated moisture by watering at night could pose some risk to plants such as mold/mildew/bottom rot/fungus/pest.  Slugs would favor moisture at night, too.

Pest issues: some nematodes are very active (aggressive) this season because of the warm weather. We lost watermelon plants as nematodes devoured the roots. They also attacked some transplants of artichoke. We could rescue the artichoke plants by treating the soil with sugar water, however. A few years ago, we used sugar water to successfully treat cucumber plants when nematodes attacked them. So, this time we applied the same method/sugar water for the artichoke plants and it did work to rescue the plants. Flea beetles are another pest attacking our tender crops more than normal….arugula, mizuna, komatsuna and mustards are major victims. Even kale (hardy green!) has been attacked by flea beetles. We use row cover to protect them from such pest, but flea beetles are so vicious this year. We put catnip plants right by the pest laden arugula and it worked to repel flea beetles and was effective enough to maintain the crop for harvest. Kale…..we trimmed the leaves of the flea beetle infested kale plants and watered well in order to enhance kale’s own strength and immunity, hoping flea beetles would stop infesting. Logistic behind this approach is that strengthening the weakened kale plants (heat stress/lack of water) back to more normal and healthy state by trimming and watering could work because often times pest targets weak(er) plants first. We already let go of komatsuna, mizuna and mustards due to flea beetle infestation, but tactfully we used them as a trap crop by leaving them as a bait to attract (trap) flea beetles to them so that they won’t go to other crops.

Sunshine and warm temperature contribute to a good yield and abundance assuming there is enough water available. And yet, if the condition goes beyond normal (temperature above 85 degrees or so), abundance could evaporate into the air. Too much heat can cause stress to many plants and negatively affects yield. For instance, we noticed tomato plants suffered a bit during the consecutive weeks of the heat spell; blossoms were falling off due to the high heat/stress. Although we have a decent quantity of tomatoes fruiting, abundance may be questionable if the heat wave returns and persists for the rest of the summer. August (usually driest and warmest) is just beginning.

Eat the season: have you tried our sweet carrots yet? They are candy sweet, really. We worried about carrot fly as I reported in my previous farm update, but so far carrots look and taste great, and wormy damage is minimum to normal at this point.  We grow Yaya, Merida and Chantenay carrot varieties. We are also experimenting growing carrots and dill together as dill may help repel carrot fly (smell of dill confuses carrot fly detecting carrots). Interestingly, carrots and dill are not considered companions, however! We’ll see how they play out together.

Onions and corn are looking really good out there.  Perhaps, it’s because they have been weeded better (thanks to volunteers!), watered in a timely manner and getting more sunny days than normal. Longer/more days of daylight are crucial for onions to grow and mature. Corn tassels are up and ears of corn are already forming well. Corn harvest may be a week or two earlier this year. Winter squash and pumpkin plants look happy….gourds are already producing fruits!

Summer cover crop/buckwheat: we planted buckwheat in some fallow areas for summer cover crop as part of crop rotation and soil tilth (buckwheat is a great nitrogen fixer, weed suppressor and fast growing without much water). However, we had to water buckwheat this time when we planted in mid-July. We normally don’t have to water cover crop because the ground is usually wet (such as fall/winter cover crop/winter rye) or keeps some moisture through July (summer cover crop/buckwheat), but not this time. We almost gave up planting buckwheat in Field 3 just to conserve water, but timely enough, last weekend’s rainfall made it possible to plant the second batch of buckwheat in Field 3 without irrigating water.

Crop failure/loss and crop diversity: as the dry weather and heat spell may continue, we are not immune to crop failure/loss to some extent.  In fact, we lost a few lettuce crops and some leafy greens due to the extreme weather. And yet, having a diversity of crops has been good to our food production no doubt. Extreme condition, extreme measures. We grow well over 150 varieties of vegetables and herbs.  A couple of good reasons for that are: marketability and risk factor diversification. The potato famine in Ireland? Growing diversified crop varieties helps us being able to serve a wide range of buyers and reduce the risk factors of crop failure/loss (some varieties may fail, but others may not….there is always something for backup). It’s a good principle to practice. Extreme condition/abnormal weather like this year and extreme measure/diversification.  Examples are…. some of our lettuce varieties are performing poorly due to the heat wave, but we have other lettuce varieties relatively producing well enduring the extreme weather. We grow four varieties of kale and one of them has been heavily attacked by pest, but three other varieties are sustaining good yield. That’s all for this farm update.  You can also follow this report with pictures here.

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Home Canning: Why the idea strikes fear in so many I do not know. After all, it seems scarier to trust “big AG” with one’s food than one’s own hands.

Last year I started getting serious about canning. “To put something up” as my grandmother calls it…. I remember my mother canning a bit — she made peach jam and raspberry freezer jam. I was never really interested in cooking, much less canning, with my mother. I began to dabble a bit in food preservation two summers ago. Peaches are by far my favorite fruit. I could eat them every day, all year round. Plus, I have small children and I want them to eat well. I would rather have them eat peaches preserved in sugar at the peak of freshness than fruit shipped thousands of miles. So that was the goal: can some peaches for my family and me to enjoy during the winter. I began to invest in jars. I canned halved peaches in light syrup, made bourbon poached vanilla peaches (THE BEST) with the intent to give them as gifts — but taking into account the cost of making them (peaches, vanilla bean, and bourbon- nothing cheap) and that I only yielded about 6 jars meant I did not make enough to share. But boy did we enjoy opening each jar of peaches in the winter. We ate them with breakfast, snacks, made desserts and enjoyed them on ice cream. I even boiled down the light syrup to make thicker syrup to put on crepes and pancakes. (more…)

Pilchuck "Green" Riding Lawnmower
Pilchuck “Green” Riding Lawnmower

Check out the “riding lawnmower” that can only be described as green to the second power—human power that is.   21 Acres’ Sustainable Event Specialist, Jane McClure, had to try the newly constructed hybrid lawn-bike at her sister’s Pilchuck river-front property over the 4th of July weekend.

Granite Falls resident, Craig Petite, fashioned the lawn-bike from parts and equipment he found in his yard and brought it over for his neighbors, Paul and Mickey Mansell, and their family to try out.

Everyone agreed it’s a clever, fossil fuel-free, fun way to mow, however, a bit of work to perfect: The front push-mower steering might make all the difference.

Ed Begley Jr’s bike powered toaster is another fun idea in keeping with the Pilchuck Riding Mower. Tell us if you’ve tried something fun like this!









I hope you have been enjoying this beautiful spring weather.  As a farmer, I certainly welcome sunshine/photo

synthesis, but heat….a bit oppressive. It’s been so unusually sunny/warm/dry throughout this spring.  It’s still June, however.  It already feels like mid-summer, or even warmer.  We’ve been very busy in the field due to the outcome of the abnormally warm and dry conditions. I guess farmers are already tired!?….well, I may be speaking for myself.  Although farming never gets boring (or fun?) when the weather hits like this, it certainly cultivates us to keep faith and optimism with Mother Nature at work. (more…)

This month’s topic of discussion at the Tuesdays at 21 event was “Seeking Energy Independence.” If you’re familiar with the 21 Acres Center, you might have seen the 26.1 kW solar photovoltaic roof-mounted system that contributes to generating roughly 10-15% of the facility’s energy demand (Sunergy Systems). Renewable energy was one of the categories the 21 Acres Center earned credits for when achieving LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum Certification, among other energy-efficient systems integrated with the green building.

The 21 Acres Center is a commercial model for showcasing innovative designs in buildings and just within the past year, it has inspired a Woodinville homeowner to install solar panels on his home. At the Tuesdays at 21, Steve Wright led a group of people to look at his residential photovoltaic system and he was accompanied by NW Electric and Solar who installed his system to help answer questions.

Unfortunately, there’s an overwhelming stigma about the effectiveness of solar in the Pacific Northwest and how the return on investment isn’t that rewarding. Wright’s 7.35kW solar panel system, however, will pay for itself in 5 years which isn’t a long time if you consider that he’ getting paid $4,300/year to produce power for Puget Sound Energy (PSE) simultaneously.

Here’s how it works:

The power from the array is fed through a production meter to the home’s panel and PSE pays the homeowner 54 cents per kilowatt hour. The customer is using that generated power and does not have to pay PSE the average 10.7 cents per kilowatt hour as all homeowners do. In this case, Wright is literally spinning the net meter backwards and is making free money every day the sun shines. Also, if homeowners produce more energy than they use, they can get paid by selling it back to PSE.

If you’d like to find out more information on solar photovoltaic systems, stop by 21 Acres for a tour and talk with our facilities team. They are a fountain of knowledge and can show you how you can save money and energy through a number of different sustainable systems.

Save the date for the next Tuesdays at 21: On June 23, we’ll have guest speakers talk about “From Seed to Table: The Cost of Food.”

— Aaron

I love the taste of spring bitter greens, tender lettuces and fresh, young garlic. It is such a welcome change from the same cured or dehydrated garlic flavor.

Green garlic is basically the young, uncured, not fully formed bulb garlic. The raw flavor is sweeter and less intense. I love to use it in anything and everything that calls for garlic. I use about 3-4 inches from the root up the stalk. The unused portion can be added to a vegetarian or chicken stock pot.

The typical Green Goddess dressing consists of lots of fresh herbs — an abundance of tarragon, sour cream or mayonnaise, and anchovy paste. It was the “it” vegetable dip in the 1970-80s. I thought I’d try the tasty green garlic in my own version of a Green Goddess dressing. (more…)

If you haven’t yet taken a class at 21 Acres — the time is now. These two classes about seeds will provide the perspective and inspiration you’re looking for to continue to work for better food systems and greater food sovereignty for ourselves, our families and the greater community.

The Center for Food Safety says, “The Number One threat to Seed Biodiversity: Corporate Takeover of Commercial Seeds by Major Chemical/Biotechnology companies — The top 10 seed companies control 57% of the global seed market. Seed industry concentration has resulted from major pesticide manufacturers like Monsanto, DuPont, Bayer and Dow buying up half the world’s seed supply…These corporations use several different methods of control over our seed supply.  These methods include patenting; genetic engineering; technology use agreements; and terminator technology designed to make plants sterile so they are unable to reproduce, and so that farmers are unable to save the seed from these crops for future planting.”

21 Acres has worked with Caitlin Moore, Root & Radicle Seed Co, to develop two classes to help people gain a better understanding of the current state of affairs related to seeds. The first class will address how the seed industry arrived at where it is today and what the trend toward patented seeds means to farmers, gardeners, and growers.  You’ll learn what individuals are doing to change the system and to ensure that our next generations aren’t dependent upon corporations for food sustenance. In the second class, Caitlin will help growers incorporate seed production and seed saving into their own gardens — learning how to perpetuate life without corporate dictatorship. (more…)

Mary and Pepe, 21 Acres' farmers, filling boxes of carrots in the fall destined for Seattle-area restaurants
Mary and Pepe, 21 Acres’ farmers, filling boxes of carrots in the fall destined for Seattle-area restaurants
Austin, Food Hub Coordinator, and Chantal, child care food service director, pause for a moment while loading food for the kids' cafeteria.
Austin, Food Hub Coordinator, and Chantal, child care food service director, pause for a moment while loading food for the kids’ cafeteria.

21 Acres is a partner in the Puget Sound Food Hub along with two other nonprofit organizations and one family farm. We work cooperatively to aggregate and distribute food from producers in a six county area: Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan, Snohomish and King.  The farms hat we work with are stewards of the land — using some of the most sustainable production practices available.  Many of the farms are Certified Organic and all are working to limit pesticide use and reliance on any unnecessary equipment that burns fossil fuels.

As part of 21 Acres mission, our goal is to help find ways to limit greenhouse gasses and adverse affects on global warming. Traditional food systems are built on moving (trucking, shipping or flying) food long distance using fossil fuels.  We’re striving to building something different — an infrastructure that not only helps small family farms access local wholesale buyers, but doing so at an affordable cost while limiting or eliminating any COs emissions.

21 Acres currently uses a Dodge Sprinter to move food, fueled with bio-diesel from reclaimed oil-not from monocrop productions; but we want to do better.  The only way to further limit our carbon footprint related to food hub transportation is to use an all-electric vehicle.

Food Hub fall 2013 (16)
The Dodge Sprinter is essential to the food hub! We extend our sincere appreciation and thanks to the Not Yet Foundation for their support of the food hub to allow us to buy the Sprinter. The food hub wouldn’t be what it is today without the Sprinter.


We conducted extensive research into any an all options for an electric vehicle — here in the United States and abroad.  There weren’t many companies still left building electric trucks (many have filed bankruptcy in recent years) and those that were, didn’t have the refrigeration and the range capacity that we needed.  The result, then, has been to undertake construction of a totally unique, refrigerated, long range truck made with vintage parts, Tesla batteries and all American-made elements.

I look forward to blogging about the process and sharing details with you as we work to improve the infrastructure to move food. If you ever have specific questions please feel free to email me: [email protected]  We want to share what we’re learning.

— Robin

It’s spring so that means we’re thinking about the beginnings of life at 21 Acres, specifically the role bees and seeds play, and we have some very special classes on the calendar. Take a look at the 21 Acres website for Backyard Beekeeping and two classes with Caitlin Moore, Root and Radicle Seed Co.: Spotlight on Seeds – Perspectives from an Urban Food Warrior; and Seed-sational Gardens and Beds – Growing as if our Lives Depend on Seeds.

Instructor for Seed Classes
If you don’t already know about Caitlin Moore, she’s amazing — known as The Urban Food Warrior, Caitlin has been teaching seed saving and gardening principles since 2008. Raised on an organic farm in Western Washington, she went on to earn a degree in biology and plant genetics and founded the Olympia Seed Exchange. She is also the Co-Director of the King County Seed Lending Library, and owner of Root and Radicle Seed Co. 

Backyard Beekeeping Presenters: Kurt Sahl, 21 Acres Staff; Matt Barclay, Woodinville Beekeeper
As a struggling entomologist, Kurt discovered that his college degree worked best when it was applied to a hobby. His accidental apiary affiliation at 21 Acres occurred three years ago with the help of two very special Snohomish County beekeepers, Gary Gibbons and Clare McQueen. Since then, Kurt has completed the Apprentice Master Beekeeper Program and is a member of the Northwest District Beekeepers Association. In addition to the traditional Langstroth system, Kurt intends to start top bar hives this year as a way to better demonstrate live bee activity to the public.

Matt Barclay is an Apprentice Master Beekeeper working towards his Journeyman certification. In his second year of beekeeping, he watches over three backyard hives. During the week, Matt is a software engineer for Boeing. He has a Master’s degree in Computer Science, but began his education in Archaeology. He is president of the Pacific Northwest Archaeological Society. Before his career in software engineering, Matt was a Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor at Bremerton Airport. Matt lives in Woodinville with his wife, daughter and son.

Bees and Seeds for web

“Despite their artistic pretensions, sophistication, and many accomplishments, humans owe their existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”

~ Anonymous

April’s Tuesdays at 21 presentation was led by David McInturff, Board member of Seachar. He also helps expand the education and practice of using biochar at Morethana Farm in Woodinville. If you’ve stopped by the 21 Acres Farm Market lately, you may have seen the farm stove in use and some of its by-products like biochar and tooth and hand soap.

The Estufa Finca (farm stove) Project started in Costa Rica to introduce biochar and the carbon-negative biomass energy technology to create clean energy and to build healthy soils in local farmland communities. Much of the world relies on fossil fuels and coal-burning energy, but the farm stove is a sustainable tool that eliminates the harmful impacts of climate change in agricultural settings and provides many other services, ecologically and economically. The farm stove can be made from recycled or inexpensive materials which makes it accessible for anyone in the world.

Take a look at the graphic below. Globally, biochar is used in so many ways from cooking and reducing odor in compost, to improving soil fertility and tilth. The use of the farm stove started in Costa Rica because of their diverse ecosystem, but how can the use of biochar and the farm stove benefit farmland in the Pacific Northwest? One use is to simply utilize the farm stove as an alternative waste stream for carbon-dense materials such as wood, but the fact that only 1 gram of biochar, basically the size of a pencil eraser, can be used to cover 9,000 square feet of surface area is an amazing top layer for growing food. Biochar is one of the oldest new technologies that can adapt to reducing the harmful impacts of climate change and everyone can benefit from its use and byproducts.

biochar benefits






Additional Resources including websites, products, educational videos, and more:

Be sure to register for the Tuesdays at 21 presentation next month, May 26th starting at 7pm on the topic of “Seeking Energy Independence.” 21 Acres’ Pat Park and homeowner, Steve Wright, will lead a tour of an operating solar panel system next door to 21 Acres.  The company who installed the panels, NW Electric & Solar, will have a representative available to answer questions, too.  There will be a presentation following the tour and a demonstration of a small DIY solar project anyone try at home.

— Aaron


2015-04-28_10-59-41_164 2015-04-08_10-53-50_358








We are back in the saddle and our farm season has just begun! We are gearing up for another good season.  The fields have been relatively in good condition thanks to the mild weather of this winter….normally the ground would be still boggy, but so far that hasn’t been the case this spring.

To speak of the mild winter, Washington State is officially in a drought due to the reduced snowpack this year. Governor Inslee recently declared a drought emergency as water scarcity is affecting 44% of the state. I had a chance to speak with a farmer up north in Bellingham the other day. The farmer said he could already tell by looking at the snowpack level of Mt. Baker/North Cascades that his growing season would be a short one this year. This winter I also had a chance to visit San Luis Reservoir (largest of its kind in the US) in Central Valley, California, and witnessed the ongoing severe California drought condition. The fact is that the reservoir is only 66% full with almost zero snowpack in the Sierra Nevada (melting snow is CA’s main water source in summer). Climate change is happening and affecting water levels inch by inch, day by day. Drought is no longer just a California problem.  Residents of other states should take a lesson from California. Drought crisis may come across the US soon according to GAO.  We haven’t seen California’s drought economic impact yet because of the groundwater reserves. However, what if the groundwater runs out?  One of our farming practices at 21 Acres has been to grow food with water conservation top of the mind. This is, no doubt, the very year we’ll practice that approach more seriously.  No water, no food. (more…)

Working toghether to make Biochar
Making biochar at Morethanafarm, adjacent to 21 Acres
Test plot with biochar
Test plot with biochar



Morethana farm Greenhouse -- biochar enriches the soil
Morethana farm Greenhouse — biochar enriches the soil













Join us Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 pm for: Biochar: Creating Clean Energy and Building Healthy Soils. This evening event is part of our Tuesdays at 21 series to foster discussion and community engagement. PreRegister – Only $5.

This presentation will draw on Seattle Biochar Working Group’s ( Farm Stove Project in Costa Rica to illustrate how biochar technology can increase sustainability in Pacific NW food production. The evening will feature a demonstration of the burning stove and biochar properties as well as an interactive presentation of its use and benefits to gardeners, farmers, and sustainability enthusiasts alike.

Presenters: Art Donnelly, co-founder SeaChar (Seattle Biochar Working Group) and David McInturff, board member SeaChar.

Biochar stove for cooking
Biochar stove for cooking
Biochar workshop in Costa Rica
Biochar workshop in Costa Rica
The unending river of bananas means deforestaion on a vast scale -- making use of biochar more important than ever
The unending river of bananas means deforestaion on a vast scale — making use of biochar more important than ever







Here’s what is planned for the next two Tuesdays at 21:

May 26th; Seeking Energy Independence

Solar Hot Water, Photovoltaics, Wind Power, and many other ways of harnessing renewable energy to power our lifestyles can be confusing and seem financially out of reach. In this session, we’ll discuss different strategies for channeling into renewable energy, its economics, and even tour an operating photovoltaic (PV) system. Whether you’re doing research on renewable energy, own or lease a PV system, or just want to understand the Pros and Cons beyond the sales pitch – this discussion will surely pique your interest!

June 23rd; From Seed to Table: The Cost of Food

What does it really take to get food from the grower to you, and how does sustainable, conventional, and organic farming differ from each other? As a result of these operations, there’s an impact on the environment, the nutritional quality of the food, and ultimately, us.  These questions and food system processes will be explored by 21 Acres’ own, Matt Keen, RD, as he discusses sustainability and the food system.Watch for more dates and details on coming topics in the series.

Tuesdays at 21 are a nearly-free, crowd-sourced, evening presentation series for the broader Sammamish Valley region hosted monthly at the Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living. The goal of Tuesdays at 21 is to provide community members with a unique opportunity to learn from and to share with people in the interdisciplinary fields within sustainability.

Each Tuesdays at 21 will focus on a particular topic and consist of one to three relevant presentations coordinated by a 21 Acres guide. The presentations will utilize 21 Acres’ building, farm, and practices as inspiration and models for learning. Five bucks at the door will get you in but registration is requested. Doors open at 6:30, presentations start at 7, so arrive a bit early to network and share updates with others interested in good work being done in great workplaces.

For more information about Tuesdays at 21 contact: Aaron Huston, [email protected]

I was asked by the 21 Acres kitchen team to test out their new gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix that they just started selling in the market and let them know what I thought. I was a little apprehensive since the assumption with gluten-free baking is that it simply is….just not the same. However, these cookies were delicious and absolutely scrumptious, which made it very hard to not eat just one!


I made sure to have both my husband try them, as well as our neighbor so that I could get a well-rounded opinion on them. The opinion was unanimous. They were amazing. My neighbor was surprised that they were gluten-free, since she usually thought gluten-free items are dry and have a bad texture. However, she thought these cookies tasted like a traditional chocolate chip cookie. The only critique my husband had was that the garbanzo bean flour added a different flavor. Not necessarily a bad flavor but unique, in a good way. I loved that not only did they taste good but they also had a great chewy and soft texture, which is what I like in a good chocolate chip cookie.


The pre-made mix is made up of gluten-free flour (garbanzo bean flour, oat flour, millet flour and potato flour), sugar, chocolate chips, baking soda and salt.


The benefits of choosing to make this gluten-free mix are, that not only is it high in protein but it also is high in nutrients.



Here are the instructions, you simply:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the package ingredients with

8 Tbls butter

1 egg

2 Tbls milk

1 Tbls vanilla

 let the mixture rest for 30 minutes. Bake for 12-14 mins rotating once. Transfer to wire to cool.

Makes about 24 cookies.



When you get a chance, pick up this awesome product from the market and bake up a wonderful batch of cookies to share with your loved ones!

Enjoy! Sam-21 Acres volunteer

Feel free to comment if you have gotten a chance to try this new product from the market!

Eating locally and seasonally can get pretty lean in March, as March is the leanest time of year, here in the Sammamish Valley. The over wintered squashes and root vegetable are exhausted.

Finally, we made it to April. Spring is here. I welcome the longer days and bipolar weather. With spring comes our first greens; dandelions, nettles, raabs and our first new root vegetable-radishes. Radishes…. Working in a Farm Market one might think I like all vegetables, not true. I hate radishes. Every Spring I try them, hoping I may have found an appreciation, nope, still.

While preparing for a Market Demonstration I perused the internet looking for something to inspire my annual radish taste. In my demo I wanted to try something that used the entire portion of the vegetable as I firmly believe that finding a use for entire portion of vegetable not only decreases waste but it stretches your food dollar. I also researched and found out that radishes have some great health benefits for being such usual salad-type vegetable. They are high in vitamin C, detoxifying, and cancer fighting, like all other brassicas. But my favorite fun fact is that radishes can help to remove bilirubin, the cause of jaundice. Both of my babies had mild jaundice and I found that to be so interesting as a nursing mother.

So came the day to give these simple, yet amazing little radishes another try. I used French Breakfast radishes, a beautiful little red/pinkish radish with white at the root tip. I sliced them in half length wise. Cooked them in Cherry Valley salted butter, garlic, and topped them with fresh chives harvested by Mary earlier that morning. Taste was actually yummy. After sampling them out, I finished the plate all to myself… surprising.

Give them a try this week.

— Meghan


RECIPE: Sautéed Radish with the Tops and Chives

2 bunches radishes, washed 3 times

1 ½ tablespoons butter, divided

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Sea salt

Optional: Honey Infused Apple Cider Vinegar

Cut off radish tops, set aside, quarter radishes. Heat large skillet on med high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and radishes, good size pinch salt. Meanwhile, give radish greens a loose chop. Sauté radishes for 8-12 mins or until golden brown. Once radishes are golden, remove from pan, place on a warm plate. Add ½ tablespoon butter, garlic, cook for 30 seconds, and then add green radish tops. Toss, cook 1-2 mins, return radishes to pan, thoroughly incorporate. Remove from pan, top with chives and dash or two of Honey infused apple cider vinegar. Serve.

Eating locally and seasonally can get pretty lean in March, as March is the leanest time of year, here in the Sammamish Valley. The over wintered squashes and root vegetable are exhausted.

Finally, we made it to April. Spring is here. I welcome the longer days and bipolar weather. With spring comes our first greens; dandelions, nettles , raabs and our first new root vegetable-radishes. Radishes…. Working in a Farm Market one might think I like all vegetables, not true. I hate radishes. Every Spring I try them, hoping I may have found an appreciation, nope, still.

While preparing for a Market Demonstration I perused the internet looking for something to inspire my annual radish taste. In my demo I wanted to try something that used the entire portion of the vegetable as I firmly believe that finding a use for entire portion of vegetable not only decreases waste but it stretches your food dollar. I also researched and found out that radishes have some great health benefits for being such usual salad-type vegetable. They are high in vitamin C, detoxifying, and cancer fighting, like all other brassicas. But my favorite fun fact is that radishes can help to remove bilirubin, the cause of jaundice. Both of my babies had mild jaundice and I found that to be so interesting as a nursing mother.

So came the day to give these simple, yet amazing little radishes another try. I used French Breakfast radishes, a beautiful little red/pinkish radish with white at the root tip. I sliced them in half length wise. Cooked them in Cherry Valley salted butter, garlic, and topped them with fresh chives harvested by Mary earlier that morning. Taste was actually yummy. After sampling them out, I finished the plate all to myself… surprising.

Give them a try this week.

— Meghan


RECIPE: Sautéed Radish with the Tops and Chives

2 bunches radishes, washed 3 times

1 ½ tablespoons butter, divided

1 clove garlic minced

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Sea salt

Optional: Honey Infused Apple Cider Vinegar

Cut off radish tops, set aside, quarter radishes. Heat large skillet on med high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and radishes, good size pinch salt. Meanwhile, give radish greens a loose chop. Sauté radishes for 8-12 mins or until golden brown. Once radishes are golden, remove from pan, place on a warm plate. Add ½ tablespoon butter, garlic, cook for 30 seconds, and then add green radish tops. Toss, cook 1-2 mins, return radishes to pan, thoroughly incorporate. Remove from pan, top with chives and dash or two of Honey infused apple cider vinegar. Serve.

Visit 21 Acres on Saturday, April 25, to learn about sustainable building and living practices and to tour our LEED Platinum certified building — We’re participating as a “Sustainability Stop” for the Eco-Building Guild’s Annual Green Home Tour.

Bring the whole family to enjoy music, food, education and fun.  Learn easy and inexpensive tips to incorporate into your home and garden. Discover water and energy conservation techniques, food growing tips, how to reduce waste and more. The 21 Acres Farm Market will be open with seasonal, Organic and sustainable produce, local farm products and ‘food-to-go’ from our kitchen team. Come, get to know us, and learn how you can make 21 Acres YOUR community resource for sustainable action!

This post is all about the unique root vegetable that is known as sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes). Though their season is coming to an end, I know you can still find this wonderful root vegetable at your local farmers market!


I personally didn’t grow up eating these. They seem somewhat foreign and unknown in my vegetable vocabulary. That is why I was super stoked to try something new.


Something that I never knew about sunchokes is that they grow with a beautiful yellow daisy like flower. The sunchokes grow like any other tuber vegetable under the ground. The name has an interesting history much of it is unknown. Since they don’t originate from Jerusalem and aren’t a part of the artichoke family. Early Italian settlers to America called them “girasole” which means sunflower in Italian. And somehow that evolved into Jerusalem. The artichoke part was named because of an early French explorer who came to America and believed that the vegetable tasted like artichokes. They were renamed sunchoke in the 1960s for commercial purposes.


I went ahead and researched various ways to use them. Many recipes suggest that they are wonderful and tasty pureed as a soup, as well as roasted in the oven.


I roasted my first batch and used them as a topping to a flatbread pizza. I figured they would be great on their own but since I already planned for the flatbread for dinner I thought, “Why not put them on top!”


Later that week I decided to pick up some more sunchokes from my local farmers market to make them into a soup.



I found the flavor to be spectacular. They reminded me of a sweet flavored yukon gold potatoes. My husband agreed. He also was not very familiar with them and was wonderfully surprised by their taste. They have a similar texture to potatoes but without the same starch content.


Feel free to comment on what your favorite way to enjoy this unique vegetable is!



-Sam -21 Acres Volunteer

 Roasted Sunchokes

½ pound sunchokes scrubbed clean and sliced thin

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange sunchokes on parchment lined sheet pan. Drizzle generously to coat with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (I used smoked sea salt ) Roast for about 15 minutes until easily pierced with a fork.

Enjoy as a delicious vegetable side dish or add as a unique topping to a flatbread or pizza.

Sunchoke Soup

Serves 4

Adapted heavily from A House in the Hills

4 cups peeled and chopped sunchokes

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 medium onion thinly sliced (I used wild leeks from my garden)

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 ½ -2 cups almond milk (can use regular milk as well)


olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

Lay out sunchokes on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pot. Add sliced onions and for cook about 2 minutes, until translucent. Add in garlic. Once the sunchokes are done add to the pot and go ahead and add the broth. Bring to a boil and remove from heat and add in the almond milk, just as much as you want for the desired creaminess. Puree either with a hand blender or in a stand blender (be careful with the stand blender and make sure to blend small amounts at a time to avoid the soup exploding out).

Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil. I enjoyed my soup with emmer flour focaccia .

There is supposedly a debate over if you can call a vegetarian chili, actually CHILI? I was with a group of Texans, a couple weeks ago and I thought I would ask them if a vegetarian chili could be called a chili. To them the simple answer is no.


Chili, according to some Texans, means it contains meat and no beans. Once you add beans it is no longer chili. So with this conversation under my belt I decided to name this recipe three-bean stew instead of three-bean chili.

The three beans come from Alvarez Organic Farms in Mabton, Washington in the Yakima Valley. Alvarez farms was started Don Hilario Alvarez. Back in 1981 he started farming organic on a rented 30-acre plot of land on his free time. Since then has expanded to over 125 acres.


I found an intriguing farmer case study done back in 2005 by the Northwest Direct Marketing team on the Alvarez family. In this article Don Hilario Alvarez states that, “… it gives him great pleasure to be able to provide his customers with fresh, delicious vegetables that are organically grown, with no chemicals that can harm their health.” Organic farms like the Alvarez families are what supporting and eating local is all about. Recognizing and supporting those who want to improve the future of our food and health.


I made this homemade cornbread to go with my three-bean stew. I prefer my cornbread not sweet, as it goes better with savory meals without the added sugar. But feel free to use your favorite recipe.

Make this stew while the cold nights are still around and you can still find the last of the winter squashes at your local farmers markets! It is perfect heartwarming and protein packed meal. Great flavor with great northwest grown beans!



Feel free to comment on what your favorite cold night meal is!



-Sam -21 Acres Volunteer

 Rainy day Three-Bean Stew

 Easily serves 8

 1 cup dried Pinto beans (160g) (soaked over night)

1 cup dried Maya Coba beans (160g) (soaked over night) (aka Canary beans)

1 cup dried Red Chili Lava beans (160g) (soaked over night)

1 small winter squash cubed (most squash or even sweet potato would work)

3 carrots chopped

1 bell pepper (color your choice) chopped

2 serrano peppers finely diced

1 onion (I used yellow but any kind would do) diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 cans of diced tomatoes

4 cups veggie broth

2 tbls tomato paste

1 tbls cocoa powder

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1 tsp coriander

½ tsp paprika

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp chili powder

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper

Additional topping options: cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips

Heat a large pot on medium with a few tablespoons of olive oil. (I used my LeCreuset Dutch oven because of its large capacity). Add the onions and cook until translucent a couple of minutes. Add the minced garlic, carrots and butternut squash and cook with the lid on to soften the veggies about 10 min. Then add the bell pepper, Serrano peppers, diced tomatoes with their sauce and tomato paste.

At this point you can add as much of the 4 cups of broth as you want depending on the thickness you want your stew. I add it all as it tends to evaporate with the required long cooking time. Throw in your drained soaked beans and stir everything to incorporate.

Add all the dry spices and season with salt and pepper generously.

I usually cook my stew for a good 1 hour so the beans are fully cooked. Also this gives the stew time to absorb and develops more flavors.

You can check the stew at about 45 min to see if the beans for cooked fully, also along the way about more broth if the stew seems too thick.

Dress with your favorite toppings. I chose chopped cilantro and shredded cheese.

Enjoy with your favorite cornbread recipe!



Notes: This recipe makes A LOT of stew. I froze some since it’s just me and my husband but for a large family it would be plenty for a night or maybe two. Feel free to cut the measurements in half.

Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (43)

There are quite a few new classes and educational programs on the calendar now for April and May.  Culinary classes include: Fresh Fermentation, International Northwest – Ireland, Eating for Wellness — Anti-inflamatory Cooking, and others. All very inexpensive and hands on.


If beekeeping is on your mind, check out: Backyard Beekeeping Basics I & II, next Tuesday, April 7, and Tuesday, April 14. Only $10 for members, $15 for nonmembers. If you’re trying to get organized, register for: Eliminate Chaos — The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Life and Your Home. Visit our school web page for all the educational programming coming up.


We are all working hard planning for 21 Acres to be a Sustainability Stop on the Green Home Tour, April 25. We hope you’ll join us – there will be many resources available to help you think creatively about inexpensive and easy ways to adopt more sustainable practices. We’ll be adding more info to our website as planning is underway.

IMG_1160 IMG_1293 IMG_1296

The [email protected] talks have been so inspirational and offered me a chance to connect with some amazing folks doing great work in improving our food systems and natural environments.  In February, Missy Anderson, the Queen Bee, and Eli Bloom, a graduate student doing research on the 21 Acres farm, gave a great presentation on pollinators and in particular, the orchard mason bee.


On the Tuesday evening of March 24th, 21 Acres hosted Ellen Gray, Executive Director of the Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network, and Lindsey Webb, Food Programs Manager of the Millionair Charity Club in Seattle. Gray comes from a farming background and has worked in food politics for decades advocating for a more just food system and aiming to break down barriers for Washington farmers to sell their food to local schools and institutions. Active programs such as Fresh Food in Schools project connected 44 local farmers to 20 school districts across the state which has also accomplished a 717% increase in dollars spent by schools for Washington state grown fruits and vegetables since 2010. Gray told a story about how a school in Mount Vernon, WA received fresh carrots from a farm down the road and it was an eye-opening experience for teachers and students to see the green tops of the veggies which demonstrated that it’s real food that came from a farm in their own community and not processed in an entirely different state. The education involved in changing these types of policies for a more sustainable food system are really pivotal for also providing a boost in the local economy and a decrease in health issues due to eating more nutritional foods.

There are some amazing people out there working towards creating a more sustainable system for food and Lindsey Webb is doing that in Seattle — Webb works as the Food Programs Manager at the Millionair Charity Club that helps to reintegrate people into new employment opportunities and provides services many people take for granted such as doing laundry and having access to an eyeglass clinic. Webb works to provide nutritional foods for their Club’s meal programs which is sourced in their sustainable hydroponic farm located in their basement. The food travels 100 feet maximum before the fresh leafy greens are rinsed, chopped, and served with a dressing to dozens of people throughout the week. This is a huge step toward using local food systems for meal programs because much of the country still uses fossil fuels to transport food thousands of miles before it ends up in a grocery store or on your plate. However, we can change that.

Sustainable food systems can be as simple as shopping the farmer’s market in your town or growing your own vegetables or herbs in your home. There are also ways to supplement your ingredients for meals through local efforts such as in food hubs or CSAs (community supported agriculture). Then if you’re really passionate about striving to change the larger food network, there are people that are meeting and discussing the food system structure and they need your input on how things should be done.

If you missed out on March’s Tuesday at 21 program, or have more questions about getting involved, contact the Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network for more information, or take a tour of the hydroponic farm at the Millionair Charity Club. 21 Acres also has a Certified Organic farm and farm market which you can shop for fresh, local produce and value-added products, and get a tour of the commercial kitchen and green building.

Join us for next month’s Tuesday at 21 for April’s event on “Biochar: Creating Clean Energy and Building Healthy Soils.” This presentation will draw on Seattle Biochar Working Group’s ( Farm Stove Project in Costa Rica to illustrate how biochar technology can increase sustainability in Pacific NW food production. The evening will feature a demonstration of the burning stove and biochar properties as well as an interactive presentation of its use and benefits to gardeners, farmers, and sustainability enthusiasts alike! Join us for this exciting evening on April 28th from 7-8:30pm and RSVP online.


Congratulations to ‪#‎21Acres‬ Marketing and Communications freshman intern, Savan Vakaria, for a wonderful, inspirational end of quarter class presentation this week at University of Washington Bothell. And thank you to Majd Baniodeh, his supervisor at the Center for University Studies and Programs (CUSP), for initiating this pilot class. It’s been a pleasure working with you Savan, and we wish you the best of luck in your school career and future endeavors. Watch out world, ‘cuz here he comes! (Find out more about Savan on his Linked In page.)


21 Acres is grateful to be part of communities, both large and small — on the national level we participate in conversations about food systems and sustainability, on the regional level we work to provide resources to folks looking to adopt new ways of doing things and, on the local level, we appreciate being part of Woodinville sharing the north east area of Lake Washington with our caring neighbors and friends. Keeping that in mind, we share this guest blog post from a very local neighbor, Greg Garat, president of the Firefighter’s Benevolent Fund and a full time firefighter:

When you take the time to be mindful that your meal is prepared using food grown in sustainable and healthful ways, you should make sure that the same principles are applied to your dessert.

For me, dessert is synonymous with ice cream, and great ice cream is synonymous with the good all-natural stuff made by our neighbors at Snoqualmie Ice Cream.

That’s why when the firefighters of Woodinville put together our kid-focused Spring Safety and Wellness Fair, we asked the folks at Snoqualmie Ice Cream to donate a bit of ice cream for the little ones.

Instead, they overwhelmed us with their generosity by giving us multiple 3-gallon tubs.

So now we’re inviting every one to our Downtown firehouse for some of the country’s best ice cream (made right here in Maltby, WA) on Saturday, April 4 from 10 am to noon. Us folks in the big red trucks will also be serving up other kinds of yummy food if you need something more. Ok, maybe not as wholesome as the ice cream, but our team has been cooking up a great pancakes and hot dogs for years.

We’d like you guys to join us, and maybe your whole family can learn a few things to be ready for Spring.

Kids wanna use a real fire extinguisher on a real fire? We’ve got that covered. And of course we’ll keep a close eye on them. Grownups are welcomed to give it a go too. For more details or to reserve your spot, follow this link.

Greg Garat, President, Woodinville Firefighters Benevolent Fund
Greg Garat, President, Woodinville Firefighters Benevolent Fund

Greg Garat, President, Woodinville Firefighters Benevolent Fund

Your regional and local water providers have teamed up to offer several gardening classes for the Woodinville and Northshore communities. These classes will inspire you and give you practical advice on creating and maintaining beautiful landscapes that are good for you, for your family and the environment.  All classes are free, but registration is necessary for space limitations and a bit different for each set of classes listed below. The gardening seminars will be taught by local gardening experts.

Sponsors of these classes are: Cascade Water Alliance, the Saving Water Partnership, Woodinville Water District and Northshore Utility District.

Location:  21 Acres – Register for these free classes at and click on gardening classes.  You can also register for classes through this link: or by calling 425-481-1500.

  • March 19    7:00 – 8:30 pm    Sustainable Gardening-A Better Way to Beautiful; Peggy Campbell
  • March 26    7:00 – 8:30 pm    Flora of the Pacific Northwest; Susie Egan
  • March 28    10:00 – 11:30 am    Sustainable Veggie Gardening; Ladd Smith

Location: Northshore Utility District – Register for this free class by emailing [email protected] or by calling 425.398.4417.

  • March 24    6:30 – 8:00 pm    Getting Plants off to a Great Start    Emily Bishton

Location: Woodinville Water District – Register for these free classes by emailing [email protected] or by calling 425-487-4102.

  • April 11    10:00 – 11:30 am    Incredible Edibles:  Grow Your Own!; Emily Bishton
  • May 9    10:00 – 11:30 am    Less Work, Better Gardens…The Natural Way; Ladd Smith
  • June 13    10:00 – 11:30 am    Learn How to Create a Beautiful NW Garden Using Less Water; Susie Egan

This time of year, the weather is inviting for staying at home and enjoying a bountiful and comforting soup. The wide variety of winter vegetables at the 21 Acres Farm Market inspired me to make a heart-warming Veggie Soup.

beginnings of a delicious soup

I had a handful of spelt berries from the market and thought they would add a yummy crunch and unique texture to the soup. I added beans as well, because they add protein, as well as another texture element.

Veggie soups are so inspiring because you can add almost anything to them and they will be satisfying. I chose to incorporate savoy cabbage, kale and parsnips, along with the traditional soup base of mirepoix.

mirepoix mix

This mixture of veggies added a wonderful variety of flavors in the soup. What I enjoyed the most was the cabbage and kale, the soft and chewy leaves were a perfect contrast to the slight crunch of the root veggies and their natural sweetness.

chopped parsnips, kale and savoy cabbage

I also made my favorite dutch oven crusty bread to serve alongside the soup. I love baking this bread because of how easy and simple it is to make. You could, of course, buy your favorite artisan bread:

Or should I dare say… have the soup without bread…. but who would want that!

super simple and tasty dutch oven bread

The spelt berries are from Lentz Farms. The Market at 21 Acres carries a variety of items produced by Lentz Farms. It’s important to support farms like Lentz because they are growing grains that have perhaps been forgotten over the years – faro, spelt, einkorn. The farm is located in the Columbia Plateau of eastern Washington and is working towards enhancing biodiversity in agriculture. Biodiversity is key to improving the future of our agriculture systems. Increasing biodiversity in agriculture will make the ecosystems more productive, while improving the nutrients and livelihoods. To learn more about their efforts and products visit their website.

*I precooked both the spelt berries and beans before hand* Dried beans and grains bought as bulk are much more cost effective and are  easy to prepare.

The soup was warm, hearty and wholesome, making it perfect for a winter evening. Don’t forget if you don’t have the exact amount of veggies or want to substitute something the soup will turn out just fine. Veggie soup is versatile and it’s easy to make adjustments for personal preference.**


-Sam – 21 Acres Volunteer

Feel free to comment and let me know how your soup turned out and if you added or substituted anything!

Veggie Soup with Spelt Berries and White Navy Beans


1 onion diced finely

3 carrots diced finely

1 small bunch of celery diced finely

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 large parsnips diced

Half a head of savoy cabbage thinly sliced

1 bunch of kale chopped

8-10 cups of veggie broth

1 ½ of precooked spelt berries

2 cups of precooked white navy beans (or two cans)

Small amount of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil and heat. Add the mirepoix mix (onion, carrots and celery). Cook until onions are translucent and carrots have slightly softened.

Add parsnips and garlic and cook for 5-10 more minutes. Add broth, kale and cabbage and cook until leafs are softened, allow to come to a low simmer. Add spelt berries and beans. Season with pepper and taste. Add salt depending on your preference of saltiness.

Serve with your favorite fresh bread and enjoy a wholesome hearty and healthy dinner.

Serves 8-10 large bowls


*Precooking whole grains and beans is simple and makes the cook time for the soup quick.

I boiled 1 cup of spelt berries in 3 cups of water for 1 ½ hours over medium heat and they had a nice slightly crunchy texture which is how they should be, chewy but not hard.

For the beans I had about 1 ½ cups of dried white navy beans which I soaked over night to lesson the cooking time. I rinsed and drained them before cooking and picked out any funky looking beans. Cook them in about double the amount of water and check for doneness at about 30 min. Cooking time depends on how large the beans are and how long you soaked them.

**Suggestions for other ingredients:

other white beans like cannellini or great northern beans

spinach, swiss chard, butternut squash, any root veggie would work.

One tradition that my husband and I have started is always cooking something special for Sunday breakfasts. One of his most requested items is Pfannkuchen, being that he is German, but people may know this classic treat as Swedish pancakes or crepes. They are enjoyed in many different cultures but no matter what you call them they are especially delicious.


I grew up with a fond memory for Pfannkuchen, however in my house we called them Swedish pancakes. My dad was always in charge of making them, as he had learned the recipe from his Swedish mother. My sisters and I loved eating them with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar. Tart and sweet is exactly how I remember these pancakes. (more…)


My name is Sam and I am a new volunteer at 21 Acres. I am here to introduce myself and let you know that over the next few months I will be blogging for 21 Acres and I look forward to sharing recipes and inspiration for ways to use products from the Farm Market.

I was lucky enough to find this opportunity with 21 Acres, as I have always loved being in the kitchen. Being able to use local and sustainable ingredients as my canvas will be a fun and interesting learning opportunity.

The Farm Market at 21 Acres has so many wonderful items to use in the kitchen that I hope to get followers excited to cook with new items and find delicious ways to use healthy wholesome ingredients.

I greatly look forward to sharing my time in the kitchen with you.

Look for new blogs posts weekly as I get this project going!


New and fun farm-to-table activities are planned for ages 4 to 11 at 21 Acres! Kids learn about food and food systems while having the fun of being on a farm and helping create tasty treats in the kitchen.

Storybook Farm is a two-hour hands-on adventure perfect for a child’s birthday party or for a social gathering with friends. Each Storybook Farm event has three components tailored for specific age groups that will have them fully engaged:

Part 1: The oral sharing and interpretation of a popular children’s story relating to food ingredients, growing, and/or gardening/farming.

Part 2: An outdoor or indoor activity (depending on weather) designed specifically to create an entertaining learning experience directly related to the story.

Part 3: Staying on the farm or venturing into the kitchen. This is where the story comes together with hands-on, age-specific demonstrations of what it means to connect with food by transforming raw ingredients into amazing and nourishing treats.

Stories and activities are planned for each season as we know one of the best ways to teach kids about nature and food is to let them discover the wonders of it firsthand, no matter the time of year or weather conditions.

For more details or to schedule a Storybook Farm visit, contact Aaron Huston, [email protected], (425) 481-1500.

— Aaron

Meghan has been perfecting her turnip gnocchi recipe and she demoed the tasty creations in the Farm Market the last two weeks — yum! 

We are always looking to find new interesting ways to use local, seasonal produce. Things can begin to get tired by mid-January. I found a turnip gnocchi recipe on the Lustful Vegan’s blog, in my preparation for Market Demonstrations and was very inspired.

It turns out making gnocchi is very simple, but a bit time consuming. This is a meal to prepare with your children, as I think most would enjoy grating the potato, helping to roll out and form gnocchi. After roasting the potato and turnip mixing, rolling, formation, and boiling should take 35-45 minutes.

Since I have never made gnocchi before, this was a learning curve. I had some great guidance from the 21 Acres kitchen team and of course, tasters in the Market. The first time I used bread flour and kneaded it- I mean kneaded it — A LOT. I worked an entire additional cup of flour into the dough. An advantage to using the bread flour is it has a higher gluten content, which equals a better chance of success. The result was firm, bready tasting pasta, gnocchi thing. Edible, yes, worth repeating, no. So in my next trials I used the Farm Market’s All-Purpose Flour from Bluebird Grains and had success.

After playing with the turnip to potato ratio, I came to about a third part potato, two thirds turnip. The roasty, steam to the turnips gives a sweeter flavor. Turnips can be bitter, which is another reason to salt dough liberally.

Additionally, something to thing to keep in mind, is to handle the dough as little as possible. The less the gnocchi is kneaded yields a more tender final product. My mantra was “light and fluffy as little pillows.”

It is difficult to describe how to roll pasta over the folk to give it ridges for sauce or oil to lay in, so I found this helpful YouTube video.

I hope you feel inspired to try something new! Don’t forget to swing by the Market on Friday or Saturday at 12:30 pm to learn something new. Let us know if you try this recipe!

See you in the Market,

— Meghan


RECIPE:  Turnip Gnocchi

Serves 4-6. Ready in 1 hour 45 mins to 2 hours.

1.25 lbs or 5 medium size turnips, washed and quartered

1 medium russet potato

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup flour, plus more for rolling

1 tsp sea salt plus more for water and garnish

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Pinch dried basil, oregano or other herb

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place turnips in a baking dish, cover with foil. Wash and punch potato with folk. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour until folk slides out smoothly from the potato and turnips are soft. Remove from oven.

Place egg, flour, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl. When potato is cool enough to handle, remove skin and discard. Put potato through a ricer or use the finer side of a box grater right into the bowl.

In a small bowl, use a spoon or folk to scoop turnips out of peel. Smash turnip with folk. If you have a ricer, place turnips in ricer, avoiding pressing excess water from the turnips into potato, flour mixture.

Gently mix, just enough to form a ball. Divide in half. On a lightly floured surface knead about 3-5 times- just enough to get the mix to be able to roll. Roll to about ¾ inch diameter. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Roll gnocchi over the back of a folk to give its signature ridges. Place in salted boiling water. Cook 30 seconds after they begin to float. Repeat until all dough is used.

Serve with your favorite pasta sauce or garlic infused oil.


Meghan Tenhoff works in our Farm Market at 21 Acres. She is responsible for scheduling and hosting demonstrations each Friday and Saturday in the Market from 12:30 to 1 pm. Meghan loves cooking and using local ingredients. She gets particularly excited about helping others learn something new and taste and try delicious foods. Visit the 21 Acres website for the demo schedule for the first quarter of the New Year. In particular, we are all looking forward to February 7 when we host Madeline Eyer for her book signing.

Here’s what Meghan has to say about Madeline:  

I actually met Madeline Eyer my first time working at 21 Acres.  I was just hired as temporary event staff, helping with cooking classes and other special events. When I got the call to work the first class, I was not knock-my-socks-off-excited to help with a Raw Vegan “cooking” class.  When I arrived, however, Madeline gave me a warm smile and instructed me on a bit of prep work — I peeled and juiced lemons, measured chia seeds….

As I watched Madeline work, saw her passion for eating, and teaching people how to eat, a raw vegan diet, I began to appreciate it. I sampled all the things she made — a green smoothie, almond milk and chia seed breakfast, nut butter and sprouts served on a cracker made of dehydrated vegetables. Eating the food prepared by Madeline was like eating pure energy.  I felt great.

Upon reflection, helping in that class is what made me fall in love with 21 Acres.  Not only does the organization have a mission that I try to live by, but perhaps more importantly, warm people, helpful ideas and a fresh approach to eating and preparing food.

Madeline will be preparing a Warming Green Smoothie and signing her book, Essential Green Smoothies, in the 21 Acres Market on February 7 at 12:30 pm. Please join us!


21 Acres is on the lookout for talented individuals to join our team of presenters. Whether you’re a chef, dietitian, naturopath, student, or just love food, we are looking for fresh faces and fresh ideas to expand our ever-growing schedule of classes.

This year 21 Acres’ food and nutrition classes are focusing on what food is. And in thinking about that we came up with a few categories: food is cultural and historical; social; and healing and medicinal. To that end, we’ve developed classes for the first half of the year centering on these themes. We will be exploring these ideas in classes such as International Northwest, where international cuisine is made from local ingredients, all the while explaining where the dishes came from and the significance to that area of the world and its people.

Our classes take place in the unique and intimate setting of our commercial kitchen. Because hands-on classes are capped at 12 people, you can connect with students one-on-one more easily. If you are interested in using your creativity to teach about local, sustainable foods, please contact Matt, the Local Foods and Nutrition Education Coordinator, at [email protected] for more details.

— Matt

During the summer, I took the Cultivating Cooks 101 class. We learned important basics to cooking such as knife skills and ways to make food taste better. One way to make food better is add spices. The blackberry crisps we made in class are one of my all-time favorites.

At home, I’ve suggested small ideas that add some flavor (or pizazz) to the food. One dish I helped work on was gnocchi and vegan sausage. I also helped my mom make roasted root vegetables. I made a huge batch of kale chips for my cousins.

As a family, we decided to go on a road trip next Summer. The deal was we needed to eat at home more to save money. My mom picked Yellowstone as the destination. The idea of saving money to do cool things really motivated me to think about what we are eating. We plan meals together and shop together. Before, we were eating out at fast-food restaurants frequently.

We are currently eating a lot of organic and (sometimes) vegan foods. Eating more healthy foods feels better because of the extra energy every day, and the clean and active feeling.

My favorite items from the 21 Acres market are the different cheeses and the local-made honey.
-Jack Unruh (age 14)

Photo caption: Jack, third from left, in his cooking class at 21 Acres.

(Note from 21 Acres: Thanks Jack, for taking the time to write this post for us and share your experience. We can’t wait to hear more about your food adventures in the coming year and, of course, news about your road trip next summer!)

We’re wishing you warm and wonderful thoughts during this chilly time of year!  We took some time to list 27 things we’re thankful for at 21 Acres on this 27th day of November, Thanksgiving Day:

  1. Our three wonderful 21 Acres’ farmers, John, Mary and Pepe.
  2. For a long summer and mild fall with enough rainfall for ample bounty this season.
  3. Amazing Northwest food produced by all the hardworking farmers and ranchers in Washington.
  4. For receiving our official Organic Farm Certification on the additional two fields, meaning all of the food 21 Acres grows is now Certified Organic.
  5. Our community gardeners who are inspiring and passionate about growing food.
  6. For the Veteran’s Groups who work and grow on the farm, share expertise and build community.
  7. For our friends and neighbors in the Sammamish Valley for consistently supporting sustainable agriculture.
  8. The local charitable groups and NGOs that are striving to provide more fresh food to people in need.
  9. The good food movement working to fix systemic problems related to getting better food to people who have less than they need.
  10. The national unemployment rate is under 6% meaning that fewer people are without work than they were last year.
  11. That we have good friends and colleagues working through their associations to advance food systems in the Puget Sound: Washington State Farmers Market Association, Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Tilth Producers, Seattle Tilth, Washington State Food and Farming Network, Cascade Harvest Coalition, Slow Money and many others.
  12. Our lovely customers who are committed to shopping in the Farm Market for their weekly groceries and thereby supporting many local, sustainable growers.
  13. Farmers Markets continue to thrive in Washington – providing dynamic venues for customers to get to know their farmers directly
  14. Our sister farm, Cherry Valley Dairy, received a national first place cheese award this year in national cheese headquarters, Wisconsin
  15. Salmon were seen for the first time in a very long time returning to a recently restored creek at Cherry Valley Dairy.
  16. US and China reaching a climate accord – an historic landmark agreement to reduce carbon emissions and that gives us hope.
  17. For alternative energy systems and the growing array of lower cost resources to provide consumers with smarter low carbon solutions.
  18. The fact that more and more people are embracing alternative energy from renewable resources for not only their homes but workplaces too.
  19. For receiving LEED Platinum certification for the design and construction of our green building.
  20. More hospitals, universities, restaurants, food trucks and child care centers are writing food budgets and sourcing guidelines to meet purchasing goals for local farm food
  21. For all the kids who visit 21 Acres with parents, youth groups and schools that fill our work days with smiles and laughter.
  22. For our seamless team of co-workers who strive to spread the message of sustainability every day in their work and personal lives
  23. For our volunteers who help build programs, staff events, and provide assistance in myriad ways every day.
  24. For warm bread and great recipes coming out of the 21 Acres Kitchen and the opportunity to sample and taste new flavors.
  25. For Skippy and Lucky, our resident goats, who never lack a smile when a photographer is nearby.
  26. For the bees who produce our honey – which we often refer to as 21 Acres liquid gold.
  27. We can’t forget the worms – vermiculture – who breakdown compost into nutrient rich material to fertilize the soil.

We wish you a most wonderful Thanksgiving Day!








Have you seen the engraved pavers in front of the market at 21 Acres? If not, check them out!! Great Green Gift Idea and currently ON SALE as holiday gifts!

This paver pathway area is looking really fantastic lately under the watch and care of Facilities Team Melissa and Scott – they are carefully cultivating some native ground covers to make a lovely path (and thereby reducing the weeds). Additionally, Eagle Scout Candidate Tucker Lutz researched the best plants and planting practices and as part of his Eagle Project, planted additional groundcover. Last week I had the joy of watching a mom and child explore the pavers, reading and hopping from paver to paver – exactly what I hoped would happen!!

Engraved Pavers are such a cool way to not only support a project, but to put your permanent stamp in the universe. I purchased pavers and bricks for fund-raising projects around Woodinville with my kids’names as they were growing up – my hope is not only that the pavers will continue to enhance the feeling of community we tried to instill, but my son and daughter will bring their children to find those pavers and be able to talk about that community. Now that I have the recent joy of becoming a grandparent, I will be purchasing a paver at 21 Acres for my grandson – I can’t wait!!

The engraved pavers normally sell for $80 for small, $100 medium and $125 large. – Now through December 31st, pavers will be 20% off. (Of course you are still welcome to purchase at full price : ) with the engraving costs, there actually is very little left over, but what is, goes to our educational programs!) Come check out our Paver Path and think about having your name or your loved one’s name, engraved in stone as part of a “Green Gift.”

— Deb


Every Friday and Saturday our Farm Market hosts demonstrations from 12:30 to 1 pm.  Recently Meghan shared a family recipe for pumpkin pancakes.  It was so delicious quite a few of us staff members have been making it regularly.  I’m planning on making it for Thanksgiving morning and thought others might like to do the same.  Let us know if you try it.

— Robin

Makes 12 pancakes


1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup pumpkin or squash puree

1 egg

2 Tblsp melted butter

2 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup einka flour

3 Tblsp brown sugar or honey

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp all spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger or 2 tsp fresh minced ginger

1/2 tsp salt


In a bowl mix : milk, pumpkin, egg, apple cider vinegar and butter. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, soda, spices and salt. Stir into pumpkin mixture.

Heat lightly buttered griddle over medium high heat.  Spoon heaping tablespoon full onto pan.  Cook on both sides till brown.  Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Recipe adapted from


As the weather gets colder the heating bills can become onerous.  At 21 Acres we’re always looking for ways to keep our energy costs low and to help others do the same.  In our recent issue of the Fresh News, Gretchen Garth, 21 Acres Board President, writes about the value of passive solar; Kurt Sahl, Program Development, provides a long list of resources for information about alternative energy programs, incentives and loans.  We’ve included these below.  If you need advice or suggestions about where to start please feel free to email Kurt, [email protected] He’s a wealth of information.



For customer-generated electricity (residential) in Washington, the primary incentive source is the Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Incentive Program. (This incentive pays customers for the electricity they produce.) There is also a sales tax exemption for renewable energy equipment purchased (same Web site as above.

Renewable Energy Incentive Options

Seattle City Light has three options:

  1. Green Up — Customers pay a little extra each month to support renewable energy generation.
  2. Community Solar — Customers buy a “share” of a remote solar panel array and receive a credit on their electricity bill.
  3. Customer generation — Customer installed and owned solar array that produces electricity (Washington State Cost Recovery Program).

Puget Sound Energy has two options:

  1. Green Power — Customers pay a little extra each month to support renewable energy generation.
  2. Customer generation — Customers install solar array and generate electricity (Washington state Cost Recovery Program).


Puget Sound Energy

Seattle City Light


Database of state incentives

The one-stop shop for energy information in Washington is WSU Extension Energy Program.

Graphs that show the growth in customer-owned generation — Renewable Cost Recovery System Results.


Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union has many loan programs.


Northwest S.E.E.D. – Sustainable Energy for Economic Development helps communities collaborate on solar.

If you haven’t already looked at the 21 Acres class schedule and you’ve been bitten by the holiday crafting and cooking bug, check it out.  Here’s the line up:

Tuesday, December 2 — 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Holiday Pies  It’s time for pie! Join us for this class and learn by doing. Our kitchen staff will take you through how to make the perfect pie crust, with and without gluten, and how to fill it with delicious seasonal ingredients. Take home the pie you make—stout beef stew pie, apple pie, or pumpkin custard pie.

Yes, You Can!

Friday, December 5 — 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Yes, You Can!  Our monthly hands-on class, Yes, You Can! is becoming very popular. Sign up for this offering — We’ll be making pickled beets and red onion jam. The class is only $15, $10 for members. Have fun, learn something new and take home a couple of jars of goodness to share with friends and family.

Heritage Crafts

Saturday, December 6 — 10 to 11:30 am
Heritage Crafts — Swags and Centerpieces  Mary Saleeby, Botanical Art expert here at 21 Acres, will help you learn the secrets to creating professional-looking swags or centerpieces using greens and garden elements for the holidays. Take this class and you will learn how to make beautiful centerpieces that can be replicated at home easily; Plus, you’ll go home with a completed door-size swag.

Meghan and Kids July 2014 (63) Start Right

Saturday, December 6 — 1 to 2 pm
Start Right — Make Good Food for Growing Kids  What do you feed the little ones this time of year? Do babies like hearty greens? Do toddlers like cabbage? carrots? We’re looking forward to this monthly class when together we’ll make local, sustainable food for the youngest of kids.

Saturday, December 6 — 2:30 to 3:30 pm
Soup in a Jar — Warm Gifts for a Cold Season  Surprise the ones you love with a homemade gift to keep them warm on those cold winter nights. Great for kids and adults, bring the whole family to learn how to create a soup mix that is sure to please. Choose from chicken noodle soup, chili, lentil soup, or build your own, our kitchen staff will help you with every colorful layer of these delicious soup starters.

Thursday, December 11 — 6:30 to 7:30 pm
My Local Pantry  This month our My Local Pantry class is designed with holiday gift-giving in mind. Learn how to make: Shortbread Cookie Mix, Soup Mix and Cornbread Mix — perfect for packaging up and sharing with friends. This class is only $10 — $7.50 for members.

Farm to Table Holidays

Friday, December 12 — 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Farm to Table Holidays  Apple and mushroom-stuffed pork tenderloin, roasted root vegetable medley, black bean, squash and kale salad, and honey glazed carrots and parsnips — wow, what a meal! All local and sustainably produced. Join our kitchen team and Registered Dietitian Matt Keen to learn how to make this nutritious meal for the holidays. Register early for this class, because with this menu, it will fill up.

Colorful CookiesGingerbread People

Saturday, December 13 — 1 to 3 pm
Cookie and Gingerbread Decorating  Cookie decorating is a holiday tradition. Leave the chemical food colorings at the store as our kitchen team teaches you how to make colorful dyes from fruit and vegetable powders. Take home our delicious shortbread and gingerbread cookie recipes, and half a dozen of your own cookie creations. And don’t forget to bring the kids for the hands on decorating.

” ‘This changes everything: Capitalism vs. Climate” is a book of such ambition and consequences it is almost unreviewable.”  With a statement like this how can you stay away from this new book by Naomi Klein!

At 21 Acres we were excited to read the New York Times’ review last week of this new sure-to-be-phenomenal book about climate change and hyperconsumerism. We’re purchasing it for our lending library.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to see what other great titles we have for sharing, stop in someday soon.

c.  NYTimes review

Join us for the final Tuesday at 21 session for 2014 — Food Fight: How food politics decide what you eat and how to advocate for change.

The Northwest Farm Bill Action Group will present this evening workshop on Tuesday, November 18, 6:30 to 8 pm. We will discuss the largest piece of US food and farm policy, the Farm Bill, and talk about what it means for us here, in the Puget Sound.

This presentation is available to community organizations, schools, places of worship, and other organizations as a tool for learning about and engaging in federal food policy issues. 21 Acres is pleased to host this presentation and we encourage others to do so as well.

During this Tuesday at 21, attendees will learn:

  • History of the Farm Bill and industrial agriculture;
  • Impacts of the Farm Bill on our lives and communities;
  • What you can do about it!

Pay at the door — only a $5 donation.

Reviews from past audiences:

   “The presenters were very well-organized and made the Farm Bill accessible.”

   “Group work and lecture were both great – handouts were greatly appreciated.”

   “Really liked the conversational aspect. It is great to be able to ask questions and have discussions throughout.”

Chrysalis SchoolChrysalis School

We were so pleased to welcome the Chrysalis School to 21 Acres this month.  They’re our neighbors to the east of us.  We even have a wonderful guest post from Debbie Walcker who led the group.  We encourage anyone working with youth to contact us – we love having young people on the farm and in the kitchen!

Hello all!

What a great afternoon today 🙂

Our 8th grade Washington State History class has been studying the resources and products of Washington. In culmination of this unit, and to amplify their learning, we cook a meal (with appetizer, soup, salad, entree, and dessert) all of apple recipes. This year we were afforded the unique opportunity to work in a professional kitchen for this activity.

The amazing people at 21 Acres welcomed our boisterous and energetic group into their lovely facility. The Nutrition and Local Food Education Coordinator, Matt Keen, provided instruction in kitchen safety and helped us (Tammy, Sean, and Debbi) monitor, guide, and encourage the kids through the process of slicing, peeling, chopping, sautéing, pureeing, and caramelizing about 20 pounds of apples into lunch for our staff tomorrow. Every ingredient (with the exception of a few spices) is organic and was produced within the state. When we are all back in class together, the kids will take a little time and locate the area of each of these farms/ranches. The dishes prepared this year are:

  • Apple Mint Chutney – served with crackers and a Ladysmith Chive soft cheese
  • Apple Walnut Salad w/ Dried Cherries & Honey Dijon vinaigrette
  • Hungarian Apple Soup
  • Apple Chicken Salad – served on butter croissants
  • Chicken with Apples & Leeks – served in mini pastry shells
  • Caramelized Apples – served over vanilla bean ice cream

It was an invigorating afternoon, which previous students have said was a major highlight of the year!

— Debbie

Fofcee Coffee

Coffee choices are often very personal.  Some people like light, blonde coffee.  Some people like a medium roast, and some people like a dark roast.  How to choose?

21 Acres has solved our dilemma of what coffee to serve at our events by letting you, the members and visitors to the Market, make the choice!

Saturday, October 18, is Members Appreciation Day from 10 am til Noon.  In conjunction with an adventure in the pumpkin fields to choose your personal pumpkin, there will be refreshments, a Kitchen Demonstration, a children’s activity, and a coffee tasting/choosing time. (more…)

If you haven’t already noticed, there are more cooking classes on the calendar at 21 Acres these days. They’re scheduled to be repeated on consistent days of the month with changing menus coinciding with the seasons.  Registration fees are very inexpensive and members receive a discount.  We’re striving to make it easy for people to attend so we can share our excitement about eating local, Organic food year-round, even here when the Pacific Northwest has such wet and cold winters.


Matt Keen, RD, Local Foods Education Coordinator, has been working with our kitchen team and guest chefs to offer the following classes every month:

Start Right — How to Make Good Food for Growing Kids
Participants will help prepare their own pureed baby food as well as food for growing kids.  Plus, learn about infant and toddler-specific food safety. Emphasis will be on children’s nutritional needs and how to use local, seasonal, organic foods to achieve that on a budget. Dates/Times: The first Saturday of the month scheduled through December. 1 to 2 pm. Registration fee: $20 per person; $15 for 21 Acres’ members.

Yes, You Can!
Extend summer throughout the year by learning how to can and preserve your farm fresh produce. Take home two jars of produce that you help can while learning how to do so in a safe and effective manner. Classes will feature our kitchen team and a Registered Dietitian to help understand how preserving foods can help your nutrition through the winter. Dates/Times: The first Friday of the month through December. 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Registration fee: $15 per person; $10 for 21 Acres’ members.

My Local Pantry
Learn how to make hummus, ricotta cheese, salad dressings, salsa, pesto, and other foods from Northwest ingredients. Cut back on waste and save money as you learn how to stock your pantry without relying on the supermarket. Dates/Times: The second Thursday of the month scheduled through December. 6:30 to 7:30 pm. Registration fee: $10 per person; $7.50 for 21 Acres members.

In addition to the monthly classes described above there are other special classes being added to the calendar regularly.  To make sure you receive notice of these send an email to: [email protected] and provide your contact information.  If you have any questions about classes or are particularly interested in a specific topic, email Matt, [email protected]

Hi, all.

It’s October and fall is here!  That means the leaves are changing colors, the air is cooling down and the daylight is getting shorter. I hope you had a great summer and enjoyed the prolonged warm weather since July.  In fact, this summer was unusually warm and dry in Washington according to Agweathernet, and it looks like that abnormality may continue into fall, at least for now. The forecast is for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for the next 1 – 2 weeks. (more…)

Hi there, it’s Madeline, 21 Acres intern!

Thanks to Robert Inn Photography for this gorgeous photo of the produce in our Farm Market, including some lovely green cabbages.
Thanks to Robert Inn Photography for this gorgeous photo of the produce in our Farm Market, including some lovely green cabbages.

I’m a huge fan of a classic meatball dinner. But as a busy college student, I can’t usually spare the time to form them one by one and cook them in a pot of sauce. A couple of years ago, I experimented by cooking them in a muffin tin, and haven’t made regular meatballs since! I love using cabbage instead of pasta to use up a huge head of cabbage and get some more veggies, too.

A veggie-packed and allergy-friendly version of spaghetti and meatballs, this recipe is a delicious, easy twist on a classic weeknight dinner.

Turkey Mini Meatloaves with Green Cabbage and Marinara

Serves 4



  • 2 tablespoons oil, such as grapeseed (olive works too)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes (maybe some you canned yourself!)
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 head green cabbage, finely shredded


  • 1lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tablespoon oil, such as grapeseed (olive works too)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Hefty pinch salt


Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and salt, and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. Then add the shredded cabbage and simmer for another 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you have a food processor, use it to chop the onions, garlic, carrots, and herbs; it’ll save a lot of time! Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands. Then scoop the meat mixture into a 12-cup muffin tin that’s either lined with muffin liners (easiest cleanup) or lightly greased with oil. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the turkey muffins reaches at least 165 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing from the tin, taking off the muffin liners if you used them, and adding to the pot of marinara and cabbage. These make great leftovers, too.

Thanks for reading!

Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!


Hello! It’s Madeline here, 21 Acres intern.

Every fall, I get so excited for butternut squash season. Roasted alone or with pasta, its slightly sweet flavor and tender, creamy texture is so delicious. I also love it in this simple soup that comes together with almost no effort!

This recipe and photo are from my cookbook I wrote in high school. It’s awesome to be able to put them to use here on our blog, too!
This recipe and photo are from my cookbook I wrote in high school. It’s awesome to be able to put them to use here on our blog, too!

Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6


  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ½-1 inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, roughly diced (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (olive oil is okay too)
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt, to taste (I use 1 teaspoon)
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Organic sour cream, if desired


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, place the squash, onion, oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork and is tender throughout.

Place the squash mixture, vegetable broth, and water into a regular blender and blend until smooth. You may need to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your blender, or you could use an immersion blender. Top with sour cream, if desired, and serve hot or cold.


Thanks for reading!

Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Hello! It’s Madeline, here.

While perusing recipe blogs recently, I came across this awesome idea for thumbprint jam cookies with goat cheese! As a self-proclaimed goat cheese aficionado, I was so excited to try my hand at making a recipe using the fresh Gothberg Farms goat cheese sold in our Farm Market. I wrote and photographed a cookbook in high school, but it’s been awhile since I’ve developed and photographed recipes. It’s great to be back at it again.


The basil made its way into these cookies after I sampled the kitchen’s fruit salad with balsamic vinegar and fresh basil recently. A week later and it was still on my mind… I’m definitely a sweet and savory kind of girl! My family was mixed on the addition of basil in these – some loved it and some didn’t. If you’re not a fan of basil, feel free to leave it out!

These cookies are a soft, slightly sweet, and unique twist on a classic jam thumbprint cookie. They’re a great way to use up an abundance of ripe berries if you make fresh jam, and are delicious with tea or coffee. I hope you try them!

(Side note & shameless plug: I tried Gothberg Farms’ chevre for the first time recently and it is amazing! Not as tangy as other chevres, it is sweet and sooo creamy. Matt, our new Nutritionist and Local Foods Coordinator, doesn’t like goat cheese but even he enjoyed this one in a smashed cherry panzanella salad from one of Liesl’s market demos. Recipe for the salad will come soon…)

Sweet & Savory Goat Cheese Thumbprint Cookies with Basil and Strawberry Jam

Yield: 30 cookies


  • 1 ¾ cups unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 3 oz goat cheese, softened
  • ½ cup cane sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • About ¼ cup low-sugar strawberry jam


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and beat until mixed. Stir in the flour, salt, and basil until just incorporated. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls, and place on an ungreased baking sheet (these won’t spread much).  Use your thumb to form an indent about ½ inch deep into each cookie. Add a small scoop of jam into each indent – no need to be precise with measurements!

Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden. Enjoy!

Notes: You can use any type of jam in place of strawberry. Fig, blackberry, raspberry, apricot, or blueberry would be great, too.


Thanks for reading!

 Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

flyer, sept 11, 2014
Volunteer event September 11, 2014

Two non-profit organizations based around sustainable agriculture and community engagement, 21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living and Growing Veterans, partnered up for an inaugural volunteer work party in March 2014. Growing Veterans has a farm site near Bellingham and a couple Outpost sites, one of them being at 21 Acres. Since January and every second Saturday of the month, Growing Veterans and other dedicated community members volunteer at 21 Acres by helping to restore wetland and farming projects. It has been a strong partnership that has helped improve the quality of the environment and has established friendships along the way.

In recent collaboration with Growing Veterans, 21 Acres is hosting in additional volunteer work party on September 11th with the company, Outerwall. 50 volunteers from the company will be helping out with various farming tasks and outdoor restoration projects on 9/11 along with Growing Veterans and 21 Acres to commemorate and support organizations that are involved with local veterans and their continuing efforts. We are very grateful for this growing and successful relationship.

If you would like to volunteer at the Second Saturday work parties, 21 Acres will still be hosting its next volunteer opportunity on September 13th from 10am-12:30pm along with the support of Growing Veterans.

There are 24 new classknifeskillses on the calendar at 21 Acres this fall.  Some of these include series such as our very popular Cultivating Cooks 101 & 201 for teens.  Take a look at the website and see the descriptions as there is something for everyone: canning and preserving, healthy food for growing kids, seasonal cooking, composting, vermiculture and getting organized are just some of the topics.

The fees for classes are very low and often members of 21 Acres receive a discount. For example, the Yes, I Can class is only $10 for members: Students will learn how to can and preserve farm fresh produce and be able to take home 2 jars of produce.  Classes are planned by various members of our staff: Kurt Sahl, Principal Education Advisor, has worked with Melissa Sokolowsky and Tyler Morrison from our facilities team to plan the composting classes.  Matt Keen, our new Nutrition and Local Food Education Coordinator, has been working with Asako Sullivan who leads our kitchen staff, to develop the cooking classes.  Deb Sternagel, our wonderfully talented administrator, has planned the organizing classes with instructor, Laura Leist.

Lastly, be sure to check out our Tuesdays at 21 series: Not a class, but a fun learning environment none-the-less.


Hello! Madeline here, 21 Acres intern.

Pesto, sauteed mushrooms, and caramelized onions: I think it’s hard to go wrong with this combination.

polenta pies
Another recipe from my cookbook I wrote and photographed in high school.

These flavorful little bundles are a great appetizer or snack. Polenta is the perfect backdrop to caramelized onions, crimini mushrooms, and pesto. I love using precooked polenta to save time, but you can easily make your own, too.  The spinach adds a pop of color and nutrition, and the breadcrumb topping is simply awesome! I hope you try them.

Mini Polenta Pesto Pies

Serves 6


  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil (olive works too)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 10 oz crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tube (18-oz) precooked polenta (or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons pesto (homemade if possible!)
  • ½ cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1-2 pieces bread of choice
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent and starting to brown. Add in the mushrooms and cook until they have released most of their water. Add the salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar and continue cooking until the onions are caramelized and the mushrooms are nicely browned. Meanwhile, pulse the bread in a food processor until it is crumbs. Add the melted butter. Then, slice the curved ends off the polenta, and then slice the remaining log into 8 even slices. Place each slice into a half-cup ramekin, and top each slice with one teaspoon of pesto. Top with a few leaves of spinach, and then evenly distribute the mushroom and onion mixture into the ramekins. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the ramekins, and  bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.


Thanks for reading! 

Did you make this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Here’s another “Links We’re Loving” post from 21 Acres.

The links shared here will be thought-provoking, useful, or otherwise interesting to those like us that are passionate about sustainable agriculture. We all may have different opinions about these issues, but here at 21 Acres we love to talk about them.

We hope you take a look at them!

This weed is taking over the planet. On the upside, it’s delicious

  • This Grist article discusses the growth of wild amaranth as a weed and ways to use it. We have amaranth “weeds” growing abundantly on the 21 Acres farm!

FDA’s Six Month Update Shows There’s Still More to Do

  • This article from Food & Water Watch discusses the FDA’s recent six-month update regarding progress after the announcement of its voluntary efforts to change how antibiotics are used in factory farming.

Homemade Wheat Thins

  • Here’s a great way to make these famous crackers at home, using ingredients you trust. Thanks to Oh She Glows, one of the top vegan recipe blogs.

The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

  • Many local farmers sell chickens whole, which is the best value for the consumer. If you’d like to try using the whole animal but aren’t quite sure how to prepare it, here’s a foolproof and delicious way to cook a chicken from the blog 100 Days of Real Food.

The secret to richer, carbon-capturing soil? Treat your microbes well

  • Another piece from food writer Nathaniel Johnson at Grist (check last week’s Links We’re Loving to see another piece by him!), this time it’s all about soil health! Another reminder about the myriad ways that agriculture affects our climate and environment.


Thanks for reading our current collection of articles! Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


Hello! This is Madeline, 21 Acres intern.

If your garden is anything like the 21 Acres farm, it is exploding with zucchini right now. Here’s the perfect way to use some of it up!

This week’s recipe comes from Asako, our head chef and master baker here at 21 Acres. I had the pleasure of tasting some fresh from the kitchen and knew that I had to recreate it at home! I made a loaf into muffins and used zucchini from our farm here. Topped with a little local butter and WOW it is good! Tender, moist, and slightly sweet, this is some awesome bread.

Asako uses farro flour in this recipe, which is a variety of wheat. It’s got a great nutty flavor that is delicious in this bread – we sell it in our Market from a local producer if you’d like to try it out. You could substitute whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer.

Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins


  • 2 cups farro flour
  • 1.5 lb zucchini (washed, dried, ends removed; if using large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and seed it)
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5in loaf pan; dust with flour, tapping out the excess. (Or, prepare a 12-cup muffin tin.)

Shred the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and drain, wrapping it in paper towels, cheesecloth, or a clean kitchen towel to squeeze out excess liquid. The sugar makes a big difference – you can get a lot more liquid out!

Whisk together the rest (½ cup) of the sugar, yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, and melted butter. In another bowl, mix the farro flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Stir the wet mix and well-drained zucchini into the dry mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake until the loaf or muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. I baked mine in a muffin tin for about 25 minutes.

Thanks for reading, and thank you to Asako for this awesome recipe!

Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!


Hi, all.

Many people must have felt relieved with the clouds and rain over this past week after many days of the scorching sun this summer.  According to Agweathernet, this July was the warmest July since 1998.  The farm definitely welcomed much needed rain showers and clouds to quench the thirst of the soil and crops in the field.  In fact, the rain we received actually may help yield even more if the temperature rebounds with sunshine for the rest of the month.  We’ll see how it will develop.


Thanks to the glorious weather crops have been growing fast, big and vibrant. Have you seen the produce in the market lately?  Abundance is there and the produce is full of colors and flavors of the season.  I hope you are not missing out on the season’s best.  Loads of summer squash have been almost overwhelming since early July. Do you know how much zucchini can grow in a day? Watch the time lag pics we made for the answer. Tomatoes also love the warm weather and ripening has been consistent in the High Tunnel. By the way, we created a short video to show how to prune tomato plants. You can watch it online. Our super sweet corn will be ready for harvest next week….it’ll be about a week or so earlier than normal because of the warm summer. Here in the valley corn harvest usually takes place in late August/early September, but that won’t be the case this year. Winter squash and pumpkins are already fruiting, which makes us wonder if they might be an early harvest depending on how the nice weather sustains its system for the rest of the season. (more…)

Welcome to the first “Links We’re Loving” post here on the 21 Acres blog! We’ll be creating these posts regularly to share articles, recipes, and other pages from around the web that we’ve enjoyed recently.

The links shared here will be thought-provoking, useful, or otherwise interesting to those like us that are passionate about sustainable agriculture. We all may have different opinions about these issues, but here at 21 Acres we love to talk about them.

We hope you take a look at these links!


The 10 Most Inspirational Sustainability Initiatives in the U.S.

  • An interesting look at some of the leaders in various areas of sustainable innovation around the country

 Caramelized Peach Caprese with Smoked Sea Salt

  • This recipe would be great with local peaches that are in-season right now, and some smoked salt from the local producer SaltWorks, Inc. that we sell in our Farm Market!

 What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters

  • A surprisingly moderate take on the issue of genetically modified foods, this article from Grist brings up some intriguing points that I hadn’t thought about before. Whatever your thoughts on GMOs, this is definitely worth the read!

**By the way – here at 21 Acres we don’t use or sell GMO-containing products. However, we recognize the importance of learning about and discussing the benefits and consequences of using GMOs. 

 How to Afford Real Food on a Budget

  • This post from the popular blog, 100 Days of Real Food, has some great tips on eating sustainably and healthily while on a budget.

 What Does “Natural” Mean?

  • This Mother Jones article gives a smart reminder about greenwashing and the lack of meaningful regulation of the “natural” label.


Thanks for reading our current collection of articles! Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 


IMG_0649 IMG_0653IMG_0656  

The past two weeks have been a tense time for the budding teenage chefs-in-training from the Cultivating Cooks, Session 1 class. Last Tuesday evening, the 12th, was the Iron Chef competition, a time for the students to collaborate with a partner and put their new-found skills to the test.

At the prior cooking class, the students had been randomly assigned as partners, then given a list of foods that they would have available to use in their dish. The foods are all locally sourced, seasonal and organic. They were also told there would be one mystery ingredient that they would find out the night of the cook off. The judging itself would be based on uses of the ingredients, flavor, presentation, team cooperation, and cleanliness. The judges were the instructors, the parents and the other students. The instructors would be on hand to assist anywhere needed. As soon as the assignments were made, the partners were buzzing with ideas as they left after class.


IMG_2579 (1)   IMG_2549IMG_2568

Hi, my name is Anya Gedrath-Smith and, as the Farm Field Trip Coordinator at 21 Acres, it was a pleasure to welcome school groups to the farm this past spring. Once the weather started to warm, and the ground began to dry, farm field trips began in full swing! Students of all ages arrived and participated in an array of food- and farm-related educational activities. Students set off on scavenger hunts to learn about the “Fabulous Five” plant needs, transformed themselves into an imaginary compost cake, learned about the scarcity of farmland and the value of sustainable agriculture, designed their own seed packets, and put on their chef hats to bake tasty and nutritious kale chips. (more…)

Published by WSU’s Green Times; July 2014

When it comes to organic farm gate value (the total value of products when they leave the farm), Washington ranks #2 in the United States at $291 million – California is #1 and Oregon is #3. More than 50 percent of Washington’s organic farm gate sales come from tree fruit. Eastern Washington has the highest number of ogranic farms in the state. The graphic shows the counties with most organic farms east and west of the Cascades. Find more organic ag by numbers here.

Organic info Map

Hello! It’s Madeline today, 21 Acres summer intern.

If you’re someone who loves to experiment with and tweak recipes, then this post is for you. While traditional Italian pesto uses fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and parmesan, there are many ways to experiment, especially if you’re using in-season and local ingredients.

Thanks to Robert Inn Photography for this beautiful photo of the greens from our farm in the 21 Acres Market.
Thanks to Robert Inn Photography for this beautiful photo of the greens from our farm in the 21 Acres Market.

Pesto: it’s one of those wonderfully forgiving recipes that’s fairly hard to mess up:

  • It comes out too thick? Add more oil.
  • Too thin? Add more greens or nuts.
  • Love garlic? Go crazy with it, or try roasting it.
  • All out of basil, but your garden is exploding with carrots? Use the carrot tops instead!

If you’ve never made your own pesto at home, now’s the time to try! I thought it would be fun to create a basic template for making pesto to give you more ideas on this nearly-foolproof spread. Here in the 21 Acres kitchen, our chefs are constantly experimenting with new variations on pesto.Get creative!

We even had a 21 Acres member event in August: Pesto Through the Seasons – click here to read the recap.

Mix ‘n’ Match Pesto

  • Herbs or greens  (~2 cups) – such as basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, carrot tops, spinach, arugula, kale, mustard greens, sorrel, or any other herb or leafy green
  • Oil (~1/2 cup) – such as olive, grapeseed, safflower, etc.
  • Garlic (as many cloves as you like – usually 2-4) – try using garlic scapes, or try roasting the garlic beforehand!
  • Nuts or seeds (~1/2 cup) – walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Salt (to taste) – don’t be timid with it!
  • (Optional) Cheese (~1/4 cup) – parmesan, asiago, pecorino, etc. (I’ve even seen avocado!)

Blend everything except the oil in a blender or food processor, then slowly stream in the oil until it’s the consistency you’re looking for.

Other Tips:

  • For bitter or hardier greens (like mustard greens or kale), try blanching or sautéing them
  • Younger carrot tops sometimes taste better
  • Try roasting the garlic or sautéing it with the greens
  • You can always use multiple types of greens, herbs or nuts in pesto, too, if you want just a hint of the more flavorful greens like arugula and mint
  • Try toasting the nuts or seeds
  • STORAGE: It’s best to use homemade pesto right away, but you can store it in an airtight container (such as a jar) in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer (jarred or in an ice cube tray) for a couple months. To keep it from browning, you can pour a bit of oil over the top in the jar each time after you use it.
  • Vary the degree to which you process the pesto for chunkier or smoother sauce

Creative Ways to Use Pesto

  • Toss with steamed or roasted vegetables
  • Sauce for pasta (mix into marinara, cream sauce, or by itself)
  • Stir into waffle or pancake batter for a savory twist on breakfast (top with an egg instead of syrup!)
  • Stir into grain salad (rice, quinoa, farro, polenta, oats, etc.)
  • Stir into hummus
  • Bake into breads
  • Stir into plain yogurt as a dip
  • Spread on bruschetta
  • Spread on sandwiches or wraps
  • Use as pizza sauce (or in addition to)
  • Use as a salad dressing
  • Stir into softened butter to use on bread
  • Use as a marinade for meats
  • Spread on grilled corn
  • Dollop on cooked meats
  • Use to garnish soups
  • Stir into scrambled eggs
Thanks for reading!


Did you try this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!


Hi there!

I’m Madeline, one of 21 Acres’ summer interns. I’m a student at Grinnell College in Iowa, but am originally from Kirkland, WA and am home for the summer. I’m extremely passionate about sustainability, food, and health, and I’m so excited to be working at the sustainable food and farm oasis that is 21 Acres! I’ll be writing blog posts for the next couple of months here, among other projects, so you’ll be seeing much more of me soon.












Beets: It seems to me that you either love them or you hate them. If you’re part of the latter group, I’d highly encourage you to try this recipe below just to make sure. I’ve made this recipe for lifelong beet-haters in the past and they’ve been pleasantly surprised. The caramelized, roasted garlic definitely helps!

Plus, now’s the perfect time to be adventurous – beets have been gracing farmers’ markets for awhile, but soon farms (including ours!) will be swimming in these versatile red and golden root veggies.


Cultivating Cooks Cultivating Cooks

Before his parents enrolled him in an introductory cooking series at 21 Acres, the kitchen was never a place Cooper thought he’d like to be. Now, after completing the 5 session series, Cooper is considering a career as a chef, further proof for all you disbelievers that mom and dad know best!

In January 2014, Cooper participated in 21 Acres’ sustainable cooking series, Venturing into the Kitchen: The Basics of Cooking Seasonally, aimed at introducing young and aspiring chefs to the fundamentals of cooking and sustainability.

Class instructor and a member of our 21 Acres’ kitchen team, Brianna Paris, taught Cooper and his classmates a variety of culinary skills including how to properly handle knives in the kitchen, how to make and prepare soups and  stocks, salads, grains, and proteins. Bri incorporated lessons in sustainability into each session, teaching students how to eat in season, locate local food, compost, and create weekly meal plans.

Since taking Bri’s Venturing Into the Kitchen series Cooper has enrolled in other 21 Acres cooking classes for burgeoning chefs and volunteered to assist in culinary classes as well as the 21 Acres kitchen. Cooper has signed up for the Bothell High School Culinary Arts Program, the same program from which Bri graduated before going on to attend one of the country’s top culinary institutions, Le Cordon Bleu, here in the Puget Sound

All of us here at 21 Acres wish Cooper the best of luck in all his culinary adventures and have no doubt that he will make a fantastic chef!


If you know a young chef-to-be, check our calendar at for the next series of youth cooking classes.


Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (20) Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (51)Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (19)Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (44)Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (40) Member Pesto Event_7_18_14 (43)

On Saturday, July 19, 21 Acres hosted our summer member event:  Pesto Through the Seasons.  It was a great opportunity for members to meet each other and 21 Acres’ staff, tour the farm, and have a cooking lesson from our amazing chefs.

Cooler weather and cloudy skies made for an enjoyable time on the farm after our heat wave the previous week.  Mary gave us a brief overview of the farm, what is growing, and a few gardening tips.  We did a taste test of curly and flat-leafed parsley, harvested carrots and basil, checked out the tomato progress in the greenhouse, and everyone survived a mini obstacle course as we shimmied around gates and traveled over uneven ground.  We were a hardy bunch. (more…)

Yes!  If you’re looking for something fun and different to do this summer- come volunteer in the 21 Acres kitchen! Learn about sustainable and energy saving practices, how to cook healthy meals with local and seasonal foods, and the environmentally conscious way to wash dishes; all while helping out your community and a great cause! And, if you’re fairly new to the workforce, like me, and looking for some experience, volunteering at 21 Acres looks great on a resume!

Over the years, I’ve volunteered to help out in other capacities at 21 Acres, but this summer was the first time that I have worked in the 21 Acres kitchen. While I’ve enjoyed my other experiences at 21 Acres, being in the kitchen helping wash dishes, prepare food, and interacting with the fantastic and friendly kitchen staff has been the most fun!

When volunteering in the kitchen, you never know what you’ll be doing. While there is a good deal of dishwashing to be done, I often find myself getting to help with other, more entertaining tasks like making delicious desert skewers, using the pasta machine to make fresh spaghetti or fettuccini noodles, drying herbs, rolling out dough for delicious flat bread or pizza crust, and being the unofficial taste tester for 21 Acres talented chefs! And don’t be surprised if you hear music playing in the background!

So, if you like laughter, food, and spending time with great people who have a lot of knowledge about cooking and healthy living then 21 Acres is the place for you!

— Eva

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21 ACRES CONTEST: WHAT’S IN YOUR GARDEN? Enter to win two books (“How are You Peeling,” a kid favorite, and a 21 Acres Staff favorite cookbook), local honey and 10 dollars worth of produce compliments of 21 Acres!

How are you peeling
All you have to do is follow these three simple steps:

1. Like 21 Acres on Facebook and Instagram
2. Send us a Facebook message with your email so we can let you know if you are a winner!
3. Upload a photo and write a caption of 140 characters or less that captures your unique vegetable or fruit.

Need some inspiration? Want to make sure your photos are what we are looking for? Check out the photos above!


Did you know that we have a weather station at 21 Acres on the farm? Through a partnership with Washington State University, we have a station collecting data that is used to model weather patterns to help inform the community and importantly, farmers, about the forecast. We also receive weekly reports from WSU with detailed weather information for the upcoming week.  For example, below are excerpts for the forecast for this week,

The weather for the next 7 days can be summarized in two words: very hot. Most areas east of the Cascades will be above 100 degrees for much of the period, while the hottest areas could reach 110 degrees at some point. Unfortunately, the prolonged hot spell will also feature unusually humid conditions by Northwest standards, which means that there will be limited relief at night. (more…)

Farm Update 2014 (5)Farm Update 2014 (6)Farm Update 2014 (9) Farm Update 2014 (8) Farm Update 2014 (7)  Farm Update 2014 (4)    Farm Update 2014 (1)Farm Update 2014 (2)Farm Update 2014 (3)

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. This is Farm Update #3 – what’s happening on the farm since the last update in June.

Summer is here! The growing season is in full swing and we’ve been very busy on the farm.  Crops are generally growing in our favor except that we lost a little bit of the first and second crop of carrots and beets due to the heat wave in June and the soil issue in early spring – the ground got too wet/cold (Field 2) where they were planted.  We are still behind with weeding, which is not unusual, but most crops are winning against the odds on their own. It’s actually impressive to see their strength to grow out of weeds, indeed. For example, we didn’t have much chance to weed beans this season, but mini-tilling between the rows; and yet, all the beans have been strongly competing against the weeds and vibrantly growing….are they “magic beans?” It’s sort of like a testimony of the “Jack and the Beanstalk” story really.

Have you seen/tasted our new variety Burgundy beans yet? They are gorgeous and sweet! Onions and leeks are still partially buried under thick and deep waves of weeds, but thanks to the Secondary Academy of Success (SAS) volunteer program and our new volunteers/interns helping, we are gradually beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel….or is it merely my wishful thinking, maybe?  As the summer moves on, we continue to prioritize what needs to be done first and most accordingly among weeding, harvesting, planting and other tasks.   (more…)

Vertical Garden

If you grow your own food, you know the satisfaction in tasting the first fruit or vegetable of the season. The part that’s even better is when you have such a large harvest that there’s too much to keep and you start giving it away. That’s what I’m going through right now. I planted a variety of seedlings into a vertical garden and watched them rapidly grow. After 28 days, I have more lettuce than I know what to do with plus other vegetables growing so I’m giving it away to the volunteers who graciously spend their time contributing to 21 Acres.

At the end of May, I set up a vertical gardening system that was loaned to our organization by David Burdick, owner and designer of Earth Harmony Habitats, for the purpose and potential to improve its design and demonstrate the effectiveness of growing food in the vertical garden. The entire system is 8 feet long with 5 rows of grow beds stacked on top of each other with open space underneath for water to pass through to each layer. There’s also a trellis attachment for vine plants to grow up on the top row which I currently have tomatoes doing. Here’s a chart of vegetables I’m growing and the increase in height from Day 1 to Day 28. As you can see, it’s working successfully.

.Vertical Garden Chart

The plant growth is impressive, right? It gets better though. The simplicity of this vertical garden comes from the low maintenance of irrigation. There is a computerized timer that schedules the irrigation flows throughout the day and there’s a rain sensor so that it halts irrigation when the soil is already wet. However, I am experimenting with it right now by using rain barrels on a higher elevation to water the plants so there has been more attention to detail for the first month. Once I get enough pressure from raising the elevation, then the timer can be set.

How about growing plants year-round? There are plastic panels I can slide over the grow beds to trap the sun’s warmth and to maintain moisture levels for a comfortable plant environment. I will experiment with winter crops at the end of the year and will reduce the irrigation schedule. But for now, I am maximizing plant growth in a finite space to test which crops grow best. If you don’t have very much room to grow, this is a brilliant concept to adopt because it drains water through each row and doesn’t take up much space. Plus, you can harvest fresh herbs and vegetables anytime.

Happy Gardening,



Tomizawa family

The Tomizawa Family, sake brewers, from Fukushima Japan visited us at the 21 Acres farm recently.  We toured the fields led by Farmer John and then we sat at the round kitchen table to discuss their visit.   The daughter Mary said that she hasn’t seen her parents so happy and relaxed since the day of the devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan, and she was very appreciative of the opportunity to visit the farm.

Here’s a link to an interesting article about the family, ‘Miracle yeast” saves 300-year-old Fukushima sake tradition.

The Tomizawa’s are planning to purchase property in Woodinville near the 21 Acres farm and begin their Sake making here in the US possibly as soon as next year.  Their plan is to use rice from California for the first a few years, but in the future they would like to use “locally grown” rice.  They said that was how they made their Sake for generations, and being able to work with the farmers who grow the rice is critical for their Sake making.  In fact, the farmers who grew rice came to work at the brewery in Japan during the winter to help them make Sake.  They did not even need to sell their Sake in larger cities such as Tokyo, as their products were all sold in the local market.  Mary told me that their hope is to build an open and community-based Sake Brewery where people in the neighborhood can drop in anytime.  She said from their experience from the earthquake tragedy, they learned that the strong community is extremely important in the time of emergency. (more…)

Pizza with Cauliflower CrustElle Freeman

Last week I attended a class at 21 Acres called “Cleansing With Nature’s Most Important Tool: Food Food.” I was expecting a cooking class but this class was so much more.

The instructor, Elle Freeman, has a Masters in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She said that food, the freshly picked kind, has the ability to transform our health. She explained that our bodies naturally eliminate toxins (from the environment, from normal metabolic functions) and that a healthy body can normally eliminate these toxins. It is when our bodies are missing nutrients or have an overload of toxins that we can have aches and pains that can lead to larger health problems. (more…)

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I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather even before summer solstice.  I have no complaint about this summer-like weather, except weeds invasion in the field!   Crops are embracing this warm weather, of course, and weeds, too….they are growing like wild fire.

Every season we lay out a detailed plan of farming….seedling production (transplants), planting and harvesting (crop calendar), and weeding takes place whenever it’s necessary. Did I say “farming is weeding” before? And as usual, plans are there to be changed. (more…)

Seattle Tilth Bean Tepee
Photo: Seattle Tilth Bean Tepee

Are you looking for a fun activity to do with your child? A bean tepee is a magical place you can create easily for your children–and they can help make it! Then water the plants together during the next weeks and watch the tepee grow green and sprout tasty snacks. It will become a special hideaway for your child and a great way to get them excited about playing outside and interested in growing and tasting food from the garden. (more…)

2014_EWGcleanfifteen 2014_EWGdirtydozen

Organic food claims have changed over the years and how the organic certification system is regulated by USDA has been altered as well.  The claims some companies are making about organic food, coupled with the fact that consumers are often mistakenly melding “organic” with “local,” means that shoppers need to be more aware than ever about just want “organic” means.

Our new series, Tuesdays at 21, launched this spring to foster dialog related to climate change and food systems.  The second session in the series, to be held May 27, is a conversation about food systems and specifically about organic food, entitled, Not Your Parent’s Organic: Is it Time to Panic? The session starts at 6:30 pm for networking and program runs from 7 to 8:30 pm.

The timing of this particular Tuesday at 21 coincides with the 21 Acres Farm Market opening an additional two days a week and continuing through the high season of farming.  The Farm Market carries food that is either Certified Organic or that has been produced by local farmers who use the highest standards of farming within a sustainable system.

Those of you who know Liesl McWhorter, Farm Market Manager, will understand when she says, “We research the source of each item the market carries and we have long standing relationships with our farmers and value-added producers.  It’s important to us to be able to provide the cleanest food available for families, shoppers with compromised immune systems and for the community as a whole.”

Starting May 28, the Market will be open Wednesday through Fridays, 11 am to 6 pm; and Saturdays, 10 am to 4 pm.

Liesl also reminds us, “If consumers are looking for a handy tool to be able to make decisions about what produce they buy that’s organic and what they might buy that’s conventionally farmed, they should certainly look to the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen Plus.  The 2014 edition of their free pocket guide was just released.  It’s a great tool anyone can carry when they shop.”


June 24 for the next Tuesday at 21

Fossil fuel-free homes: Is this doable? Affordable? What benefits accrue from swapping systems?


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The 2014 farm season is going well so far, except that there is always something we have to deal with, but that’s a norm in farming just like raising a child. Parts of the fields are still wet…no surprise?…. but, we are moving forward on schedule.

Greenhouse operation for transplants began in mid-March and seedlings are growing well over all.  So far, peas, spring greens, lettuce, radishes, carrots, beets, beans, potatoes, onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy (got some slug damage!) are in, and a few more items.  Herb garden is looking good; in fact, better than last year and we added more thyme and tarragon this time.  We just seeded summer squash last week, and tomato plants may be planted this week if the high tunnel’s condition favors us along with promising weather forecast.  May is a tricky month due to weather’s caprice…wet/dry – sunny/rain…warm/cold….it sometimes even hails in May.  So, we stay watchful during this tricky month.

We have an interesting experiment going on….bird feeders and birds mobbing.  We set up bird feeders on trees in all four fields.  By doing so, we hope to encourage small wild birds feeding and nesting; in return, they mob/drive away crows that are their (and our) enemy.  We’ll see if it really works and brings a positive result….no more crows attacking our corn!?

Lastly, the goats….we have only two goats residing on the farm now….Skippy and Lucky.  The other goats were moved to Pepe’s friend’s barn for winter and they made their new home there.  Skippy and Lucky are doing well — the vet has been here for their biannual checkup.

— Farmer John

Please join us: April 26  Free, Fun Open House

Bring Friends and Family

All of us at 21 Acres continue to be on cloud nine after the Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living received LEED Platinum Certification shortly before the holidays. It was the ideal holiday gift and served as a perfect way to start off a prosperous New Year.

Please join us on Saturday, April 26 for a celebratory open house as part of the Eco-Building Guild’s Annual Green Home Tour. You can tour the building, shop the 21 Acres Farm Market, explore the farm, meet our chefs and learn new and clever things that you can do at home to lead a more sustainable life.  From 11 am to 5 pm participate in activities and talk with our sustainability partners who will share ideas and serve as resources.  We look forward to the official unveiling and presentation of our LEED plaque recognizing the highest award bestowed by the U.S. Green Building Council shortly after the festivities begin at 11 am. Please bring family and friends and come anytime between 11 am to 5 pm.

Tour the building, explore the farm, find new resources and meet new friends!

Come meet guests from the following organizations who will be on site during the Open House:

PSE Green Power | NW LED Lighting | Green Depot 
Seattle Chicken Sitter | Olympic Nursery  | Sunergy Systems
WSU Snohomish Co. Extension | International Living Future Inst.
Sustainable Works | Structural Consultants | Clean Air Lawn Care
Puget Sound Solar | ArchEcology | Bio Healthy Homes
EarthHeat Inc. | EcoSmith Architecture & Consulting 
Northwest Solar Rover | Wedesign



We’ve been doing demonstrations in the Farm Market every Friday and Saturday at 12:30 pm for the past couple of months and they’ve become very popular with customers.  Meghan Tenhoff is coordinating these and she  just sent the schedule through the end of May.  If you have an idea for a quick, easy demo that you’d like us to offer, please send an email to: [email protected]

4/11&12:      Weaning Yourself Off Plastic

4/18 &19:     Are Bees Right for You?

4/25-26:       Green Home Tour, Special Guest

5/2 &3:         So Easy Liesl Can Do It: Simple Salad dressings

5/9 & 10:      From Farmer John

5/16 &17:     Intro to Aquaponics

5/23 &24:     How to Make Hummus

5/30 &31:     Fresh Herb tasting and applications

Tuesdays at 21 are a nearly-free, crowd-sourced, evening presentation series for the broader Sammamish Valley region hosted monthly at the Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living. The goal of Tuesdays at 21 is to provide community members with a unique opportunity to learn from and to share with people in the interdisciplinary fields within sustainability.

With the exception of the first talk, April 22, each Tuesday at 21 will focus on a particular topic and consist of three or four relevant 10-15 minute presentations coordinated by a 21 Acres guide.  The presentations will use 21 Acres’ building, farm and practices as inspiration and models for learning.  Five bucks at the door will get you in but a RSVP is requested. Doors open at 6:30, presentations start at 7 pm.  Arrive early to network and share ideas.  

For more information, to register, or to “make your pitch’ for a Tuesdays at 21 talk, call (425) 481-1500 or send Deb an email, [email protected]

Monthly Schedule:

Tuesday, April 22:
WSU’s Chad Kruger will highlight Earth Day with a look at what we know about the impact of climate change on Pacific NW agriculture

Tuesday, May 27:
Mixed Messages: What Exactly Does “Organic” Mean? What do local consumers need to know?

Tuesday, June 24:
Fossil Fuel-Free Homes.  Is this doable? Affordable? What benefits accrue from swapping systems?

Tuesday, July 22:
Transitioning From the Conventional Kitchen.
Upgrade by creating a resilient kitchen.

Tuesday, Aug. 26:
Seasonal Plant and Flower Arrangements.
Create visual joy from materials outside your door.

Tuesday, Sept. 23:
Food Hubs and Networks. Entrepreneurial
Connections in the Local Food World

Tuesday, Oct. 28: 
Planning Organic Sustainable Holiday Meals.
Local really means local

Dig into summer farm fun with Youth Farm Camps by Seattle Tilth at 21 Acres. These theme-based week-long day camps are a great way to have fun while learning about the fascinating world of the garden. 

Participants spend five days developing practical garden skills, exploring plants and discovering animals. They will learn about insects, vegetables, soil and worms while playing games, making art, reading stories, singing songs and running through the sprinklers. 

Camp is offered for three sessions in July for youth ages seven to eleven, or entering grades two to five in fall, 2014. Dates are: Camp 1, July 7-11; Camp 2, July 14-18; and Camp 3 July 21-25. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and campers will need to provide their own lunch and snack. 

Seattle Tilth’s children’s garden educators have many years of experience providing high quality, educational and fun camps for children and youth. The student to teacher ratio is 6:1 and the focus is on providing a positive, structured and peaceful outdoor learning environment. Many campers come back year after year and some have even become staff members. Fee is $290 per child or $240 for Seattle Tilth and 21 Acres members. Space is filling quickly; register now at

Complete set up Final Collage Grow bed Water levels and excess flow spout

I work  at 21 Acres and I commute from where I live in a small apartment near the city. Like most people who live in an urban environment; I don’t have space to garden.  I do, however, have a small deck where I can grow some herbs and vegetables.   That was until the worst of the winter frost wiped out my healthy plants and any chance I had left at having one last harvest.  The unpredictable Pacific Northwest weather put a sudden halt to my deck gardening and as I’m anxiously waiting for spring to arrive so I can plant again, I recently designed an indoor garden using my fish tank I set up over a year ago.  I first bought my Betta fish because I had an empty aquarium I never used and I thought it would be relaxing to have a fish to take care of.  I soon discovered I didn’t like having a fish because I thought it was wasteful to dump water out to only have to fill it up again to clean the tank.  Now that spring is about to arrive, I regret not building my first indoor garden sooner because I can control my plant environment to grow food year-round, I don’t have to worry about the ever-changing weather patterns, and I don’t have to clean the fish tank any longer. (more…)

Our friends at the Woodinville Weekly just wrote this nice article about World Water Day being celebrated at 21 Acres:

March 11 — HaloSource, the global water technology company headquartered in Bothell, is partnering with 21 Acres, a sustainable living farm and education center in Woodinville, for World Water Day on Friday, March 21.

World Water Day raises awareness around water and energy issues to promote more sustainable and equitable choices. Water is essential to human existence and there are increasing demands on this finite resource.

Worldwide, 1.3 billion people currently live without electricity, 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people are without sanitation. (more…)

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The most fortunate thing happened at 21 Acres the other day!  We were lucky to have Jasmine Pulley visit, tour the farm market and walk the Back 18 on the most chilly and blustery day.  It turns out Jasmine is new to Washington state, she is an eastside resident and, she is an amazing professional photographer! Jasmine was inspired to attend our cooking class titled, Winter Feast, with Chefs Josh and Chris from Kitchen Table NW.  She just sent us her images from the evening and we find them so compelling that we have to share. We’re looking forward to getting to know Jasmine more, but her portfolio is extensive and she is very attuned to sustainable issues and building healthy, local food systems.  Our events staff were particularly excited to see her photos of gatherings of large groups of people — they really tell stories that we could relate to and the wedding images in particular are full of life.  Find a moment to see Jasmine’s images of the cooking class here If you’re in need of a perfect photographer, here’s Jasmine’s contact information:

We are pleased to have a guest blog post from Martha Baskin, a highly respected environmental reporter, covering critical issues that we care deeply about at 21 Acres.   You may have heard Martha as host of Green Acre Radio or read her recent article about GMO-free Cheerios which was picked up on the national level. The article she just wrote about oil-carrying rail cars and tanker ships is alarming.  Please read on….

I don’t think people are aware of the magnitude of fossil fuels headed our way via rail and tankers. On the rail side volume is expected to increase 8 fold when 9 new oil terminals become operational from Ferndale to Vancouver, WA. Currently 4 oil terminals are up and running. The trains will carry – as they do today but with less frequency – crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields, tar sands from Alberta and coal from Montana’s Powder Ridge Basin. What’s different than in decades past is volume — high powered extraction techniques – and intent. Fossil fuel companies are beginning to lose their domestic markets and are anxious to take up the slack with exports. There could be as many as 50 trains rolling through the region daily with 100 cars each and each filled with volatile crude. Given the horrific number of explosions, the volatility of the crude and unsafe rail cars not made to carry oil, it’s almost madness that neither the feds or the state are stepping in and saying “whoa”, slow down, you go too fast. At a minimum, per advocates quoted in my story, there should be a moratorium on all rail transport of fossil fuels until the cars are retrofit. (Some 80% are not.)  (more…)

There are two veteran organizations partnering with 21 Acres this year and we want to share both of their stories:

Growing Veterans will be introduced to the farm by helping out with a large wetland restoration and native planting project. The wetland work party will take place on March 1 starting at noon; this is just one project happening through Growing Veterans and we are looking forward to working on others in the coming months.  There will be a position opening up for a Growing Veterans 21 Acres Veterans Outpost Coordinator through The Mission Continues fellowship to oversee other veteran volunteers and to work on some special projects 20 hours/week starting later this year. (more…)

Kelly Linville, WSFMA President; Nancy Iscovitz, HumanLinks Foundation; and Caprice Teske, Bellingham Farmers Market
Kelly Linville, WSFMA President; Nancy Iscovitz, HumanLinks Foundation; and Caprice Teske, Bellingham Farmers Market talk about low interest loan program for farmers


21 Acres has benefited from the support of the HumanLinks Foundation and we’re excited about the organization’s continued work to support local farmers.  Recently, Nancy Iscovitz, Executive Director of HumanLinks and Robin Crowder, Marketing and Development Director of 21 Acres participated in two conferences, the Washington State Farmers Market Association’s Annual Meeting and Conference in Vancouver, Washington; and Tilth Producers of Washington’s Annual Conference in Yakima, Washington.  Together Robin and Nancy helped spread the word about the Foundation’s Low Interest Loan Program for Washington Farmers.  (more…)

21 Acres -- Chef Paola 21 Acres -- Classmates mincing andchopping

My New Year’s resolution this year was to eat healthier and to learn new skills. I took a cooking class at 21 Acres last week, The Italian Table II, which integrated both of my resolutions with a delicious outcome.

The instructor Paola recently moved from Italy to the United States, bringing with her a wealth of recipes and Italian traditions. The class was small and hands-on. All of the ingredients were local (except for the chocolate) and grown without chemicals (no pesticides or herbicides).  We sat at the counter, while Paola gave us instructions in mincing, chopping, whipping and folding, the musicality of her accent taking us away to the region of Emilia-Romagna, the gastronomical heart of Italy, where the recipes we were preparing (as well as our instructor) originated. (more…)

Stuffed Sourdough Bread

Do you know what you can do with Asako’s Sourdough Bread, Golden Glen Fresh Mozzarella and a knife?

Try this easy and delicious party favorite — stuffed bread — we’ve been enjoying it in the 21 Acres kitchen — perfect for the upcoming Superbowl Game!

Step one- Cut off the top 1/4 or so of the bread. Hollow out the sourdough with a bread knife. It becomes a delicious bowl

Step two- Placed diced cheese into the “bowl” and cover with bread lid

Step three- Wrap the sourdough cheese ball in foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until cheese is melted

Step four- Final step, open the lid and enjoy! Place on serving platter or dig in. You can use a knife to cut the bread or just pull it apart and dip!

— Sue

Honey extraction with Kurt and Brenda        Melting wax in honeycombIllustration of archingHoney extractorHoney being strainedHoney blue ribbon sign

The scent of melting wax and fragrant sweetness in our Farm Market last Friday announced the special arrival of fall honey from our beehives at 21 Acres to anyone who walked through the front door. Our beekeeper (and Principal Education Advisor) Kurt Sahl brought frames of honeycomb with beeswax and beautiful dark raw honey from the farm into the building where it could be separated and the honey extracted.  As a regular volunteer at 21 Acres, I agreed to pitch in and roll up my sleeves to help: Some work definitely needed to be accomplished before the honey was ready for consumption.




This past weekend, to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a group of students from the University of Washington Bothell campus came to 21 Acres to work through ways to effect positive change in food systems. They looked critically at: opportunities to help the campus improve food service, including how to source locally produced food; they examined GMO issues and how to be informed consumers; and they talked about farm workers and the importance of being aware of all people and components that are involved in getting food from the farm to the plate.  We’re very appreciative of the UW’s commitment to supporting students through their Annual Day of Service to honor MLK.  All of us at 21 Acres look forward to being an ongoing resource as the campus moves towards more sustainable food sourcing and a greater understanding of food justice issues.

After the GMO labeling legislation failed in Washington in November local coverage of the issue has dissipated.  Many people are asking us to describe the current status of the issue across the country. Here’s a brief summary of what we know:

Connecticut Voters approved the first GMO labeling law in the country when they went to the polls in 2013.

Connecticut’s law becomes effective only when four other states with at least 20 million people total population, and with at least one state bordering Connecticut, pass similar legislation.  (more…)

Happy New Year! Many of us at 21 Acres are tackling organization as part of our New Years resolutions for 2014.  If you too are feeling ambitious here’s an idea that my sister-in-law followed and she said it was very helpful to not feeling overwhelmed: Take 20 days to get organized, focusing on one area each day (see below).  She tried this a few months ago and recommended it to me.  I tried it and it really helped me feel like I had a workable plan.  Another idea you might want to consider is limiting unwanted solicitations, including emails and junk mail as well as telemarketing calls: Visit this website: to get off solicitors’ lists.

Here at 21 Acres we’re also offering three very affordable classes with professional organizer Laura Liest: 1) Right Sizing: Less Stuff=Less Stress; 2) Organizing Digital and Print Memories; and 3) Eliminate Paper and Information Chaos.    Read Laura’s bio below — she’s amazing — then register and join us for one or all of these classes.



Day 1     Computer desk

Day 2     Plastic container storage

Day 3     Linen closet

Day 4     Under kitchen sink

Day 5     Dresser drawers

Day 6     Kitchen pantry

Day 7     Coat closet

Day 8     Toy organization

Day 9     Laundry room

Day 10   Fridge and Freezer

Day 11   Spice cabinet

Day 12   Medicine and Vitamins

Day 13   Under bathroom sink

Day 14   Mail station

Day 15   Keepsakes

Day 16   Master closet

Day 17   Craft supplies

Day 18   Photos and kids artwork

Day 19   Garden/tool shed

Day 20   Then, consider tackling the car!

Bio: Laura Leist Laura is an award-winning entreprenur and self-described overachiever who has grown her company, Eliminate Chaos, from a one-woman show into a thriving business. She has written eight books, including her newest, Eliminate the Chaos at Work: 25 Techniques to Increase Productivity and best-selling Eliminate Chaos:  The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life.  Leist’s clients include CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations, paper- and system-fatigued law offices, high-profile authors, speakers, athletes, media personalities, solopreneurs, and divas of domesticity. Though her clients come from all walks of life and all fields, they share a universal need for help to escape the clutter, disorganization, and lack of productivity that steal valuable time from their lives and puts a crimp on their earning potential.

Many of us at 21 Acres are striving to reduce chemical exposure in our personal lives and have taken this on as a New Year’s resolution.  In our operations procedures at 21 Acres we strive to limit any use of chemicals or plastics in all of our activities, from cleaning to fixing to storing to packaging, we’re careful to use products that are gentle to the environment and to people’s health and well-being. Staff and volunteers are now taking some of these practices and using them in our homes.

The video, Unsafe: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals, is well worth a watch.  It’s not too long and is a helpful overview about the issues of toxic chemical exposure in our lives.  Experts make points such as: there are more than 13,000 chemicals in cosmetics and only 10 percent of those are tested before being readily sold to the public; Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical shown to cause breast cancer in animals, is used in food can linings and soft plastics (ie, food storage containers and baby toys), including packaging of snack foods; and the fact that flame retardants used on thousands of products, specifically those with foam padding such as upholstered furniture, is a point the video covers in detail.

Watch the video and let us know what you think.  We have a nice relationship with the experts at the Washington Toxics Coalition and they are a great resource we can tap if you have specific questions about also starting to live a more toxic-free life in the New Year.

— Robin

ChickenStocking Eggs in the Farm Market

Eggs are one of the most popular products from the 21 Acres Market and we often have a challenge keeping enough eggs in stock during the shortest days of the year.  Meghan Tenhoff not only works in our Farm Market but she is also the Seattle Chicken Sitter and shares her expertise in egg production and explains the seasonal shortage:

As the autumn light continues to fade the nights grow longer and colder all manner of life seems to slow.  Chickens are no exception. Hens raised in backyard flocks and on small farms in humane conditions slow and can all together stop egg production in the winter.  The typical production breed, egg-laying hen needs about 12 hours of light to stimulate enough hormones to lay one egg.  Even as the winter solstice has just passed, our days are still very short.  Another factor in reduced production is age.  The first two years of a hen’s life are the most egg productive. After that they slow and may only lay an egg every now and then even during the longest days of summer. Finally, from an evolutionary stand point, this lapse in laying gives the chicken body time to rest during the leanest foraging season.  

— Meghan Tenhoff, 21 Acres Market, also The Seattle Chicken Sitter

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Time flies. It’s already December and winter is rolling in. It feels like the 2013 farm season began only yesterday. The farm season officially ended at the end of November. The fields are all ready to hibernate for off season with winter cover crop planted; although a few crops remain in the field for the retail market’s winter harvest.  The farm season went very well overall, but we had some challenges. First of all, I’d like to thank Mary and Pepe for their hard work, and also our volunteer coordinator, Gretchen Johnson,  and all of the volunteers for their time and dedication. It was indeed the fruit of “teamwork” which led this season to our success. The farm operation made some noteworthy achievements this year including: (more…)

The New Year is shaping up to be a busy one with 21 new classes just posted to our calendar.  As part of these selections, 21 Acres is pleased to launch a new partnership with Everett Community College and Cascadia Community College to offer Beekeeping and Backyard Farming classes through their catalog.

According to Gretchen Garth, 21 Acres’ Board President, “Partnerships with organizations such as this one with the community colleges make sense as they foster collaboration and creativity and allow us to reach more people who may be interested in sustainable issues and to contribute to keeping our programming costs low.” (more…)

This morning we were pleased to receive this lovely email thanking us for the Holiday Treats Makeover Class held last weekend:

“I just wanted to thank you for allowing me to attend the holiday baking class at 21 Acres. The class was amazing! The instructor, Ellie, had so much knowledge about nutrition being that she had just earned her masters in nutrition at Bastyr University. The recipes that she created were surprisingly delicious, especially the blondies (a type of chocolate chip bar cookie) that substituted hazelnut butter (created in the food processor) and chickpeas for the butter and flour in the recipe. I exited the class feeling sated (with a belly full of warm cookies and some raw dough) and didn’t have the tired “let down” later or sugar cravings because I had eaten white flour and sugar. Elle peppered her demonstration with tips about beneficial spices and encouraged questions about baking and nutrition. This class was a special Christmas gift from you. The recipes will be treasured and practiced often. A heartfelt thank you, Rose Marie”

Katherine (7)

Our new local foods coordinator at 21 Acres, Katherine Ratliff, designed the Holiday Treats Makeover class and she has developed a new class series for 2014 with instructor Ellie Freeman, Eating for a Lifetime.  Click here for more details.

Green Giving Through 21 Acres

Start a new tradition of green giving this year and support 21 Acres simultaneously. Instead of worrying about just what gift to buy or whether or not whatever you’ve bought is in the right size or color, present a friend or family member with a special 21 Acres Membership, Engraved Paver or Gift Certificate.  They’ll be thrilled to receive such a thoughtful gift – and it will most assuredly fit.  (more…)

Photographer: Ed Sozinho; and Assistant: Tegra

To correspond with 21 Acres’ announcement about LEED Platinum certification we recently conducted a professional photoshoot at 21 Acres.  It was an amazing experience. We worked with Sozinho Imagery to capture 22 images of 21 Acres to help tell the story about our green-built campus. Ed Sozinho and his assistant Tegra were a pleasure to work with throughout the process.  From the preplanning months and weeks in advance to the actual day of the photoshoot and then during the followup editing and finalizing process everything went very smoothly.  Ed is an architect by training so that certainly helped us capture compelling images.  Plus, he was very good-natured and laughed a lot. (Important qualities in our mind.) We fed him and Tegra locally produced cheese, organic apples, pickled jalepenos from our farm and tried to fuel them with sustenance during the day.  The ultimate result is this collection of photos shared here.  If you have a minute or two and want to be inspired by some very special photography, visit Ed’s website,  You’ll see why we hired him and why he is a photographer for Patagonia and other well-respected brands.

— Robin Crowder


21Acres Achieves LEED Platinum21Acres Kitchen and Event Space


Photographs by Sozinho Imagery

All of us at 21 Acres are so pleased to announce today that we were awarded LEED ® Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the category of LEED for New Construction v2.2 rating system. Our 12,000 square foot building was awarded the highest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for its integration of innovative building and on-site systems.  (more…)

S'Tasty E-Book

All of us at 21 Acres extend our sincere congratulations to Vicky McDonald for publishing her very first e-book.  As some of you may know, Vicky has volunteered for 21 Acres this past year and given tirelessly of her time.  She helped us launch this 21 Acres’ blog and provided much creative energy and insight in areas related to communications.  Here’s the email Vicky sent letting us know about her accomplishment:

“I’m very excited to announce that I have my published my very first ebook. Wohoo! After blogging for over two years, I decided to release a short book of gluten-free recipes. I don’t cook gluten-free all the time, but I am always amazed at how popular my gluten-free recipes are, so I dedicated some time […] You may view the latest post at regards, S’tasty [email protected].”

Hip Hip Hooray!

Boy Scout bridge 2Boy scout bridgeOne of the favorite parts of my job at 21 Acres is that I get to be a “Community Connector” by being the point person for emails, phone calls and conversations from many individuals and entities in the community and getting those distributed to my colleagues to seek further information and make connections.   As a non-profit, we have been incredibly lucky to be the recipient of a unique community partnership/resource with some fine young men in local Boy Scout troops who are seeking to complete projects to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.  In my role as Connector I’ve worked with these boys and their very supportive families firsthand.  (more…)

Summer reading for blog

The topic of food has been in the news lately, especially regarding the transparency of food production methods. Initiative 522, which concerns the labeling of genetically modified food, has brought increasing awareness to Washington State consumers that there are differing opinions on agriculture production methods including about the severity of the impact of those practices on the health of humans and the environment.

The origin of our food and its journey to our plate is explored in author Anna Lappé’s book: Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis At The End of Your Fork And What You Can Do About It. I read this book this summer as part of our 21 Acres reading project and encourage you to do so too. Lappé focuses her attention on our industrial food system’s contribution to global warming by the very processes that grow, harvest and transport our food to the market. (more…)

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We are fogged in!  While fog has been incessantly stubborn here in lowlands, clear skies, sunshine and warm ve been hiking above the fog over the last few weekends so that I can enjoy blue skies and the sun.  I wish I could take all the crops with me so that they can soak up the sunshine, too.  (more…)

We have a year-round volunteer program at 21 Acres that provides opportunity for hands on work, creativity and flexibility and can fit with anyone’s schedules or specific interests. We work with volunteers who come to us in many different ways:  Whether customers come to the market for fresh eggs and produce and happen to wander back to the farm and see all that needs doing; or whether students find out about 21 Acres through a professor or people hear about the program from a friend or family member; we’re pleased to talk with anyone interested in the organization. (more…)

Quinoa-Farro Tabbouleh

Good morning from the kitchen!  There is a change in the air and I see it when I look out onto the Farm and see the changing colors on the trees.  It’s absolutely beautiful.

Last week was such a busy week I didn’t get a chance to send out a “hello” from the kitchen.  For three days last week we had tours from local schools and the kitchen was abuzz with the exciting chatter of elementary school kids as they cut tomatoes, grated cheese and prepared pizzas and salads for their lunch.  I happened to be chatting with one of the lads as he grated cheese and I prepared the food-to-go for the Market. He told me that if he had this kitchen he’d make pasta and chicken with a white wine sauce and mushrooms.  This sixth-grader made me excited for the culinary future.  These days kids are learning about sustainable food, farming, picking your own vegetables and preparing them.  The future definitely looks bright. (more…)

Tea and honey

As the weather illustrated last week, fall is here. It is apparent in the abundant orange pumpkins and golden squash in our market, as well as the shorter days and cooler nights.

A great way to chase the fall chill away is with a hot cup of tea. We have several varieties of local herbal tea from Harbor Herbalist in Gig Harbor:  A digest tea, a floral tea called “Indulge;” a nighttime blend called “Dream;” a blend called “Strength;” a “Nursing Mama” tea; and a blend called “Glow.”

To add a little sweetness to your tea, add 21 Acres’ summer harvest honey produced by bees  from on our farm.  Our bees busily pollinated our organically grown produce all summer long,  giving this honey a distinctly seasonal taste. Pick up a jar soon as we have a limited supply.

The perfect accompaniment to comforting tea is a gluten free cookie.  We have delicious flavors such as chocolate, snickerdoodle and ginger. If you like a little bread and butter with warm tea, try Asako’s plum hazelnut bread. Perfect for sandwiches or to accompany a soup is our country herb loaf made with an assortment of fresh herbs from our farm.  Both breads would be delicious spread with a soft cheese sprinkled with fresh herbs.

If the fall weather and these fall flavors are inspiring, remember the 21 Acres Market is open from Wednesday through Saturday each week.  We look forward to seeing you.

-Rose Marie

Mary driving pumpkins and squashFall bounty of gourdsSunflower field

What an amazing summer we had this year!  I heard we had an almost record-breaking number of consecutive dry days for a Seattle summer. As much as we enjoyed the warm temperatures and sunshine most of the crops in the fields did the same, and weeds, too. I must say this summer was one of those summers that we had to fight hard with weeding.  Lots of sweat, let me tell you.  Also, we had a mildew issue with some of the crops like onions this summer. Asking other farmers and sharing information, I gathered from other that we all agree this summer was more humid than normal, which caused certain problems such as the mildew attack.  Although we could save our onions without fail (timely detection and appropriate action taken), it’s the reality of farming…never predictable, never boring. (more…)

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

Happy Friday from the kitchen, Everyone!  It’s another beautiful Fall morning and the kitchen is abuzz with the sights, sounds and smells of today’s Market menu items being prepared.  Asako is busy as usual with making Apricot Sourdough, Orange Summer Squash Tarts (remember me talking about those bright, wonderful squashes a couple days ago?), and delightful cookies- a Farro Chocolate Chip and Einkorn and Grapeseed Flour Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie. The Grapeseed cookies are high in polyphenol which the doctors say you should drink a glass of red wine a day for.  If it’s too early for a glass of wine, grab a cookie to get your anti-oxidants! (more…)

Soup pots

Hello from the kitchen!  It’s been a real busy morning here.  We started at 5:30 am and have most everything prepped for tomorrow’s Market meals.  I came across some beautiful squash and thought it was time to whip up some Fall deliciousness.  After roasting and pureeing over 20lbs of these bright beauties (they look like pumpkins but are so much brighter and sweeter!), half of them are going into an Apple-Squash Spice Bisque and the other half will be going into some of Asako’s amazing tarts.  This time of year brings so many root vegetables and colorful peppers, our menu will be full of color and flavor.  Let’s see what kind of ideas tomorrowbrings! From the kitchen, have an amazing and beautiful Fall day!

— Sue

Seattle Times snip 2

We were so pleased to host writer, Rebekah Denn, from the Seattle Times at 21 Acres this summer.  Take a moment to read her article from today’s paper featuring Chef Emily:

Hammering letters low res hand engraving low res Sandblasting low res

We are looking forward to engraving a new set of pavers to be inlaid on the patio at 21 Acres this fall.  If you know of someone whom you’d like to honor, perhaps someone who is passionate about sustainable issues, you may want to consider ordering a paver.  We have a nice package we put together with eco-friendly giftwrap that makes a pretty presentation.  For specific details, follow this link to our website: 21 Acres Pavers.

— Robin

compost rush

A big thank you to Molbak’s for donating compost bags for our bioswale project! Native plants will be installed this week. In the month of July, the first phase of the bioswale project started. It’s the first stage of most environmental ejuvenation projects – removing invasive species and weeds.  It took many long hours in the hot summer sun with volunteer help from UW Bothell students and friends from the community. Thistle six feet tall and spreading over 30 feet wide has been removed and weekly weeding workshops have been ongoing to remove reoccurring weeds. Now that the reed-canary grass, thistle, and other weeds are practically gone, native sedges are spreading throughout the site. Slough sedge (Carex ubnupta) and Sawbeak sedge (Carex stipata) are flourishing where the old invasive plants and weeds used to be. It’s a wonderful site to see in the 21 Acres rain gardens!


At 21 Acres we often share articles with one another that we find interesting, inspiring or upsetting.  Some of the most intriguing pieces are found by Gretchen Garth, our board president; she just sent this one to us all and, as we are all consumers, I thought our blog followers might appreciate it as well.

The Luxury of Knowing
Maria’s Page, author Maria Rodale, Organic Gardening Magazine Vol. 60:6; page 72

What if you had infinite power to change the world for the better? What if I told you that you did? Would you believe it? Well, we are headed toward the holiday season, when stories of miracles abound, so bear with me while I explain how you can make the world better right now. All you have to do is believe and then act on that behalf. (more…)

Melon Salsa 2

Labor Day usually feels like the end of summer as children prepare to return to school. But here at 21 Acres, summer continues to be abundantly present in the bushels of organic sun-ripened tomatoes, zucchini, sweet corn, greens and herbs harvested from our farm and available in our market.

Don’t worry, you also still have time to enjoy juicy donut peaches, yellow peaches, blackberries and strawberries from Tonnamakers’ Family Farm and Garden Treasures, also available in our market. (more…)

It’s wonderful that so many people are interested in pursuing a career related to sustainable issues — men and women of all ages are letting us know of their interest in working in these fields.  I just answered an email from someone inquiring from the east coast and looking to move to Seattle: She is seeking advice about how to enter the field.  I thought I’d take a quick moment to share what I wrote to her as it might be helpful to others: (more…)

Tomatoes for blog

Have you ever wondered about the journey that your produce took to end up on your table? At 21 Acres you don’t have to wonder. The produce that is displayed in our market is fresh off the farm and sun ripened using organic and sustainable methods. You can taste the difference in the flavor and juiciness of each bite of and this is particularly true this time of year when tomatoes are in abundance. (more…)

Hazelnuts (1 of 1)

One of the many great local products we stock in the 21 Acres Market is hazelnuts from Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards. The Holmquist family produces locally grown hazelnuts, hazelnut oil, hazelnut flour and hazelnut butter in Lynden, Washington. Comparitively, Washington State is a small producer of hazelnuts, with Oregon producing the lion’s share of American hazelnuts.  Interestingly, most of the worlds hazelnuts are actually grown in Turkey – halfway around the globe. (more…)

Summer reading for blog

When I first glanced at Behind the Kitchen Door, a book written by Saru Jayaraman, I thought this was going to be an eye-opening experience for what employees do with food prep, serving, and other kitchen tasks that would be hidden to the customer.  I enjoy going out to eat just like the next person so it would be great to figure out the mystery of food practices in the restaurant that will essentially affect my enjoyment of food and my health.  I think consciously about where my food comes from and I ask a lot of questions of food service employees since I’ve seen so many food documentaries about the insanities of the food system and I want to make sure I’m being told the truth about fresh, local, or organic ingredients.  I also sometimes find it difficult to really trust the food system when American consumers can be presented with confusing marketing messages on menus and food labels using words such as ‘’natural” and “organically grown.”  Jayaraman talks about how restaurants advertise “slow food” which is organic, sustainable, and humanely grown, but it could just be a lie to get the customer to like what they are hearing/reading to buy that product.  (more…)

Cherry Valley Dairy Cheese

As an intern at 21 Acres, I am trying out some of the products in the Marketplace. This product captured my attention because it is exclusive to 21 Acres. Cherry Valley Dairy Reserve cheese is crafted by Cherry Valley Dairy in Duval. It is an artisan cheese that is rBST free and described as a “stirred curd Jack with hints of cheddar.” My taste buds expected the commercial jack cheese that is rubbery and tasteless. I wasn’t expecting the creamy, nutty flavor of this handcrafted wedge, which is coated in cracked black pepper and cocoa powder and wrapped in natural beeswax. This cheese is ideal for a picnic along the slough, or an outdoor evening concert, if you can make it out of the parking lot without consuming the entire wedge! (more…)

Tomatoes Tomatoes 2 Tomatoes 4CarrotsTomatoesFennel

Farm Update:  What a beautiful summer we are having!  I hope you are enjoying it.  We finally had a little thunderstorm shower in the valley yesterday after weeks of dry days in June/July….yesterday’s sprinkle was just a tease, not significant, though. I was going to write this farm update sooner, but other priorities came first. In farming plans are there to be changed. The farm season’s peak time is just beginning. July was an extremely busy month and lots happening.  Due to the warm and dry summer we are having, we’ve been irrigating crops in the field almost daily according to soil moisture, crop growth and timing of weeding and harvest.

The crop production is going well overall, but we just found out our Chipolini onions were affected by mildew.  There are also a couple of other farmers in the valley who are in the same boat….their onions were affected by mildew, too.  We did our research and analysis on “downy mildew” and investigated a possible cause and a solution.  In short, luckily we could save our Chipolini onions (bulbs). We also took a preventive measure for the other onions in the field just in case.  We made a solution with horsetail weeds and applied it to the onion tops. It is still too soon to assess the full scope of its effectiveness at this stage, but it seems it’s working.  Silica in horsetail works to kill/prevent mildew. Cross fingers.


We were pleased to recently host Sherri Wetherell from Foodista, Inc. Sherri is the developer of this hot blog that is receiving amazing traction nationally and is known for providing interesting, exciting, relevant and useful information related to food including news and events, details re food systems, food production, and many excellent recipes.  Our dedicated volunteer, Vicky Mc Donald, knew that Sherri lives here in the Northwest and extended an invitation to her to come tour 21 Acres.  Sherri is very busy, with a young child and has a demanding professional career related to the blog so it took a while to find a time when a visit could happen.  It was well worth the wait.  Sherri was delightful, knowledgeable and interested in learning anything and everything she could about 21 Acres.  She has just posted her blog about the visit here:  Needless to say, we’re quite happy about how well Sherri understands what is happening at 21 Acres.  Be sure to subscribe to the Foodista blog and perhaps you’ll see additional posts about 21 Acres in the future.

— Robin

I’m regularly reminded that it’s a small world out there, especially when I’m thinking about the people and organizations working to build strong local food economies across the country and structuring public health policies to support those systems.  Yesterday, at 21 Acres, Jane Mc Clure (our events manager) and I were fortunate to host Christopher Linaman, Executive Chef from Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, and Laura Rogers, Director, Human Health and Industrial Farming, and one of her colleagues from Pew Charitable Trusts as well as a pediatrician who advocates with Pew on public health policy initiatives (the three of them were visiting from Washington DC) and they were very interested to learn more about 21 Acres and our new Food Hub venture.

As the head of Overlake’s food service program, Chris purchases consistently each week from the 21 Acres Hub for the hospital and makes it a regular priority to source local food produced in a sustainable manner.  The Pew Charitable Trust is working on policy and education initiatives to address the rising prevalence of MRSA cases in hospitals and educates and supports chefs to prioritize buying sustainable products, particularly antibiotic-free meats.  As you may know, finally the public and health practioners are questioning the use of antibiotics in livestock for myriad reasons, most notable is the fact that it seems to be leading to antibiotic resistance in treating infectious disease in humans.  (more…)

Aquaponics photo at Growing Power

Perch is not just for eating! And if you ever visited the shores of Lake Michigan, you’d understand my surprise. I recently returned from a visit to my hometown and nearby Milwaukee, and along with snacking on cheese curds and enjoying a brandy old-fashioned with friends, a Friday night fish fry featuring fresh caught perch is always at the top of my ‘to do’ list. Farming and agriculture has been a big part of my life the last few years with my involvement at 21 Acres, so added to my list this visit was Will Allen’s Growing Power headquarters. Since it was just a ‘hop, skip and a jump’ from my  BFF’s house, I had to visit.  (more…)

Summer reading for blog

Many of the 21 Acres staff and volunteers were inspired this summer to each take a book from Food Tank’s list of “13 Books on the Food System That Could Save the Environment” and read it and share their thoughts on our blog.   Our brilliant and talented summer intern, Johanna Marsh Rayl, is the first to write a blog post and share it here.  If you too are so inspired follow this link:

In Foodopoly: The Battle over the Future of Food and Farming in America, Wenonah Hauter takes on the task of a researching, analyzing, and addressing the complex and deeply political American food industry.  I have long been aware of some of the corporate giants and notorious names; the monsters of the industry like Monsanto, Walmart, Pepsi, and Tyson.  What has come to strike me in the first hundred pages of Foodopoloy is that no longer are we dealing with many, strong corporate giants.  We are, in fact, looking at one super-monster of an industry where food company directors sit on other food company boards, financial institution boards, nonprofit boards, and in positions of political power, and where the vast majority of the food industry falls into the hands of a few giants with similar goals and political tactics.  (more…)

So, our new food hub driver/distributor/marketer Chelsea is on vacation so I’m doing the food hub deliveries this week.  I find that any time that I fill in as the driver, I am treated to heart-warming interactions with our farmers and our buyers.  Here are two situations from this week:

1.We received a last minute email from an owner of a Seattle hot new food truck.  She wanted to order lettuce through the hub from a farm in La Conner but didn’t know how many to order because she didn’t know how large the heads were.  She emailed me at 5 pm and we emailed the farmer who said she’d gladly run out to the field and snap a photo for the customer.  At 8 pm tonight we received a photo of gorgeous gigantic heads of lettuce – two to three times the size found from a typical commercial distributor or in a grocery store, bright green and exquisite.  Here’s what she just sent in an email, “They’re gorgeous! I’ll take 45 heads, we’ll use them for our pork belly wraps too. Yum! Thanks so so much for taking a pic and letting me order past closing for today. Can’t wait to put your name on my menu! I’ll put in an order through 21 acres right now.” (more…)

Elephant garlic

My first experience with elephant garlic was eating oven-roasted cloves that we smashed onto my Grandma’s homemade bread.  Talk about a taste explosion.  Accompanied by a blackberry shake and that is the stuff a happy childhood is made of.

John brought up the first harvest of elephant garlic from the 21 Acres Farm to the Market.  If you were one of the lucky few to buy the garlic scapes from these plants last month you have some idea of how big the heads are.  Actually a relative of the leek, elephant garlic is milder than traditional garlic and tastes great raw or cooked.  We are curing (drying for storage) some of the garlic out back and will be saving some of the cloves for planting this fall.  Most importantly, the green garlic is ready to go and in the Market now. (more…)

Erik and Matt at 6 amShane, Erik, Matt and ChelseaChelsea pausing a moment while loading truck

It was a very early start this morning to another exciting day for the 21 Acres Food Hub. Chelsea Gabrielle is our new driver/distributor/marketer for the hub: She met farmers, Mat and Erik from the newly formed Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative; Lucy Norris, Northwest Agriculture Business Center; and Shane Moss, Not Yet Foundation, at 6 am at 21 Acres, to load 200+ boxes of locally grown produce destined for home bound and fragile seniors in Seattle.

Here’s an excerpt from an email from Lucy that just arrived after the rendezvous at the hub:

“Congratulations to the Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative! This morning at 6:00 a.m. marked their inaugural delivery as a Co-op! SVFC is playing a key role in a privately funded project led by NABC, in partnership with City of Seattle Human Services Aging and Disability Div. and 21 Acres Food Hub to deliver fresh, organic produce bags to low-income, homebound seniors in King County this summer. This important program is launching a new farm business while increasing access to healthy food.” (more…)

Happy summer! As the spring was mild and warm as much as it could be, the summer has been glorious so far with beautiful weather. The heat wave hitting the region during the holiday week was incredible.  On the farm, most crops in the fields are loving the warm weather, but a lack of rainfall.  And you know what?  Weeds are loving the nice weather, too. In fact, this update may be all about weeds.

My nightmare has been weeds attacking me in my dream….not a joke. The month of June was relatively dry, which meant we had to irrigate the fields routinely. I had a chance to speak with a couple of farmers recently….one in the valley here and the other up in Bellingham…..believe me, we were all in the same boat during June.  Therefore, the week before Independence Day the rainstorm which brought significant moisture was good news and a lifesaver for many farmers.  Spring greens such as mustards, mizuna and komatsuna which prefer cool temperature have already bolted earlier than usual due to the warm weather.  (more…)

Farmer John just let us know that the farm team harvested fava beans and green beans (variety: Early Provider) for the market tomorrow.  It’s still a bit early so they’ll be in limited supply; be sure to come soon after the market opens at 1o am.  Fava beans are easy to prepare, very delicious and a great source of protein:  boil beans (in pods) in salted water for 6 minutes.  Drain and let cool for 15 minutes.  While beans are cooling, warm butter and sage leaves in a saucepan; cook for 5 minutes until you can smell the sage.  Squeeze cooled beans out of pods into bowl and toss with butter and fried sage.  Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Serve warm — yum!


The cheese making course held this May was a great success. It was a full class and we all got to take home some butter and cheese from the day. It was very hands on, and we all got to experience the cheese making process for ourselves. Chris Feller, our teacher was fun and informative. We started off by making a simple ricotta. We used beautiful organic milk from Fresh breeze organic dairy. The milk was divinely creamy and rich – prefect for fresh cheese. It was an interesting process making the ricotta, and we all got involved straining the curds and whey. We whipped up a huge batch in no time. (more…)


Now that the farming season is in full swing and summer is officially here, we’re pleased that the 21 Acres Farm Market will now be open 4 days a week.  We look forward to seeing you more.  Come shop: Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays from 11 am to 6 pm; and Saturdays from 10 am until 4 pm.  If you’d like to subscribe to the weekly Fresh Sheet which lists all produce and the delicious food-to-go from Chef Emily and her team in the 21 Acres Kitchen, send an email to: [email protected] Cheers!

21 Acres

The students from the Secondary Academy of Success (SAS) came for their biannual work venture at 21 Acres and boy were they productive.  According to Farmer John, “The field looks much better now after the SAS students big help. It was a short time, but, wow, that many people working together can achieve a lot in just a couple of hours!….an amazing result of teamwork and cooperation. Please extend the farm’s gratitude to the principal, students and teachers, and also the volunteers of 21 Acres for their help. I hope the students had a good time and learned something as well.”  (more…)

What a roller coaster weather we had in May! The weather was going from warm to cold, back and forth – warm like summer in late April and early May, and the last half of May was like back in fall, but overall it remained relatively mild temperature. On the farm we kept scrutinizing the skies often, wondering if the sun would show up, or clouds would bring rain drops.  “Do your best and see whatever may come” has been the motto in our field dictionary.  New volunteers are finally arriving, and everything is moving forward at full speed now. Timing is everything more than plans which may be changed anytime. (more…)

IMG_1271 - Copy

With all the headlines that we have read over the past 30 years regarding the link between heart disease and saturated fats, it is easy to associate items like cheese as a “bad” or “forbidden” food. The general message that was delivered by health care professionals in the 1980s and 1990s was that foods high in saturated fats (like cheese) should either be avoided, or consumed in their lower fat / no fat versions. While the research that links saturated fats and heart disease remains strong, the “vilification” of cheese that results is quite unfortunate. (more…)


Chopping vegetables is usually one of those boring tasks you have to do. However, once you learn how to chop vegetables correctly, you begin to get a certain satisfaction from doing it right. Good knife skills also make you a more efficient cook and your food will look and taste better.I went along to Barb Sowatsky’s Knife Skills course last Saturday at 21 Acres, and have been happily practicing my new chopping skills ever since. We were each presented with a block of Wusthof knives, all perfectly sharpened. (more…)

We are already half way through spring, and summer solstice is just a month ahead! The unusually sunny and warm weather we had was such a treat no doubt, but in the field we experienced both pros and cons as a result of that. Most of the plants took up on the nice weather for their advantage while some got confused. The warm weather boosted the growth of many plants, and helped drying out parts of the wetland (Field 3), but crops like broccolini and some of the spring greens which prefer cool temperature got upset a little and started flowering(bolting). In addition, we needed to water some crops as early as the first week of May this time. (more…)

Spring is here! The 2013 farm season has just begun. There are still puddles of water here and there in the fields, but the sunny spring weather has been helping the wet areas drying out fast. May is often a tricky month, though; it’s like a roller coaster….cold/warm, wet/dry, rain/sun…back and forth, back and forth. A little confusing, I must say. Hence, we continue to monitor our plants and the field conditions carefully. The greenhouse is filled with vibrant seedlings, and we have been transplanting quite a bit of spring crops out in the field….lettuce, kale, collards, broccoli, cabbage, beans, peas, bok choy, and herbs/flowers. Radishes, carrots and beets are also in. Mary, Pepe and I are all hard at work, getting ready for another productive year of the farm season. I have already noticed a sign of “abundance” just looking at seedlings….they are growing much better than this time of last year. (more…)

(Written by Gretchen Garth, President, HumanLinks Foundation and 21 Acres founder. Submitted as an Op-Ed 2010)

As the economy slowly turns out of a steep dive and the nation is guided into a sustainable recovery, consumers can further define what our economic future could be by adding thought into each item we purchase.

Whether it’s toothpaste or clothing, how and where it was manufactured, processed and grown makes a difference. In essence, you’re casting your vote one dollar at a time for the company whose product you purchase adding to their revenues. If you look into a product further, by reading the label or where the item was made, you’re also looking more closely at the company itself, its policies and whether or not through their processes they’re practicing values that you may or may not support.

Some values are pretty self-evident. One new term, described as the triple bottom line, is being taught in MBA courses. This goes beyond the first tier or traditional bottom line: profit and takes into account things like: fair wages; diversity in hiring; no sweat shops; a clean, safe working environment etc… This second tier is sometimes called social justice.

The third tier to the triple bottom line reflects on the environment, taking into account our impact through what and how a company uses our natural resources and also what they leave behind. The triple bottom line is the beginning of how we measure our true costs of each purchase, something that is not talked about much. What are the real costs? How do we account for them?

General measurements have come into play – like organic, green, renewable; new words to help identify values being defined in our new lexicon. Energy Star, VOC-free paint, natural, BHst free milk, recycled and petroleum-based also describe how some things are made with eventual effects on living organisms. This is being calculated into individual consumer decisions. Food miles, emissions, carbon footprint, emphasis on local, are all beginning to play a bigger part in how and what we buy effectively changing our buying decisions into a values oriented system approach. These values then begin to influence buying decisions.

It gets even more personal. Because of things like 9/11 and the current economic upheaval, many things don’t seem so certain. Instinct tells us to trend toward lean, but instinct also tells us to look deeper into what we do every day. So, personally, I started to pay more attention to the products that we use. I read the label to check out if the shampoo lists paraben; started buying local food at the farmers markets; wondered if deodorants made with aluminum might have harmful health effects. As a result, I’ve started paying attention to the companies that produce these products because I want to support ethical business practices.

Acknowledging your personal values with every dollar you spend has already begun to influence the economy. Paper, furniture, home remodel projects, office supplies, stocking your kitchen, garden supplies, technology and automobiles. Every time you make a purchase, you’re casting your vote for a company and how they produce a product. Shareholders have influence on the future direction of a company and you can too, by what you purchase, one dollar at a time.

About HumanLinks Foundation: 
HumanLinks Foundation was established in 1999 to help Washington State communities make systemic improvements in education, health care and sustainable agriculture. HumanLinks strives to strengthen voices and connections to make these essential systems more effective and responsible.
HumanLinks Foundation