Our Volunteers Are Our Success. Volunteer at the Co-op!

The Seattle Farm Co-op is run by member-owners like you and me! We’ve added more open hours and would love some help with assisting customers, pricing, stocking, cleaning, unloading deliveries, and taking inventory.  Volunteering is a fun way to learn more about your Co-op, meet other members, share knowledge and talk urban farming. There’s always more than enough to do and we can’t do it all without your help!

We’d especially like to get a few people trained for regularly scheduled sales shifts so we can open the doors for business every day of the week and stay open longer each day. Even one three hour shift per month is a huge help, whether it’s working with our wonderful warehouse manager, or running your own shift (either alone or with a friend!) With each shift, you’ll earn a discount coupon for 18% off your already discounted member price for any one item. Working 9 hours per month will get you a coupon for an additional 18% off one entire shopping trip!

Please email volunteer@seattlefarmcoop.com if you’re interested and as always, let us know if you have any questions.

Happy Farming!

Bear Soap Is Stocked At The Co-op!


Lindsey raises rabbits and chickens for meat and eggs, breeds quail and worm composts on 1/4 acre of rented property in Kent, WA – most of which is also cultivated into vegetable and fruit beds, (which her landlord will learn to love!) Bear Soap, Lindsey’s soap company, specializes in handmade soaps using the finest oils and butters as well as organic herbs and botanicals from her garden. Find her Suburban Homesteading adventures at www.NWBackyardVeggies.com and her full line of soaps in her ETSY shop.

Hello, everyone! Lindsey here from Bear Soap letting everyone know that the Seattle Farm Co-op has been restocked with some fabulous soapy additions. Feelin’ dirty? Get on down there and get yer suds on.

As is my style, every soap is different and this time I’m quite happy to have a wide range of scents and types of soap for Co-op members to choose from. Here’s a sample of what’s available.

Herbal Bar

Herbal Bar – patchouli, ylang – ylang and eucalyptus

Basil, Sage and Mint

Basil, Sage and Mint

The Soothe Bar

The Soothe Bar

Citrus and Beer

Citrus and Beer

Soap sells quick, but don’t worry. I’m always around for special orders or to replenish what’s been sold! My soap is made with a strong olive oil base with other oils such as rice bran, coconut or castor oils added in. Sometimes I add cocoa butter or shea butter. Other times – beeswax. I use all natural colorants such as madder root or parsley powder. All the additional herbs or flowers come from my garden or a local source. Each soap is labeled with it’s unique ingredients and each bar is only $5.00. As always, if you have any questions about the soap, don’t hesitate to visit my website or check out my ETSY shop for more soap information.


~ Lindsey, Bear Soap and www.NWBackyardVeggies.com





‘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 manager@seattlefarmcoop.com 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 http://earthsystemsnw.com/calculator.html. 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
Water Tanks.com
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.

‘Building Potato Cages’ by Lindsey Nickell


Lindsey raises rabbits and chickens for meat and eggs, breeds quail and worm composts on 1/4 acre of rented property in Kent, WA – most of which is also cultivated into vegetable and fruit beds, (which her landlord will learn to love!) Bear Soap, Lindsey’s soap company, specializes in handmade soaps using the finest oils and butters as well as organic herbs and botanicals from her garden. Find her Suburban Homesteading adventures at www.NWBackyardVeggies.com and her full line of soaps in her ETSY shop.

** This is a dual post on NW Backyard Veggies and The Seattle Farm Co Op Blog**


For those of you new to my blog, I am now trying to grow vegetables and meat rabbits/chickens and egg laying hens on 1/4 acre of rented land in South King County. It’s not easy. I came from a home I owned, which means I could basically make the big backyard anything I wanted it to be (a salute and an apology to the new tenants for that one. I’m afraid they’ll be stepping in chicken poop for a while…) And because I am living on a rental property, there is a limit to how much space I can dig up. As in – I have no more beds to dig up and my two constructed raised beds are already planned for planting.

So what’s a girl to do when she wants to grow potatoes where there is no land to dig them into?

Build potato cages! Oh, yes. You know how much I loves me some construction.

But first, as aside about the availability of seed potatoes in the South Sound where I live. I spent the weekend trying to find seed potatoes! Nursery’s, big box stores, small feed stores – nothing. I have since gone to Sky Nursery and found oodles and oodles of potatoes but when I first started writing this post nary a seed potato was to be found anywhere close to me. (Of course, the Seattle Farm Co Op has seed potatoes, because they are awesome. As yet another stunning reason to become a member!) So where, pray tell, did I find these potatoes?

A mom and pop hardware store in Maple Valley called Johnsons nestled in between the chainsaws (drool) and the pink plastic pots (no drool). AND they were organic. What?!? Awesome.

So I picked up some USDA organic red potatoes and a new variety that I haven’t even heard of called red silk rose potatoes. The tag says “slightly pinkish fleshy potato – good keeper, prolific and hearty.” Yeah, okay. Sold. Get into my canvas NPR tote bag and come home with me!

I picked up some wide gauge wire fencing at my brother’s move and knew just what to do with it – cut it in half length wise and build two cages out of it.

So, I did. Here we go.

Made a conical shape and joined them with (surprise) zip ties.

I save all my soil and feed bags, so here I used 4 paper feed bags, cut so that they were long. These will line the sides of the cages to keep the straw and soil and potatoes in.


Lined the side of the cage with the bags, turned inside out, and put a feed bag on the bottom to guard against  wire worms and other criminal varmints who want to eat my potatoes.

Then a layer of compost from my upright composters and the seed potatoes.

Over the potatoes, I put some soil down to cover them, and then an inch layer of straw – to insulate and keep them moist after watering.

Organic Red Potatoes in one cage and Organic Red Silk Rose Potatoes in the other. I cut the big red ones in half and planted each half with the sprouting eye up.

As the potatoes start growing and sending up greenery, I will keep filling in with layers of soil, good rotted compost and straw. Like a potato cage lasagna. As the season progresses, my hope is that the organic material will meld together and when I am done harvesting potatoes, I can just take the contents of the cage and spread it on other beds or add the soil to my ever expanding series of pots.

Last year, my harvest was riddled with holes left by wire worms. And although I finally had a successful year planting potatoes, half of them were pock marked and run through. Picture Lindsey as a very unhappy camper. So this year, I’ve been forced by neccesity and sheer lack of space to get creative with towers.

Tanya over at Lovely Greens has done the same thing this year with her potatoes and her cages are taller then mine but the idea is the same.

So, now, wonderful people of the interwebs – If you are growing potatoes this year, what are you growing them in? Ground, towers, raised beds? Potatoes by St. Patricks day! Did you succeed? (I sure didn’t…)

~Lindsey @ NW Backyard Veggies and Seattle Farm Co Op Member

‘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 DigginShoreline.org

Annual Members Meeting & Election!

Calling all Co-op member-owners! Join us on Sunday, December 8 for:
– a potluck meal together
– a brief history of our co-op
– a financial year review and a look ahead
– our first ever board election
Time: 5:00pm-8:00pm
Location: Rainier Valley Cultural Center (RVCC) in Columbia City near Rainier Avenue South, at 3515 South Alaska Street.  The RVCC is within 1 block of three King County Metro bus stops, and just 3 blocks from the Columbia City Link Light rail station on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  Parking is available in the RVCC lot, on the street, and at the Department of Services for the Blind at 3411 South Alaska Street.

We’re looking forward to seeing you and your family at this year’s annual meeting.  Details about the election and online voting have been sent to members via email.  Members will also be able to vote at the membership meeting. If you have any questions, send us an email at info@seattlefarmcoop.com.