Author Archives: Nikoel Stevens

A Chicken Coop Co-op! by Priya Diaz


Priya Marita Diaz has lived in Seattle since 2008 and is co-chair of Seattle’s Progressive Co-op Preschool and board director of ACIT Seattle, a non-profit tabla drumming music institute. Priya has a background in social justice, music and education. Priya grew up in the Santa Cruz mountains of California where chickens and organic gardening were part of her childhood. Her interests beyond urban farming include yoga, theater, canning, making music, building community and spending time with family.

A chicken coop Co-op! Sharing chickens with my neighbor.

In February, my friend Tara and I decided to share chickens! I live in an apartment where pets are not allowed, and Tara has a big neglected back yard. Actually it all started with the idea to co-op her front yard into a shared food garden between our two families. The chickens were an idea inspired by the idea of having farm fresh eggs, outdoor pets for the kids (and adults) to enjoy, and a need for compost as well. So we decided to get some fluffy baby chickens at Seattle Farm Co-op on March 15th. We went to the very informative free Chicken Coop Workshop and our free Chicks 101 class, took notes, and started making plans for our coop.

Sharing chickens so far has been great, we have been taking turns babysitting as we prepare their outdoor chicken hotel. I wonder if more people will start sharing chickens in the city- when you consider that each chicken, once laying, provides one egg per day, keeping chickens gives one family more eggs than needed! Plus we can take chicken care shifts if one family is on vacation, share in feeding, maintenance and cleaning duties. Plus it’s an excuse to get the kids and families together for a chicken coop building barbeque!

Tara and I met through the preschool that our kids attend, Seattle Progressive Co-op Preschool, so I guess you can say we are into co-ops. I think that more and more people are finding out the advantages of working in co-op with each other, whether its a preschool, a farm store, or a shared yard or chicken coop. I think its a great way to create community, share skills and grow our own fresh local food, all the while teaching our kids to be more connected to what they eat. Not to mention all those fresh organic eggs that they will be finding in the nest boxes soon…

photoIssiah & chicksAsher & chickcropped-SFC-half-arrow_Header.jpgChild holding chick

‘Chicks! Chicks! Chicks!’ by Nikoel Stevens

Nikoel Stevens is an urban farmer in Rainier Valley and the current Board Member at Seattle Farm Co-op. She hosts weekend warehouse hours once a month and coordinates the blog posts for this website! She raises Nigerian Dwarf goats and maintains a flock of chickens with her husband. She works at a national ISP and dreams of owning a small dairy farm somewhere in Western Washington.

Chicks! Chicks! Chicks!

Last year, my husband and I got our very first chicks! We originally ordered four, a gold-sex link, a Plymouth barred rock, a brown leghorn and an Americauna also known as Easter Egger (ours lays green eggs). We got to the Co-op around 10 in the morning on a Saturday and found the lot already buzzing with excited soon-to-be chick parents. There was a quick class on basic chick care and management taught by one of the Co-op founders, Charmaine Slaven. We learned about what all brooding entails, when to put the girls outside and deciding on an end-of-life plan.

The latter was a little hard to fathom when we hadn’t even met our new friends, but an extremely important thing to consider before it’s too late. We knew we wanted to at least learn how to humanely cull a chicken in case of severe illness or raccoon incident, just so we wouldn’t be caught without the knowledge in hand if there came a sudden need to put one of our gals out of their misery. As an animal lover, I couldn’t stand the thought of a suffering animal while also recognizing that these were outdoor livestock for us, not indoor pets like our dogs and cat are. Everyone I’ve met has varying ideas and feelings on this subject and there’s no one right or wrong way, but it’s something every responsible animal keeper needs to consider ahead of time.

Okay, now that the serious stuff is out of the way, we can head back to chick day! After Chicks 101, we headed over to the bedding barn (you members will know it as the barn where we keep the pine shavings) and Gretchen Siegrist (who is now my fellow board member) handed me a Born shoebox with my name and the type of birds we ordered written on them, then we got into the payment line. As an active Co-op volunteer, I’d already picked up everything I needed for the first several weeks of chick care. We already had 3 adult hens, so we had the pine shavings to line the giant 50 gallon plastic tote we’d picked up at the hardware store. We were going to keep the chicks downstairs in the storage area off the laundry room in the basement, but we really wanted to be able to check on them regularly so we set them up in our pantry off of the kitchen! It was kind of ridiculous considering just how dusty it got in there, but we really enjoyed checking in on our little gals several times daily. We had to do a little extra cleaning and it was totally worth it.

Aside from the tote and the shavings, we’d purchased a brooder light, a thermometer, a chick-sized waterer, feeder, chick grit and the chick starter feed made by Washington’s own organic livestock feed producer, Scratch N Peck. I’d picked that all up from the Co-op over multiple weeks of working at the warehouse, but you can also get everything except the feed in one of the brooder kits we sell and the best part is it’s partially refundable if brought back in clean condition! It’s not recommended that the tote we kit all the goods in be used to brood chicks beyond the first week, but it’s a great place to start. The only extra items I needed to get were four small bricks from the hardware store to put the water and feeder on because the chicks will kick the shavings into them on the regular. The last thing was a dowel we put in for them to roost on, but that wasn’t until they were around 3-4 weeks old. It’s pretty darn cute watching them practice on it!

So we got our four little puffballs home that afternoon, named them all after some of our favorite television characters (in the tradition we’d already named all of our other chickens, including the accidental roosters) when I got an email from Christy letting everyone know there were still a few chicks left! We technically had room for one more since we knew the little bantam roo who had adopted us the previous Thanksgiving would have to find a new home before we put the little ones outside. Husband and I looked at each other with excited eyes and I drove on back to the Co-op to get one of the little leftovers. I scooped up a little Rhode Island Red since our very first hen and also our favorite was a Rhodie. I got her home quickly and put her in with her new sisters. Five little different colored fluffy babies! So much peeping! We were in love.

As the weeks went by, they grew at an alarming rate and their personalities began to emerge. Two of them were far braver than the others. They’d let us carry them around the kitchen and even sit on our shoulders. Sometimes, we’d find one on the floor of the pantry peeping her little head off because she couldn’t figure out how to get back up into the brooder. Often we’d put the chick back in only to find her out again an hour later. So precocious!

As they days got warmer, the chicks had finally converted all of their downy softness for shiny, stiff big girl feathers and we knew it was time to start the outside transition. We found a home for Fawkes the tiny roo once he’d started crowing and harassing our three hens. We started out by putting the chicks into a medium wire dog kennel and placing it in the grass away from where the big girls go. They were less than pleased with it, to say the least. They huddled, they peeped, they ran from our hands, we took them back inside. Until tomorrow. It took about a week of days of us taking them out to the sunny grass, opening the door and letting them explore the contained yard fully supervised before they really started enjoying it.

After a few days of this, we finally took them out to the coop. We kicked the big girls out and locked the little girls inside, letting them explore, setting them up on the roosts and showing them the nesting boxes. That night we let the big girls back in by setting them on the upper roost where they were happy to stay. We helped some of the little girls onto the lower roost, but they didn’t all comply so we just let them sort it out. The next day, we let them all out and kept watch to make sure the little girls weren’t getting picked on too badly and had places to hide. They pretty much just ran out of the way of the big girls and everyone was just fine! I know this isn’t exactly the recommended way, but it worked for us. Next time we get chicks, I hope to have more sophisticated digs with separate areas or a nice tractor, but I think the real key was waiting until we had enough time to be able to properly supervise.

I wish we were getting more chicks this year so we could do it all over again, but we’ve already got 8 hens who are all laying, so we’ll have to wait until we rotate the older gals out. In the meantime, I’ll be working at our annual chick sale, running the register and will hold a chick or two before my shift starts, washing my hands after of course! I hope to meet some of you there!

On to the pic spam!


‘Canning Adventures’ by Kari Kesler

Canning Adventures
By Kari Kesler

kari kesler
Kari Kesler is a Texas transplant who has been living in Seattle this time since 2000. She, her partner and their 5 children live in White Center, where they raise chickens, make soap, attempt to grow a garden, and make great use of other people’s fruit trees. She loves to cook and is always up for a new food adventure.

I have been trying my hand at canning these past few years. Like many people, I started with pickles. I thought about trying my hand at jams and jellies, but haven’t yet. I started with these items, like others, because they can be canned in the simpler (and less scary) hot water bath canning method, as opposed to the pressure canning method. The problem, though, as I see it, is that I only really need so many pickles, and my family doesn’t eat much jam. I was interested in canning as a way to more affordably offer my family organic, local, healthy foods. If all I was canning were essentially novelty items, it seemed to me that I was practicing a hobby more than realizing my goal. I assumed this meant I would need to venture into the world of pressure canning, but I had not yet decided to learn those skills and sort out the buying or sharing of the equipment required.

This all led to a discussion with a friend and fellow farm co-op member. She had been concerned about eating commercially canned foods because of exposure to the BPA that lines the insides of commercial aluminum cans. When we thought about what we eat most often out of cans, we realized that we eat more canned tomato products than anything else. Tomatoes can be canned using the hot water bath method, so we decided that would be our summer project. For a price comparison, we looked in the stores for an organic tomato sauce in a BPA free jar. We found only one brand, which I can no longer find. At the time, a 32 ounce can of the store bought sauce was just over $3. This would be the price point we were shooting for. We needed to find an affordable source of organic tomatoes and canning jars, and we needed to located BPA free canning lids.

I thought at first that my only option for BPA free lids would be the reusable plastic lids. I didn’t like the idea of plastic, although I did like that they were reusable. They are also more expensive, of course. It turns out, however, that Ball’s canning lids are now BPA free. It just requires that you look closely at the date they were manufactured to ensure you are not buying older lids. I found this blog post to be very helpful. Finding affordable jars was much easier. The Co-op has them for a great price, as do many other retailers. I purchased regular mouth quart jars for $1 a piece (with the BPA free lids).

Next the hunt for affordable organic tomatoes. Even in a bulk buy, I could not seem to find organic Romas for less than $2-$3 a pound. Although this is certainly a fair price to pay for organic tomatoes, it was more than I could afford to pay, especially on an ongoing basis. I started looking for a U-pick farm, and didn’t have much luck. There weren’t many U-Picks that offered tomatoes! I did eventually find Kruger Pepper Gardens in Wapato, Washington (just outside of Yakima). Since I had planned to take my kids to Yakima for a summer trip anyway, it was a great match. U-Pick Roma tomatoes were 69 cents a pound, a price that was much more reasonable for me. I will certainly be back next year, as they have a great variety of affordably priced organic U-Pick produce. If you decide to go, learn from my mistake and go on Sunday – they are closed every Saturday.

Finally, we were ready to can our tomatoes! We followed the recipe and guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), with one notable exception; every tomato sauce recipe out there tells you to skin and seed your tomatoes. That is a lot of work, and I hate to lose all the nutrients and fiber in the seeds and skin. I had recently splurged and bought a long coveted Vitamix for my kitchen. Because the Vitamix is such a powerful blender, I was able to sauce the whole tomato, and did not have to do an skinning or seeding. This sped my process up considerably, allowed for healthier sauce, and allowed me to stretch my tomatoes much further. Based on the figures from the NCHFP I should only have been able to can about 15 quarts. Instead, I canned 26 quarts of thick sauce from my 100 pounds of tomatoes.

We have been using our sauce in chili, as a base for enchilada sauce and in soups. It is delicious and we feel so good about eating it. Success!!

kari-canned tomatoes

‘Volunteering’ by Fynn Aesery


Fynn grew up on a seven acre ranch in the High Desert of California with chickens, horses, dogs, cats, and a quirky collection of other critters. He spent most of his formative years working with animals large and small, which translated first into working at an animal shelter, then into an ‘official’ pet services business. With Salty Dog Pet Services, Fynn was fortunate enough to spend over a decade making friends with Seattle’s coolest cats and dogs. Salty Dog orange is worn mostly in retirement though, as Fynn’s focus has turned to three loves: the Seattle Farm Co-op, the lost railroads of Washington, and the beautiful Okanogan Highlands. When he’s not managing the warehouse at the Co-op, he’s probably scheming with his partner over plans for their 20 acres in the northeast corner of the state.


Nine years ago, I started spending most of my spare time (it wasn’t even really officially volunteering then) at Homeward Pet Adoption Center out in Woodinville. I was going through a rough patch, so hanging out with the dogs and cats waiting to find their new families was definitely therapeutic. In the beginning, I didn’t really want to interact with the public – for three years prior, I’d suffered from agoraphobia.

The next few years were groundbreaking; volunteering pulled me from my shell. I was hired on as an adoption counselor/receptionist, and eventually became the executive assistant. When I saw the trend of pets being surrendered because their people couldn’t give them enough time during the day, I decided to expand on my many years as an unofficial critter sitter and open a pet services business that offered excellent service at a budget price.

Salty Dog changed my life and gave me a way to support myself without working for anyone else. I’ve met (and said goodbye to) many amazing animals over the years and I’ve forged relationships with clients that will likely be lifelong. Though I consider myself nearly-retired (I still have two clients), I will always wear the uniforms proudly (and blindingly on chilly days…).

The impact of six months at the Co-op, which I affectionately call ‘the coop’ to my friends and loved ones, has been equally as profound. I have found a home within a like-minded group; we might not always share the same opinions (fine by me), but we have a common motivation. I have never met a more diverse, different, and eclectic group in my thirty four years and I’m loving every minute of my time with SFC.

In this half-year, I have bonded with a volunteer who hails from a locale just as small and only next door to my hometown. I’ve learned how much work the Board and the founding members put into getting the Co-op running – and how many sacrifices many members are still making so that SFC will continue to see success. There are also the open hours volunteers, who dedicate part or most of a post-work weekday evening or much-deserved weekend day to ensure more access for shoppers. Without our open hours volunteers, including those who cheerfully run the warehouse so I can get all of the ‘other stuff’ done in the office, I would be lost. And then there is our beloved volunteer volunteer coordinator…my friend, there are no words!

This doesn’t even cover EVERY volunteer who gives time to our beloved Co-op. I can’t forget those who run inventory and do the counts (and give me wonderful gloves), put on culling classes, ‘man’ booths at festivals, wrangle and pull off the Chick Sale, or tirelessly pound the pavement with our fliers. Let’s consider the behind-the-scenes help, who are willing to remain stuck in front of a computer building databases, maintaining our website (or the server/internet access supporting it), and generally keeping things running smoothly with the tedious jobs of ordering, bookkeeping, and receiving.

Do you have a few hours out of your day to spend down at the Co-op? If you’re not comfortable running the computer or helping customers, I’ve got a list of projects that could really use some attention. Honestly, they’re the sort of tasks that are my favorites, but I just don’t have the time. Just promise not to growl at anyone like I was liable to do during my antisocial years.

Even if you only have one day out of the month to give up, you will be continuing (and supporting) the work that our Board and founding members have put in to get us where we are today. If you’ll pardon the pun, until I started at the Co-op, I didn’t know the true meaning of cooperation. I want to harness this energy and watch us thrive and see great heights in the next decade and beyond.

Please consider emailing me at if you would be interested in volunteering on one of my shifts, whether you’re new or haven’t worked at the warehouse in a while. Don’t forget, volunteering can get you 18% off coupons!

‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Broody’ by Nikoel Stevens

Nikoel Stevens is an urban farmer in Rainier Valley and the current Volunteer Coordinator at Seattle Farm Co-op. She regularly hosts weekend warehouse hours and is often on hand to coordinate volunteers and buck straw bales during deliveries. She raises Nigerian Dwarf goats and maintains a flock of chickens with her husband. She works at a national ISP and dreams of owning a small dairy farm somewhere in Western Washington.


There are many blog articles about dealing with a broody hen and now I’ve finally had my own experience with my Buff Orpington, Buffy (the Insect Slayer). A few days ago, she started making these weird dinosaur sounds and fluffing up her neck feathers. I didn’t know what was going on, so I just laughed at it and continued on my with my farming chores. The next morning she was making the weird noises again but otherwise acting normal, going after the scratch I threw for her and her sisters, walking around, not going into the nesting box.

When I came home from work, I found her sitting on the nest. My husband texted to ask if we got any eggs today and I replied that I didn’t know because Buffy was on the nest. He responded that she’d been on the next since noon, it was nearly 6pm so I got her up outta there and found one of her eggs. She got me once pretty good on the back of my hand before I realized I should probably grab her by the neck and scoop my other hand under her. So touchy!

The following day she was on the nest again. I knew what I needed to do, but didn’t have the resources just yet so I let her be. I had to get a wire bottomed cage, also known succinctly enough in the chicken community as a “broody cage”. Not all hens go broody and some breeds do it more often than others, but not all hens of that breed will. From what I’ve learned, the hen’s hormones are causing her to run hot, which is heat she needs to hatch out a clutch of fertilized eggs so in order to break her out of the spell that is broodiness she has to be kept from getting comfortable and nesting while providing airflow beneath her. Now, you’d think they would only do this if a rooster was around to actually fertilize some eggs, but no. Apparently, they will go broody at any ole time, even when there’s not a single egg to sit on! I don’t know if you were aware of this, but chickens aren’t all that bright.

I borrowed a cage from the co-op, set it up on the floor of the chicken coop as it was too heavy to hang, but it came with a deep pan that the cage could sit on top of so she couldn’t just lie down on the floor of the coop. Two and a half days later, she was back to her usual no-personality self, pooping on my porch and clucking like a normal chicken rather than a creepy, fluffy velociraptor. Now if she’ll just get back to laying eggs!


Update: 8 days after she broke from her broody trance, she laid an egg! Huzzah!

‘Cisterns 101’ by Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a local restoration ecologist and native plant botanist known locally in her neighborhood as the “chicken lady” because of the tractor on her front lawn that everyone comes to visit. She has maximized her tiny Seattle lot with gardens and chickens and bees (both honey and mason) and fruit (she just aded Himalayan banana, pomegranate, tea plant, and Gojii berries)



I came into the decision to buy a cistern one fine summer day a couple of years ago after opening my Seattle utilities bill and seeing how much watering the gardens was costing me. It was a small fortune and meant that all the veggies and flowers I was growing on my small property were costing me as much or more than buying them at the store, which was way too much, and so opposite of my intent of growing them in the first place! Plus I have the added issue that I let my chickens free roam the back yard and every few days I have to walk around and squirt the chick poo into the grass so we can walk around barefoot. It makes for a lovely lawn but a ridiculously high water bill.

So, right about that time I happened to click on some blog somewhere that talked about greywater and rainwater collection systems. Technically greywater systems are not allowed in Seattle. I tried hooking up my washing machine drain to go outside and water the rose garden but the lint kept clogging the hose so that was a bust. Oh sure, I had rain barrels on all my downspouts but frankly at about 50 gallons each, it was almost a joke how little time they lasted and once the rains stopped they remained empty for most of the summer. Seems like they are full when I didn’t need the water in the spring (when it was raining all the time) and dry when I did- It was all very unsatisfying!

In steps Nicola Davidson of Earth Systems NW….
I was short of cash but high on enthusiasm and Nicola came to give me an estimate for a real cistern rainfall system. She did the calculations and my roof generates 35,000 gallons of rainwater a year! Who knew? Calculate how much water YOUR roof generates at Do you know how many chicken poos that will water into the grass alone!!! I was in. My first decision was above or below the ground, the next how much water I could store. I did not want to bury the tanks as my property was already set up with fences and gardens and the coop that is semi-permanent so it was above ground for me. Still, I had to deal with having a very small and already maximized Seattle Lot, so I walked around and found 2 spots in the back and one in the front where I could stash a largish tank.

Polyethylene! Upon researching the different materials that tanks are made from- it was clear that polyethylene is the way to go. It develops a biofilm on the inside that protects from any potential off-gassing and it is relatively UV safe and supposedly lasts for at least 20 years. Sediment sinks to the bottom and the outlet is at the bottom so it is always flushing itself. I went online to see what tanks looked like and what sizes were available. I found 2 tanks on sale that would fit the two spaces in the back yard with my raised bed vegie gardens (850 gallons and 550 gallons) so I was all set. I figured if they both only filled up once per season they would pay themselves off in 5 years (installation included). With filling up multiple times a season it will pay itself off much quicker. Frankly, after last summer and all the rain we had I am now at paying it off in 3.5 years.

So how did the costs break down? Well, Nicola charged me $1500 to 1) prepare both pads that the tanks sat on (a layer of sand, a layer of gravel, and pavers) replumb all my downspouts on the backyard side of the house, quite an extensive system that included remounting my gutters so they drained in the right direction and 3) plumbing in overflow spouts for when the tanks fill (and they do). Plus adding in the brass ball valve and outlet. All ready to screw on a hose. I already had screens on my gutters. That would have been necessary if I didn’t already have those.


You ask about water pressure. Well, when the tanks are full it is not an issue. With that much head the water gushes out and I found a awesome attachment at the Puyallup fair that gives me pretty high velocity. Enough to squirt those chicken poos right into the grass so they are invisible and to wash the deck in the back. It is not enough to run a sprinkler however, which would be nice. The smaller tank I use a water wand that works great for the veggies. When both tanks get low (less than ¼ full) the pressure is lousy. This is not a problem if you are into the whole Zen of watering and have lots of time, but that is not me. I want to water quickly and be done with it. This is where the adding a small pump comes in. Nicola sells different systems but again, with the economy, I have been pretty broke so I did research on my own. I found out there are two options- submersible pumps that fit inside the tank or external pumps that are less expensive and not as powerful. But this spring, after 3 years of the slow watering regime, I had had it. So, a couple of weeks ago I Googled “Cistern Pumps” and found an external pump that came highly recommended that was on sale for $50. It arrived and works great. It took 5 minutes to hook up. I have an outlet outside the back door right next to my 850 gallon cistern and I just have to mount pump onto the deck, but, Now it takes no longer to water than with the regular city water system and there is enough pressure to run my sprinkler system that I have set up in my raised beds. YAHOO. I do need to install an on-off switch because I have to plug the pump in each time I use it, but that is another project.

My next project is getting a cistern in the front yard where I have my flower beds. Nicola has a design for a trellis and bladder system (called a water fence) that I can hide behind some siding so it looks like a continuation of my house and doesn’t fill my frontage with a huge plastic tanks. For the pad I have it will give me 1200 gallons of water storage. That will be a bit more spendy so that is a project for down the line, but one I am sure I will do it. In the meantime, I did install a greywater system from my upstairs tub and sink and I still have 2 downspouts from the front half of the roof that fill up each time it rains, so I generate 100 gallons every rainfall and the greywater tank keeps filling so long as my kid and I shower.

Time to sign off. It is raining again and I smile knowing not only is the garden getting watered but the cisterns are filling at the same time!
Yours in Free-water
Sarah Spear Cooke

550 gallon tank hidden behind the kiwis

Web Links

Cistern suppliers
US Plastic Corp
Oasis Design Company
National Tank Outlet
Northern Tool + Equiptment
The Tank Depot

Cistern Installers
Nikola Davidson at Earth Systems NW

Cistern Pumps
US Plastic Corp

Biofilms and Rainwater Harvesting
Craig A. Evans1, Peter J. Coombes, R. Hugh Dunstan, Tracey Harrison, Anthony Martin, Kathryn Pigott, Jacquelyn N. Harris. Coliforms, biofilms, microbial diversity and the quality of roof-harvested rainwater
Spinks, Anthony T1; Coombes, P2; Dunstan, RH3; Kuczera, G4. Water Quality.
Treatment Processes in Domestic Rainwater Harvesting Systems in : Water Quality Treatment Processes in Domestic Rainwater Harvesting Systems.
Namrata Pathak & Han Heijnen. Rainwater Harvesting and Health Aspects-
Working on WHO guidance.
Rasima Abdul Rasid, Rakmi Abdul Rahman, Rasina Abdul Rasid. 2009. Biofilm and Multimedia Filtration for Rainwater Treatment. Journal of sustainable Development. Vol 2, No 1.
The Cabell Brand Center. 2007. Virginia Rainwater harvesting Manual

Hay & Straw

Hay & Straw!
Here at SFC, sourcing quality hay & straw for our urban farming community is a priority.

You’ll be glad to know that our orchard grass hay is Certified Organic by WSDA, and is locally grown by farmer, Jordon Nailon, near Rochester, WA. This hay is perfect for forming the basis of nutrition & fiber for goats, rabbits, guinea pigs, sheep, and other herbivores you might be raising. I currently feed it to my dairy goats and rabbits, and all consume this hay with gusto! It’s green, smells wonderful, and is put up right. We’re carefully storing these on pallets in a dark dry shed to prevent mold growth, sunbleaching, and help preserve nutritional value. Would also be suitable for hay bale gardening.

We also are stocking rye straw. We will only source organic or unsprayed products.We will not sell any straw or hay that has been sprayed with chemicals that can end up affecting germination, killing or contaminating plants our gardens. We’ve been satisfied with this straw so far, and will always try to have a certified organic straw producer. We’ve found it challenging to
find certified organic straw, because most organic grain growers till their straw back into their own soil to build the tilth in their fields, rather than bale it for sale when there is limited demand for
organic straw.

‘Chicken Culling Class’ by Nikoel Stevens

Nikoel Stevens is an urban farmer in Rainier Valley and the current Volunteer Coordinator at Seattle Farm Co-op. She regularly hosts weekend warehouse hours and is often on hand to coordinate volunteers and buck straw bales during deliveries. She raises Nigerian Dwarf goats and maintains a flock of chickens with her husband. She works at a national ISP and dreams of owning a small dairy farm somewhere in Western Washington.


My husband and I attended our first culling class today and learned some really useful skills and incredible information. Charmaine is immensely knowledgeable about poultry anatomy (as well as various other animals). She has a very laid-back and calming manner about her, which was much appreciated as I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was feeling a bit squeamish and nervous.

I didn’t bring a bird and all the people who did seemed to want to do their own processing, so I just watched, pulled some feathers, and helped a little with clean up. There was a 6 month old rooster, a 13 month old rooster, a tiny bantam rooster with feathered feet, two ducks and a 4 year old Rhode Island Red hen. Each one was truly as humane as it could be for something that you eat. Each bird was calmed by using compression, pinning the wings down and holding the bird against your chest, and by petting the head and neck. The cuts were deft and the knife recently sharpened so the birds very likely felt nothing at all. It really was quite peaceful and the mood reverent. I’ll refrain from waxing poetic, but I’ll admit to feeling a slight sadness that was tempered with knowing that these animals lived truly delightful lives, especially when compared to their factory-farmed counterparts.


A History of Locally Produced Food in Shoreline

This article is from our friends over at Diggin’ Shoreline.


Morten Anderson Strawberry Farm, 1910 (Richmond Beach), Photo #SHM 1615 courtesy of Shoreline Historical Museum

From the Native Americans who first inhabited the Shoreline area, to the pioneers who settled here in the late 19th century, to the urban farming movement of the 21st century, locally produced food has played an important role throughout the history of Shoreline, Washington. The berry farms, dairies, and chicken ranches of the early 20th century, the depression era “survival gardens” and wartime “victory gardens,” and the community gardens and farmers markets of today have all helped connect Shoreline residents to at least some of the sources of their food.

For the purposes of this article, “Shoreline” is used to describe what is now the City of Shoreline, but may also include parts of what is now the City of Lake Forest Park (LFP). Although “Shoreline” is used in the description of historical events throughout this article, much of the history described herein occurred before this area was actually known as “Shoreline.” For reference, Shoreline’s modern day neighborhood names have been included (in parentheses) throughout this article, although some of these neighborhood names were established after the historical events described. The term “garden” is used in this article to describe food gardens, as opposed to flower or other types of gardens.

Read the full story at