Chick Sale! Sold out 2/19/16

Every year we have a spring chick sale and 2016 won’t be different. We have ordered Black Sex Links, Gold Sex Links, Buff Orpingtons, Silver-Laced Wyandottes, Easter Eggers, and Black Australorps. We recently added some White Plymouth Rock, Brown Leghorns and Runner Ducks to the order but as of this morning (1/21/16) the ducklings are sold out!  The sale will be in March, but you must pre-order by February 16th right HERE.

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Chickens are flock animals – That’s why we require you purchase a MINIMUM ORDER of 3 chicks. The City of Seattle allows backyard flocks of up to 8 birds – NO roosters.

We buy our best estimate of the number of chicks of each breeds that we will sell. Chicks are reserved on a first come first served basis.ORDER EARLY right HERE to insure that you get the breed of your choice.

A chick class is REQUIRED … unless you have had chickens before – or take a SEATTLE TILTH or similar class. The Co-op will offer a FREE class. – dates to be announced

The hatchery tries very hard to accurately “sex” the chicks and are 90% accurate. So, though we’d love to say there will be no roosters, you may get a rooster UNLESS you order Gold Sex Link or Black Sex Link chicks where 99.9% of the hatch are hens.

Chicks are immunized – We have chosen to sell chicks immunized against Mareck’s disease, a virulent contagious killer of chicks and chickens.

Up-cycling Traditions

By Rachel Cardone

I think it started because my father hated Halloween. He was a teacher, it was the seventies, and we lived in rural Long Island. Our house got egged and toilet papered. So, my mother would make all of our costumes, put candy in a bowl outside, and while we were out he would turn out all the lights and sit in a back room, reading. Then, three weeks later, Halloween candy devoured, we would look forward to the arrival of the Thanksgiving Turkey.

You may think I’m talking about the bird. I’m talking about the Turkey. You know, the one who shows up about an hour after peak food coma, alerting you to his presence with a sound not unlike a football hitting a roof. Who hides bags of candy for good kids – outside if the weather’s nice, inside if it’s raining or snowing. No?

As an adult, I can imagine the confusion caused when guests participated with us, or when we’d talk about the Turkey at school on Monday. What amazes me to this day is nobody – nobody – ever told us we were idiots. Nobody told us it wasn’t real. Everybody sort of shrugged, as if to say, “Well, if that’s your tradition …”

As we got older, the Turkey went from real to quaint to a joke we never quite understood. Once I left for college in Ann Arbor, I didn’t really celebrate Thanksgiving. Traveling home was too expensive, and in my early 20s piety, the holiday reeked of American gluttony. Then more excuses: I became urban, and it was too much effort to get home. My concerns were not their concerns. My politics and religion and work and life choices were different enough to make the day feel like an obligation to be backed out of, if I could find a good enough excuse.

I didn’t start enjoying the holiday again until my thirties, when, as a newlywed, our neighbors invited my husband and me over for “pre-Thanksgiving dinner with people we like”. Food, gratitude, laughter, and community became the new tradition. And Thanksgiving became my most favorite holiday of the year.

The essence of Thanksgiving it to create a harvest dinner, and create space to express gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, no matter how easy or hard the year has been. It captures the essence of being human: what’s more human than sharing a meal? And it accommodates all heritages and cultures that contribute to the American experience. As a kid, we ate an Italian antipasto with cured meats, cheeses, olives and pickled vegetables at ours. My husband’s family had hummus and labneh at theirs. We’ve had salmon out here in Seattle. I’m sure you have a special side dish or main that takes you right back to simpler times, and new tweaked recipes that keep you present. We bring our diversity and personal style to a tradition that creates space to reflect on who we are as families, communities of individuals, and as a nation, if we let it. It can be a beautiful thing.

Last year, my dear Uncle Tommy died on Thanksgiving Day. Strangely enough, on Thanksgiving Day two years ago, my beloved Uncle Vincent passed. The holiday has evolved from a day of food and candy, to a day of gratitude, to a day of remembrance. And yet…

A few weeks ago, tired of telling Halloween stories to my nearly 5 and 3 year old daughters, I started to tell the story of the Turkey. As a joke, really. As an, isn’t Grandpa super silly, sort of story. But they keep asking me to tell it, over and over. They wonder if the Turkey will leave candy for them. They wonder if they’ve been good enough. I don’t like that framing, so I’m evolving the story to be more about gratitude and love. I’ve pulled in elements of sweet and bitter, borrowing from Jewish New Year traditions, to reflect the aspiration that gratitude be a constant in our lives, across our highs and lows. And I think I can get behind the Turkey visiting our house this year, moving him from a joke to something magical and real. And with that, an old family tradition has been renewed for the next generation.

Calling for Board of Directors Candidates

Hello fellow SFC members,

We (the SFC board) would like to remind all of you that our second board election will be occurring this fall. Any member can opt to run for a seat on the Board of Directors and we’d like to encourage you to consider contributing your skills to the continued growth of our cooperative community. (Click here for an application.) There are 4 seats open for election this year and the deadline for applications is November 8th. Voting will open the following week and close in early December. Please send applications to the Board at steering@seattlefarmcoop.com by November 8th and a current Board member will confirm receipt of your application.  We would love to see a larger turnout of people interested in serving and guiding the development of this community.

The details: Of course, we ask that you become or are already a member of the Co-Op if you choose to run for the Board of Directors. We also encourage you to attend at least one (if not a couple) board meetings in the interim. Doing so will give you a better idea of how the board works, the time commitment involved and the opportunities we have available for your skills. Not to mention you’ll have all the other board members in one room to grill with any questions! Our board meets twice a month and each board member takes on a separate special project of their choosing to lead.

Thanks to all of you for being members of this thriving community. Even if you aren’t able to consider becoming a part of our Board, the Co-op has a ton of areas in which we could use your help. If you are interested in becoming involved, contact us!

Details from SFC 2014 Annual Members Meeting

Dear Co-op Members,

The Co-op Annual Members Meeting was held October 12, 2014. This was a pivotal meeting for our future as a co-op. As part of the membership meeting a working group was established to determine the feasibility of various scenarios outlined in the minutes. This feasibility analysis is work that will be done between now and January 31st to inform the Board on whether the co-op should remain open for business, and if so, what that would look like. If you could not make it to the meeting, and are interested in being part of this feasibility working group, please send email to steering@seattlefarmcoop.com. This group will be meeting from 6:30 to 8 pm on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of November and December. If you want to be involved in the feasibility analysis but cannot make it to these meetings, please let send us an email and we can add you to a newly-created Google email group that receives announcements from this working group.

In concert with volunteerism for the feasibility working group, we are actively recruiting members to apply for upcoming Board elections. We are looking to increase our board from 6 to 7 members and will have 4 open positions this fall, with the new 2-year terms starting January 1st, 2015. If you are interested in running we ask that you attend 1 or 2 Board meetings to familiarize yourself with how we operate and make sure this will be a good fit. Applications for Board members and a description of the position will be posted here soon.

For more details, click here to view meeting minutes for the SFC 2014 Annual Member Meeting.

Sincerely,

Seattle Farm Co-op Board

Closing of Warehouse and Re-evaluation of Retail Sales

A Letter to Our Member-Owners

The Seattle Farm Co-op Board would like to update its members and retail customers on recent decisions made regarding the retail operations of the Co-op. At this time the Board has decided to close full retail operations of the Seattle Farm Co-op while we assess the feasibility of continued operations and continue to look for a permanent location. The board has established a deadline of January 31st for a go/no go decision for continued retail operations of the Co-op with the option to move forward sooner at Board discretion.

We would also like to emphasize that this hiatus of retail sales will be a busy time for the board who will be weighing the different options and models suggested by our membership for continued operations. Membership support, volunteer contributions and the willingness of new board members to step forward for the upcoming elections will weigh heavily in our evaluations. Please step forward to contribute in any way that you can if your desire is to see the Co-op continue and flourish.

For more details about the future of the Co-op and how you can help, click here to view meeting minutes from the SFC 2014 Annual Member Meeting.

Thank you,
The Seattle Farm Co-op Board of Directors

Help Us Create Our Future

Our Seattle Farm Co-op retail and warehouse space on South Jackson Street has been sold and exhaustive searching has not yet resulted in a new home so, sadly, retail operations of the SFC are suspended for the time being.

We are so grateful to our member-owners and all our customers for supporting the SFC feed and seed store.  We still need your support during this hiatus.  We’re all needed to participate in the discussion and to volunteer to do the work needed to sustain our Co-op.  You can help us in a number of very important ways:

1. Consider serving on the SFC Board of Directors for the next term beginning in January 2015.  Elections are coming up soon!  Any member can run for a seat on the Board of Directors and we’d like to encourage you to consider contributing your skills to the continued growth of our cooperative community.  (Click here for an application.) There are 4 seats open for election this year and the deadline for applications is November 8th.  Voting will open the following week and close in early December.  Please send applications to the Board at steering@seattlefarmcoop.com by November 8th and a current Board member will confirm receipt of your application.

Requirements: You must be an existing Co-op member, or become a member, if you choose to run for a seat on the Board of directors.  Additionally, you should attend one or two Board meetings between now and elections so you have a realistic idea of how the Board works and the time commitment involved.  This will be a good opportunity to ask questions, as well.

2. Volunteer as an “Interim Director” and work with the current board of directors between now and the January elections.  This is a great way to determine if board membership is right for you while providing much needed help to the Co-op.

3. Join the SFC Feasibility Study Group.  This group of volunteers will be digging up valuable information that will be used to determine feasibility of future retail operations for the Co-op, as discussed at the Annual Member Meeting on October 12th. (Click here to view meeting minutes from the SFC 2014 Annual Member Meeting.)

4. Attend a Board meeting.  Any member is invited to attend Board meetings.  It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your Co-op.  In addition to the roles mentioned above, we have other tasks that members can take on which will contribute to the future success of the Co-op in meaningful ways. The Board of Directors meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6:30pm in SE Seattle.  The next meeting is Tuesday, November 4th.  If you’d like to attend, please RSVP in advance by sending an email to steering@seattlefarmcoop.com so we can send you location directions and so we know how many to expect. 

For more information on anything related to the Co-op, please send email to info@seattlefarmcoop.com.

Thank you,
The Seattle Farm Co-op Board of Directors

We urgently need your help in finding a new home for the Seattle Farm Coop

STILL SEARCHING FOR WAREHOUSE SPACE – NEED YOUR HELP !

Dear Members and Friends of the Seattle Farm Co-op,

As you may know, our current landlord will be developing the property into a condominium project, which poses a logistical issue for our farm co-op — where will we go next? The co-op board is continuing to ask for your help in finding our next space. The board has been actively looking but we’ve not yet been successful. Rents are high and word of mouth will probably be our best bet.

A short list of estimated specifications (revised) can be found below. Additional details are included on the publicly shared Google document here.

Many thanks for your help and support,
Seattle Farm Co-op Board of Directors

Target Location: Easy access to freeways (I-90/I-5). We prefer to be within the city limits but are open to areas close to Seattle City limits.

Budget: $1000 to $2500

Desired Space: We need between 1500 and 4000 SF (more if it fits within the budget!) but are flexible about the configuration. Zoning must be commercial.

Interior Building/Warehouse: We need indoor space but can also be creative with outdoor space, as we’ve been at our current location. Garage door access or loading docks required, as well as a bathroom and some office/meeting space.

Exterior Warehouse Space & Lot: Customer parking, loading/delivery space, and a space to store straw and hay are necessities.

A Chicken Coop Co-op! by Priya Diaz

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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…

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‘Chicks! Chicks! Chicks!’ by Nikoel Stevens

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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!

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‘Canning Adventures’ by Kari Kesler

Canning Adventures
By Kari Kesler

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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!!

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