January 19th, 2015
Born in 1921 on a small farm in Port Madison, Akio Suyematsu’s family moved to Day Road and began Suyematsu Farm in 1928. The iconic Suyematsu pioneered organic and sustainable farming methods, which are being upheld by the island’s farming community to this day. Upon his passing in July of 2012, the island community lost the last of the original Japanese-American homestead farmers on the island, a “living link with the island’s farming tradition,” as stated in the official Suyematsu Proclamation. Suyematsu worked hard to build an atmosphere through which the education, support, and expansion of the island’s conscious community would be facilitated. He accomplished this with the respect and admiration of those with whom he worked. Following his death, the City of Bainbridge Island honored Suyematsu’s dedication by declaring August 19 as “Akio Suyematsu Day.” Coincidentally—or maybe not—this day is also marked as “Earth Overshoot Day,” the marker of humanity living beyond our natural resources’ limits for the year. By evaluating the ecological budget within which we should all strive to live, we understand that the earth is not an infinite resource and we must nurture land, water, and sky in order to sustain. Suyematsu’s own ethics were very much the same.
Day Road Farms is the oldest and most continuously farmed property as well as one of the largest working farms in Kitsap County, producing 80-100 tons of food annually. This 40-acre farm is also one of the last large family farms on the island, which created its reputation as a strawberry capital. Aside from their famed strawberries, raspberries, and pumpkins, Suyematsu & Bertryn Family Farm also produces raspberries, corn, pumpkins, grapes, potatoes, garlic, onions, and seasonal greens.
Suyematsu’s life work also included planting 2 acres of grape vines on his property at Day Road; he handed over and, in 1976, sold the vineyard to Gerard and Jo Ann Bertryn, who began Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery, a conscious and sustainable viticulture practice, which focuses on caring for the immediate and surrounding landscape from which one harvests food. This winery was the first “salmon safe” certified vineyard in Washington state and the only vineyard in western Washington to refrain from using insecticides. As Gerard Bertryn so accurately stated, “The food you eat and the wine you drink is the landscape you create.”
Recently, Betsey Whittick, proprietor of Laughing Crow Farm and 25-year vineyard manager of the Bertryn’s property, began the process of taking over the vineyard with the help of nine young investing farmers, numerous community members, and the Open Space Bond under which she secured protection for the land. In 2000, the City of Bainbridge purchased nearly half of the farm’s land through the Open Space Bond, which maintains that the working landscape will be protected as farmland forever. That land is now managed by Friends of the Farms, an island nonprofit working to “preserve and enhance local farming,” according to their website.
Friends of the Farms works to build the island’s community, local economy, and landscape by promoting sustainability as well as supporting local farms and farmers. According to Ryan Montella, a Friends of the Farms board member, the organization “manages the stewardship of the land as well as the leases of all farmers leasing the land.” Montella, who serves on the government affairs committee, elaborates: “Aside from providing space for seven farmers, Friends of the Farm manages the Farm Link program and works to preserve up to 180 acres of farmland on Bainbridge Island, as well as numerous other initiatives including fund raising and grant writing.” The organization also manages the interns’ lease of the Suyematsu’s own home on the Day Road Farm once the interns are selected by various farms.
For more than nine decades his land has been producing quality food products as well as providing work experience for interns and edible education. The Suyematsu & Bentryn Farms has acted as home base for EduCulture since 2006, which, with the help of the Suyematsu legacy, bridges “sustainable local farming with education for sustainability,” according to their site. EduCulture provides a platform for teaching and learning in the field of agriculture for grades K-12, as well as community-based education for the greater Puget Sound area.
Contributed by Christine St.Pierrre
December 6th, 2014
Located kitty-corner from Bay Hay and Feed, tucked on the backside of the Rolling Bay Hall, you’ll find the home base for SPACECRAFT. Co-Founders Morgan Terry and Cortney Wollaston, two self-professed “vibe oriented” women, have made this hidden stage a truly unique venue for Bainbridge Island.
SPACECRAFT is a performance and event based non-profit organization with the mission to bring innovative and adventurous artists to Bainbridge. Terry and Wollaston believe their non-profit status is helping them fill a missing link in the Bainbridge art and entertainment scene.
Instead of obsessing on for-profit issues (like ticket sales concession prices) they can focus on finding diverse performances and curating a unique artistic space. “There really isn’t another place like this in Kitsap County,” says Wollaston.
Terry, who does the booking for SPACECRAFT, says she hopes the project will get people on Bainbridge listening to new music and trying new things. “When you come here tickets are always $10 advanced or $12 at the door,” explains Terry. “That way if you end up not liking it then it’s not the end of the world. At least you came, you tried something new, and you had a beer.”
Whether it’s a punk show or experimental performance art, Terry and Wollaston do their best to make SPACECRAFT as friendly as possible. “I want people to feel comfortable in a situation where they might be taking a risk,” said Terry. “Even if the show is pushing boundaries the rest of this is comfortable, local, and welcoming. That’s my goal.”
Interested in getting involved? Check out volunteer opportunities, as well as the SPACECRAFT event calendar, at SPACECRAFTpresents.org.
Contributed by Liz Pleasant
December 4th, 2014
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, started like so many other Tuesdays at the pub… with our Open Mic night. This one was much different, however, Todd Houghton was noticeably absent. As many of you are aware Todd died unexpectedly in November. Nancy, Todd’s wife and Aaron, Todd’s son, were present, however, for one final Open Mic in Todd’s remembrance. The pub was packed with Todd’s friends in music… some old and some new. It was a night that all the good times that we have enjoyed over the last 22 years on Tuesdays was celebrated.
Follow the link to see the story we did on Todd for the Open Mic 20th anniversary: http://parfittway.com/Blog/?p=713
Thank you and so long, Todd - it’s been good to know ya!
November 18th, 2014
Check Willap Hills Cheese website for their gourmet gift packages, full of delicious treats personally selected by Amy & Stephen to complement Willapa Hills Big Boy Blue, Two Faced Blue and Pluvius, as well as their Artisan Cream Cheese Spreads. Great for gifts for family, business associates or holiday hosts!
Priced from $49.95, the gift boxes fit any budget, and shipping is included to Washington & Oregon.
Please call 360-291-EWES for shipping rates to other US states.
Ordering & Shipping Details: Orders received by Thursday at 3:00 pm (Pacific Standard Time) will be shipped the following Wednesday for Thursday or Friday delivery.
October 31st, 2014
October 13th, 2014
Pierce County News did a spot on a couple of our local meat producers (Perry Schermerhorn & Becky Weed) and the Puget Sound Meat Cooperative’s mobile slaughter trailer… take a look. Becky Weed raises the beef we eat at our restaurants. It is all processed by the trailer in the video. Click on the link:
September 25th, 2014
A garden flourishes in the spring and summer, bursting with color and bountiful harvests. Slowly, each of these lively plants will begin to wilt, dropping leaves and sinking closer to the ground. Eventually, the garden will decompose and freeze through the duration of winter. It isn’t until spring draws near that we must ponder the garden once again, accounting for the perennials that will awaken at the thawing of Earth to relive their dependable and vibrant cycle. The annuals are but a memory, their passionate bursts of life having ended at the first frost, and we must rethink and redistribute these varieties in different parts of the garden—places they’ve never been, where the soil is richer and the sun shines bright.
Since childhood, I’ve lived my life as an annual among perennials, giving every ounce of my spirit and energy and love to each steadfast community that welcomes me with open and productive arms. While the community and landscape of Bainbridge Island is and will remain nourishing enough to bring me back to life over and over again, I must move on and plant my delicate roots in the rich soil of Bellingham Bay. My life on Bainbridge Island altered my future forevermore—as would any life after living in such an empowering and mesmerizing environment. I was so inspired by the idea of regenerating the wealth of knowledge and inspiration I received from various sources on the island—YES! Magazine, our local farming programs, the community and music revolving around Pegasus Coffee House, and YOU—that I applied for and was accepted into Woodring College of Education’s Master in Teaching program at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
The bittersweet transition came quickly, and as eager as I was to get to the new community and environment I now call home, I knew that leaving came at the cost of becoming unfrozen in the timeless sphere beneath which all of us live blissfully on the island. I thought it was gone forever, the equity and togetherness and solidarity and passion and art and Earthly wonders, and prepared myself for withdrawal. But, then I arrived in Whatcom County, where the sun sets the sky ablaze and illuminates the art-covered buildings, garden-covered yards, bike-covered streets, and forest-covered valley between the Salish Sea and the North Cascade range. Here, the community is as vibrant and innovative as the island’s—in fact, the community is quite shared. The Bainbridge to Bellingham pipeline is real, as the exodus of young adventurers brings their journey to the trails and sidewalks of my new beloved streets, where we share music, friendships, art, and a passion for social justice and sustainability.
The Bellingham community is a macro version of our tight island family, made even more vibrant by the transient annuals amongst the homesteading perennial that come together to create a wild and productive multipurpose garden. Here, doors and minds are open, and the last days of sunlight pour inside of both as the mass migration of students inspires an even more bustling community, with events and music and food and beer—endless beer from tens of breweries around every corner—that nourish this hardy garden in the wake of winter. As I write my final words of farewell to you, island community, I smile at the thought of knowing you here, in various forms and faces, and look forward to connecting our communities in the future. Until next time.
–Christine St. Pierre
September 15th, 2014
Friday nights have an air of excitement to them; many have wrapped up a week of nine to five and look forward to spending time with family and friends in the traditional “eat, drink, and be merry” fashion. Bainbridge Island has a wide variety of restaurants and bars that offer scenic venues for gatherings, but on the first Friday of each month, the city takes things a step further by providing our community with the First Friday Art Walk, a gallery hop and dining experience.
This event features visual art on display at the many galleries and boutiques that line downtown Winslow, from oil, acrylic, and watercolor paintings to sculptures crafted from various mediums, blown glass, and textiles. Beginning at 6 PM and wrapping up at 8, the tour is designed to begin at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, located corner of 305 and Winslow, allowing for travelers from Seattle and beyond to jump right in after departing the ferry. Heading west from there, gallery-goers can visit places like Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, The Island Gallery, Roby King Galleries, Mesolini Glass, Millstream, and the Stephen Fey Photography Gallery. Many of these destinations feature art created by locals, including youth galleries!
Now for the “eat, drink’ part of the evening—many galleries provide refreshments, including snacks, tapas, and drinks. Akin to any other gallery opening, you can enjoy the company of your community and incredible visual art while sipping on local wine. In between galleries, enjoy a meal catered to the art walk with small plates and tapas that will get you out the door quickly yet satisfied, leaving plenty of time to enjoy more of what the First Friday Art Walk has to offer. For a quick snack, take a detour to Blackbird Bakery, Fork & Spoon, or Pegasus Coffee House and enjoy baked goods and café menu items. Otherwise, indulge in a dinner experience at Four Swallows, Harbour Public House, or Hitchcock Restaurant that includes small plates and weekend specials.
The event occurs early enough in the evening to bring the whole family along! Gather together and enjoy our finals weeks under the warm summer sun for an evening of art, food, family, and friends.
August 26th, 2014
Community members of Bainbridge Island have recently come together in solidarity and opposition to the Visconsi development at the corner of High School Road and 305, directly across from Ace Hardware. The forest will be clear-cut and the land developed into yet another shopping center, equipped with yet another franchise drug store, medical building, and plenty of room for restaurants and retail. You may think to yourself, “Wait, there’s already one cattycorner to this, right across the street!” And you’d be right. Which is why, right now, and every evening from 5-7, local protestors will line the sidewalks, wielding signs that read “NO MALL SPRAWL,” “Bring Real Business,” and “Do we need more empty retail?”
While this current struggle is not new to the island, local and state-wide media have revived the story thanks to 19-year-old activist Chiara D’Angelo’s tree sit, rigged 70 feet high in a Douglas Fir. With eyes on Bainbridge Island, organizations such as Environmental Bainbridge and Islanders for Responsible Development are feverishly organizing participatory action to protest the environmental destruction and boycott the soon-to-be 62,000-square-foot shopping center.
In April of 2013, Visconsi, an Ohio-based company, filed an application for land development of forestland that provides vital habitat to many species and is a part of protected wetland. The application included a tree removal permit, which would validate the clear-cutting of 830 trees. One month later, the group Environmental Bainbridge formed, and began grassroots organization within the community to protect this space and promote local businesses over monopolistic franchises.
Months later, in November of 2013, the COBI (City of Bainbridge Island) Planning Commission announced absolutely “no support” for the development whatsoever. Simultaneously, citizens voiced unanimous opposition in public and private meetings. According to Environment Bainbridge, the development is out of scale in location and zoning, violates COBI environmental goals, makes no attempt at saving native trees, misclassifies adjacent wetland, and is not consistent with the island’s comprehensive plan, despite the lead architect’s initial assurance. Furthermore, the development is in direct violation of COBI Municipal Code 19.06.040 A., stating, “The purpose of the High School Road zones is to provide commercial uses that complement downtown Winslow.” I’ll repeat: “complements downtown Winslow”—not competes with!
The cherry on top for many islanders—aside from the aforementioned environmental and economic impacts—is the increase in traffic, particularly for those living in neighborhoods connected or close to the new development. Not only will this have an adverse effect on the island’s goal of a reduced carbon footprint, but will act as a bottleneck for the only gateway to and from the ferry, potentially causing commuter issues.
Unfortunately, the trees have fallen, the land is scarred, and development is underway. The city heard its people urge against this development and succumbed to the forces of mega-capital. This is not deterring local activists, who continue to protest, rally, write letters, make phone calls to key opposition figures, canvas neighborhoods, and engage the community by setting a goal to tell 10 other people about the logistics of the development. Many islanders have also declared a seven-year commitment to boycott all businesses in the development, and urge others to do the same. Visit the website of Environmental Bainbridge to learn more about this local issue and take action.
August 13th, 2014
Never have I lived in such a giving community. While working a shift at Pegasus Coffee House, a customer overheard that I missed out on a coffee grinder during the Rotary Auction and surprised me by bringing an extra one that she had at home a week later! Such kindness does not go unnoticed, or un-circulated. In fact, Bainbridge Island has an entire community of givers who are actively relinquishing old items to neighbors in need, or receiving items that they have a specific need for.
The project, called Buy Nothing Bainbridge, promotes random acts of kindness, all day long. With the perfect balance of technology and community, the Buy Nothing Project began a Facebook group within which members of their community could post a “give” or an “ask.” The most difficult part of the process is deciding which member to give or receive from, as so many folks are offering to help. This amazing service enables communities to commit acts of daily good together, and creates an opportunity for more introverted community members who do less socializing to create new bonds over shared interests and get to know the people living around them!
There have been many innovative ways in which the Buy Nothing Project has been utilized. Buy Nothing weddings and birthdays are a growing trend; the goal is to spend next to nothing on an event that typically costs many hundreds or thousands of dollars, and still have a beautiful, unique, and cherished day made even more special because of its incredible community support.
I have both seen and experienced many acts of kindness through this forum, particularly for folks who haven’t the money to purchase things they may want or need for their household that many, more fortunate individuals may have stacked in the garage. I received a free bed. My roommate received a free tent, and a DVD/VCR player was donated to our household! The also reduces waste, offering ways to rid your household of unwanted items that may otherwise end up in the trash, such as old binders, folders, plastic children’s toys, construction material, etc.
The Buy Nothing Project can also be quite miraculous. Often, members of the community will offer something of great value in a raffle style drawing. “Pick a number between 1 and 1000,” the caption might read, and the winner receives an espresso machine, pair of skis, lawn mower, or home cooked meal! Artists will donate beautiful pieces worth hundreds of dollars. Photographers will offer sessions for free on a weekend. Special services will be offered, such as dinner on a beautiful piece of farmland, a sailboat ride, massages, lessons of any kind—truly, the list goes on. Anything and everything that could be given, offered, needed, or wanted can be found through this project.
Other examples of ways you can participate by donating or requesting: clothing, household decorations, holiday decorations, tutoring, baby supplies, children’s toys, athletic training, books, outdoor gear, furniture, appliances, art, music, and, the best part: food! Prepared foods or farm fresh foods are often offered, as many individuals will have extra eggs from their personal coop, too many loaves of fresh bread, an over sized kombucha SCOBY that can be divvied out, tomatoes coming out of their ears, or a heaping pile of compost that’s just gotten a little too big.
To participate, type “Buy Nothing Bainbridge” in the search bar on Facebook and request to join. Once you’ve been accepted into the group (which is filtered simply to assure that members are within the community) scroll through new and old posts to get the vibe and see how members communicate. There are other Buy Nothing Projects, including one in Kitsap County. If you tell a friend about the project and they adore the idea, urge them to start one in their own community, too, by visiting buynothingproject.org and spearheading the newest and greatest thing to happen to communities in a very long time!