By Liz Pleasant

Helmut Sassenfeld, scientist turned rare duck and goose breeder, has a passion for genetic diversity. The former pharmaceutical biochemist now runs Tani Creek Waterfowl Organic Farm and Hatchery, which boasts the largest collection of rare heritage breed ducks and geese in Washington.

Although Helmut dedicates most of his days to farming (raising his animals from "cradle to grave" as he says), his mission extends far beyond making a living as a farmer or just contributing to Bainbridge Island's local food movement.

"I don't need to keep this many birds to make money from meat. A lot of it is preserving genetic diversity," explains Helmut. "I have a whole history of being that way. I'm kind of a nerdy scientist at heart."

Helmut typically tends his farm by himself, except for when an occasional "burst of activity" calls for additional hands. Because of the size of his operation, Tani Creek produces only about 200 ducks and geese a year. The birds roam across Helmut's rolling grassy farmland overlooking Puget Sound guarded by electric fencing to ward off any coyotes or raccoons that might wonder up in the night.

After a look around it doesn't take an experienced farmer, or a nerdy scientist for that matter, to notice the diversity at Tani Creek Farm. Walking down the farm's dirt path you'll see many types of waterfowl, all different shapes, sizes, and colors.

"What our agriculture tends to do these days is hone in on the one breed that beats everybody else," says Helumt. "And then all of the sudden there's nothing left but that one breed, and then you loose all this genetic diversity."

By breeding and butchering rare ducks and geese Helmut hopes to show people the value in farming different breeds, from both an ecological and a culinary standpoint. Many of the birds that he raises have become almost nonexistent within the world of modern American farming. "I just like variety," he explains. "If people would just realize that if everything doesn't look the same it doesn't mean it's bad. It just means it's different."

It's easy to forget that the food we find normal isn't necessarily more natural to eat than anything else. Each boneless skinless chicken breast looks identical to the next because that's how our food system works. The meat at your local grocery store or favorite restaurant is often a direct result of large-scale farming taking an animal that can be raised cheaply and easily and multiplying it by the thousands. By raising breeds that have been forgotten by modern farming, Helmut hopes to reinstate the value in having a diverse diet and food system.

Helmut sells his eggs and meat to a few local restaurants, including Hitchcock on Bainbridge and Local 360 in downtown Seattle. Also, if you visit his website you can buy raw meat or eggs to prepare at home. Tani Creek also sells live birds for those with the appropriate amount of land and interest in raising waterfowl themselves.

A fair warning for out-of-towners: Helmut only ships his meat within Washington. And those interested in taking home live animals need to make the trip to his Bainbridge Island farm to pick them up. Ironically, what started out as a tactic to avoid different shipping regulations between states has evolved into one of Helmut's favorite things about his business.

"Shipping is very impersonal," says Helmut. "One really cool thing about selling the eggs and the birds on Bainbridge is that I meet people face- to-face. I love that. It's a big part of the job, and I'm realizing it's actually one of the most fun parts."

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Women In Brewing

Contributed by Liz Pleasant

Spinnikar Bay Brewing, located in Seattle's Hillman City neighborhood, is Washington's only 100% women-owned brewery. Up until recently, owners Janet Spindler and Elissa Pryor also made a point to only hire women. But as their business has continued growing since they opened two years ago, Janet and Elissa have now added two guys to their payroll.


"We promised them they wouldn't have to get a sex change." said Janet. "They were pretty nervous at first. But they are great guys."

Janet comes from a long lineage of female brewers. Inside Spinnikar Bay Brewing hangs a photo of Janet's family taken in 1907. In the picture Janet's grandmother as a baby is sitting on a barrel of beer that Janet's great-grandmother brewed. Underneath the family, etched into the original print, are the words "What is home without beer?"

With such a rich family history of brewing it's no surprise that Janet has been making beer for a long time. Before opening Spinnikar she was an award-winning home brewer.

And echoing Janet's family brewing lineage, a lot of the beers that are sold


Live & Cultured

alone we rot,
together we ferment

Iggy's, based right here on Bainbridge Island, celebrates the art of fermentation, transforming organic & locally sourced ingredients into the finest living food & drink, including seven varieties of Sauerkraut & Kim Chee, Beet Kvass, Habanero Hot Sauce & Herbal Honey Kombucha. Iggy's handcrafts the quintessential 'slow foods,' fermented the old fashioned ways – which can take up to 8 weeks – never using vinegar, pasteurization or preservatives.

Artisanal fermentation such as Iggy's leads to delicious foods & drinks that are always raw & probiotic, high in nutrient content & inducers of health & even happiness. In fact, swarthy sailors & explorers of old would carry raw-fermented krauts on board their ships to ward off scurvy & sustain their health over the long sea voyages.

With roots deep in the island, 'Living Culture' is Iggy's maxim. They celebrate vibrant, creative, resilient communities. Iggy's sees traditionally cultured foods as playing a primary role in remedying the modern day plight of homogenization, sterility, & lack of cultural identity—it is their mission to serve & cultivate 'local living culture'.


By Carolyn Klassen

The Bainbridge High School Sailing Team is off to a sizzling start this season, dominating the competition in their first 2015 season regatta. After 14 races, BHS finished 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th overall of 16 entries. Winds were squirrelly and gusty causing several capsizes. Volunteer Coach Susan Kaseler has led BHS to NW District Championship titles and National Championship Regattas for the last 12 consecutive years.

The BHS Sailing Team is embarking on some serious fundraising to acquire six new Z420 racing dinghies. Many BHS graduates go on to sail competitively in college, and the Z420 is emerging as the boat of choice on the college and high school circuit. "Proper preparation for National Championships, whether collegiate or high school, should involve practice in the nationally recognized classes of boats used in premier schools. A fleet of Z420s to complement our FJs will make that possible," says Kaseler.

Woman in Brewing cont.

in the Spinnikar taproom and kegged for customers are what she calls "decedents" of her original home brew recipes. For a brewery just shy of two years old the place already feels steeped in history and tradition, from the beer to the building itself.

Long before Spinnikar moved in, the building was a filling station. The front room where customers now sit used to be an outdoor area where people drove up to fill their tanks. And what was once the mechanics shop in the back of the building is where the beer is brewed. There's a long row of silver tanks on one side of the room and rows of grain-filled barrels on the other.

While Janet runs the brewing, Elissa runs the business. Her "office" is a desk and chair smack dab in the middle of all the brewing equipment and ingredients. It is also in the direct sightline of the bar.

Having an office in the middle of a brewery and taproom can make Elissa's job challenging. She said it sometimes feels like she spends more time saying hello to customers than getting her work done. But then again it's hard to complain, because too many hellos aren't such a bad problem to have.


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Flickr Photos

Parfitt Way Management • 231 Parfitt Way S.W. • Bainbridge Island, WA 98110 • Phone: 206- 842- 0969 • Email: click here