Published August 13, 2012
Soundings: Berry bonanza is in full swing in East OlympiaJOHN DODGE
We’re in a rut these days at Horsefeathers Farm, but we’re in no hurry to get out of it.
Every night after work, we can’t wait to get home to change into our gardening clothes. We grab some plastic containers out of a kitchen drawer and head outside – to pick berries.This year, late July and early August have been berry bonanza time at our East Olympia spread. This week’s nightly bounty has included blueberries, wild blackberries from the overgrown, wooded back pasture, marion berries and the final set of ripe raspberries. In my 10 years here, never have I seen so many berries ripe at the same time. The two marion berry plants just west of the main garden plot are producing at a record pace, probably because I cut down two small trees that used to keep them in the shade an inordinate amount of time. The wild blackberries are sprouting up in new places, left to grow wild now that there are no horses living at the farm. Sure, the berries are tiny and elusive and guarded by prickly brambles. But it’s a Zen-like experience to stand still and turn your gaze into a tangle of vegetation in search of these sweet, little gems. Find one ripe berry and you’ll find more. Add the production of second-year raspberry plants and a bumper crop of blueberries and our berry containers are overflowing in no time at all. We flash freeze most of the blueberries, then store them in freezer bags, leaving a couple of handfuls for fresh eating in the morning. The other three berry varieties are commingled, then sprinkled over the top of some frozen yogurt for a dessert that never grows old. Can you eat too many berries? I guess we’ll find out. Early August is that time of the year when the garden is paying nightly dividends. The cool-weather crops – think lettuce, beets, Swiss chard, peas and broccoli – are converging with the mid- and late-summer crops – think green beans, tomatoes, potatoes and zucchini. Most of the labor-intensive work that goes into the garden is in the rearview mirror. August is a time of year when the vegetables outperform the weeds and slugs. It’s when the cool, wet and frustrating days of spring are a distant memory. The dahlias are in bloom, the corn is approaching 6 feet tall, and the space between the row crops is engulfed by the plants themselves. A garden in August is kind of like a teenage child, testing the boundaries, taking flight, and changing size and shape with each passing day. In the next stretch of hot weather, much of the lettuce will bolt. Soon it will be time to uproot those cool-weather crops from spring and replace them with cool-weather crops for the fall. But before that time comes, the essence of summer will linger in the air, and the garden will give much more than it receives. TASTE OF THE MARKET IS SOON The 13th annual Taste of the Market, a major fundraiser to support Olympia Farmers Market capital improvements and scholarships, is just around the corner – 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the market. Sponsored by the Friends of the Olympia Farmers Market, this evening of fine food and drink, raffle prizes and assorted giveaways has raised more than $275,000 through the years to fund market projects. The covered seating area in front of the stage, the sound system, security cameras, a commercial kitchen and more were all made possible by the efforts of the market friends and their many supporters. The Friends of Olympia Farmers Market has also contributed more than $100,000 toward the Robert J. Meyer Scholarship Fund, which for seven years has helped full-time college students from farming families to study organic farming at one of the state universities. The Taste of the Market usually sells out, so now is a good time to get your tickets. They are $60 in advance and can be purchased at the Friends of the Market Stall No. 73 at the market or at www.farmers-market.org. BREW FEST From his office at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Mike Marohn has a bird’s-eye view of the Port of Olympia Plaza. He’s also a beer enthusiast who has attended probably 20 brew festivals around the country. Put the two together and you have the birth of the inaugural Olympia Brew Fest, set for noon-10 p.m. Saturday in – you guessed it – the Port Plaza. The celebration will feature more than 30 Pacific Northwest breweries serving up 60 varieties of beer to go with the food vendors and live music. A $25 ticket – $30 at the door – buys you six tastes and a souvenir cup. Designated drivers pay $5 at the door. As expected, all attendees must be 21 or older. Proceeds from the event will support small-business development through the Thurston County Small Business Incubator Program. For more information and to order tickets, go to www.olybrewfest.com.