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Our Farm: Full Bloom Farm

Oct 2nd, 2017 | Category: Features

Peony sale, class coming up

by Elisabeth Marshall

There once was only low-bitten pasture and an unfinished house where our lush, productive farm now spreads among mature perennial gardens, orchards, hoop houses, woods and rich, no till beds. We were young, idealistic and determined to realize our vision over 30 years ago when we started our farm and chicken flock with our twin boys and one little girl in the making. We were fortunate to receive the wisdom and labor of many people in our community along our way.

Elisabeth Marshall in her peony field, and an overview of Full Bloom Farm on Lummi Island (below). Marshall has a self-serve farm stand on site (below). COURTESY PHOTOS

Elisabeth Marshall in her peony field, and an overview of Full Bloom Farm on Lummi Island (below). Marshall has a self-serve farm stand on site (below). COURTESY PHOTOS

When we purchased the acreage and house we also acquired a tilting old store that needed love and restoration. It was a classic structure from the age of marine docks with stores; a pioneer vestige of the Pacific Northwest islands. We decided to turn it into a restaurant.

Our garden beds and orchard supplied the restaurant which we operated until 1997 – long before “Farm to Table” was a known quantity in Whatcom County. When we sold the restaurant and invited my widowed mother to live with us, we expanded the farm, adding peonies for cut flowers and root divisions and a little house for her. The farm continued to grow along with our interests. Today we have a wide variety of vegetables, flowers, tree fruit (along with French cider apples), and indigo, which is our newest crop. We now have a thriving agritourism business that includes lodging at the farm, which gives us the opportunity to engage with people from all over the world. Mother’s house is now shelter and sanctuary for our guests.

Along the way, we’ve had our share of emergencies and aggravations. The storm of February 1989 left us cold, partially roofless, and without power for a week. I tried to cook,  unsuccessfully, with green wood on our wood stove. The windows bowed so badly from the 120 mph gusts we thought they’d blow in.  The furniture we stacked in front of the doors with a faulty latch, were blown across the living room. Finally, we evacuated to a friend’s house. She had a generator. The next winter we had one, too.

It turns out this stunning place in which we live is the island deer nursery. Every year a proud parade of does with their mostly twin fawns crosses our fields. They eat everything not fenced, even browsing  the flower beds just outside our windows and the pots on our deck. Sometimes repellent works, sometimes it doesn’t. In spite of this, our trees and gardens have matured, though not without plenty of cussing and heartburn.There was the time the new chicks came in a November blizzard. Trying to keep them alive under heat lamps, I nearly burnt down the barn. The chicks survived and so did the barn. But it was a very close thing. There have been years when I planted too early and everything froze. So I planted again, and sometimes, again, and again. There have been broken bones that had to wait a day before being seen by the doctor. There have been missed ferries, recitals without instruments, and lots of unusual haircuts. Farm 2017 Ed Lowe web

Ours is an extraordinary life, in a beautiful place, among hardworking, generous people. People like us, who love to work outside and who revel in the smell of dirt and grass and ocean and who wait for the gull’s cry and fog horns’ blasts.

When I read futurists’ excited predictions of coming automation, I have a very hard time imagining contraptions that can replace people who work and live at such a human scale. Huge corporate farms and fast food production schemes don’t need detailed nurturing from people like us. But it doesn’t sound reasonable that any machine, no matter how marvelous and well-engineered, will supply people with what really feeds them: working, creating, learning, loving, and growing.

 

For more information

PEONY ROOT SALE: Full Bloom Farm will host a peony root sale on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their Lummi Island farm. Over 60 varieties are available and hundreds of divisions.  Call 360-758-7173 or visit the website to view our online catalog: fullbloomfarmpeonies.com.Farm Stand web

GROWING PEONIES: On Tuesday, Oct. 10, Elisabeth Marshall will lead a presentation at Oak Harbor Garden Club, starting at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1050 SE Ireland St, Oak Harbor.

Follow the farm’s website and Facebook page for more information.

 

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