Blue House Farm

By Tyler Davis, member of the Institute’s 15th Graduate Cohort.
Spring has arrived and summer will be here before we know it. When I think about summer, I think about juicy, red tomatoes, summer squash and fresh cucumbers, picked right off the vine. This summer, we should be able to find all of those things (and more!) at North Cascades Institute’s “Blue House” in Marblemount.
North Cascades Institute has implemented a Foodshed Program that encourages the use of organic, local, sustainably sourced foods in the Environmental Learning Center Dining Hall for program participants, visitors, staff and graduate students.
In an effort to find more ways to encourage healthy food choices and to support sustainable food systems, the organization has decided to start a farm – tentatively named “Blue House Farm.” On Sunday, April 10th North Cascades Institute Staff, graduate students and neighbors all came together to build the “foundation” of the farm!
Currently, there are some graduate students from the 15th cohort and North Cascades Institute staff members working to plan and start the farm. As plans go, the Blue House Farm should be operating for production and educational use in the summer of 2017. This year we are dipping our toes in the water, so to speak. We will be planting various crops over the 2016 growing season that will be used by the upcoming graduate cohort (Cohort 16). Some will be available to staff and Cohort 15 graduate students. We also plan to donate a portion to local food banks.


Calvin Laatsch (left), Shari Galiardi (top) and David “Hutch” Hutchison (right) building tables for starter plants for the green house.

We have a diverse growing selection for this summer including:

  • Genovese basil
  • Santo cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Cocozelle Zucchini
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Poblano peppers
  • Various berries

The growing season will be filled with plenty of experimentation. Through what we learn from the land, we should be able to take what we learn this year and apply it to our methods next year.
Adam with Plant

Adam Bates having fun weeding the beds.

In 2017, there will be a focus on growing greens, herbs and berries in the garden and caring for the chickens and hogs that will be a new addition to the farm. These crops and animals will be used in the Environmental Learning Center Dining Hall, but there will also be an educational aspect to the farm. The hope is that we can get people, of all ages, out on the farm to learn about sustainable farming and to encourage food choices that are healthy for people and the land.
Work at the farm is starting to pick up as the growing season approaches. Blue House Farm work parties, in whciwill ensue in the coming months, in which staff and graduate students will work together on major projects like greenhouse construction and seed starts. Spring brings an air of inspiration and productivity, so what better time to make a push for community efforts and a little hard work?

All of us relaxing after a long, hard day of work!

Hopefully we will be seeing beautiful crops-like the ones above-surviving and thriving in our own garden in the upcoming months!

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