Tani Creek Farm
Parent Category: Growing
Created on Wednesday, 16 July 2008 21:29
Written by Nancy Fortner
The Tani Creek trio of Max, Amber and Jonah is changing the face of farming on Bainbridge Island. Not only are they fresh-faced young people who have taken up the passion of growing food on our fair isle not known for fostering young farmers, they practice a method of land stewardship that goes way beyond the term organic.
Tani Creek Farm's beautiful produce, after starting from raw ground only last year, is testimony to not only the hard work of double digging all the beds but to the sustainable and regenerative aspects of the farming style they practice. The three met in Eugene and each of them interned at different farms in Oregon, where they were exposed to the concepts of biodynamic farming. All report learning biodynamic principles not in school, but from the mentoring they received from the farmers they worked with. The philosophy of biodynamic farming utilizes a full circle approach that puts back what is taken from the land, planting by the zodiac calendar, and taking cues from nature for nourishing the soil and creating a lush, complimentary growing environment without the use of pesticides.
Max’s parents provide the land on the south end of the island, where the three live and work alongside Max’s parents and brothers. In a very short time Max, his family and Amber and Jonah have created a self sustaining landscape, with ponds that capture the runoff from other areas, including the house roof; pond water is then used for irrigation. There are neat double-dug rows of raised beds and several hoop houses for heat loving crops like tomatoes. The outlying areas are fruit and nut orchards of baby trees, growing amidst companion plants of beneficial weeds and flowers. They make several biodynamic natural potions from animal parts, herbs and minerals to provide the supportive biota which is then sprayed onto the fields and plants and used to inoculate compost heaps. I saw several hand tools probably known to other farmers but not on display in the usual nurseries that make double digging by hand easier than with just a shovel.
The produce coming from this place is absolutely gorgeous, and the soil reports from last year to this year show more than a hundred percent increase in soil nutrients. These young people have an obvious wealth of knowledge not shared by most of us gardeners, yet they humbly profess to be learning with experience, and credit mentors with giving them the tools to begin.
The scene is one of collaboration. The three are soft-spoken, with ready smiles, and seem to embody the concept of living simply with the earth. Their work ethic combined with their philosophy of living and farming give me inspiration, and a renewed hope that they along with others like them could actually reverse the downward trajectory of food quality created from decades of gigantic farms, monocultures and pesticide use. I would love others, especially youngsters, to take notice and learn from them. I want them to feel supported and nurtured by this community as much as they in turn nurture it with the love and effort they give to the land and the bounty they pull from it. It sounds sappy, especially coming from someone old enough to be their grandmother, but I actually feel peace and a little bit of joy when I think about these kids, their quiet contributions, and their potential for bringing about good change.
Find the Tani Creek Trio at the Bainbridge market on Saturday mornings, and watch for their produce at the Sound Food Ferry Farm Stand. They also occasionally sell excess produce to Central Market.