By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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Nash's Farm Store, for example, was a creamery back in Sequim's dairy-rich days. Then, from the late 1950s through the '80s, it was a tavern, with apartments upstairs.
And now it's an organic farming showcase having its first anniversary party today.
The public is invited to the gathering, which will commingle food, conversation with farmers, the unveiling of a new mural and a performance by poet and dancer Mary Lou Sanelli from
6 p.m. until 8 p.m. tonight at the store at 4681 Sequim-Dungeness Way.
Nash Huber, son of a Midwestern farming family, came to the North Olympic Peninsula from Illinois in 1969 and did a variety of jobs: boat building, gardening and such.
By 1979, he'd made up his mind to farm and started with “three vacant lots and a truck,” said his wife, Patty McManus.
Acre by leased acre, Huber built his organic operation, selling produce at outdoor markets and talking with neighbors about pesticide-free food.
One neighbor was Lynette Brown of Dungeness, just 16 when she met Huber.
Since then, they've had many a conversation about the future of food: how organic practices affect the health of humans and their planet.
“He was the first one to teach me about the whole big picture,” Brown recalled.
She's just finished a “whole big picture” at the farm store: a 10-foot-by-4-foot mural loaded with vegetables, fruit, ladybugs, sunflowers — and “Nash and Patty,” as the farm store mom and pop are known in these parts.
The mural is a multicolored thank-you to the donors — lots of local residents — who gave some $15,000 to help the Hubers renovate the store.
They bought the building, the former Dungeness Tavern, in 2007 and spent the next four years raising money and retrofitting it, to open at last Sept. 20, 2011.
Brown painted Nash's mural with her 16-year-old niece Rita Browning of Shoreline and Sequim resident Angela Howard Queen; Sequim artist and teacher Martha Rudersdorf was “a cheerleader and gave us painting instruction,” Brown said.
Depending on donation level, contributors are painted on as honeybees, “helpful ants,” ladybugs, ruby-red beets and “24-karat carrots,” McManus added.
The farm store shelves and displays are stocked with bounty from the 450 acres now farmed by Nash's Organic Produce company, plus products from other organic operations across the Pacific Northwest.
The grocery employs 15 full- and part-time workers, McManus said.
And just as it was when Bettie Duncan ran the Dungeness Tavern, the second floor is residential.
“She told me, 'I tended bar, and I raised three kids here,'” McManus said.
These days, McManus rents the upstairs apartments to Nash's Organic farm workers.
At around 6:30 during tonight's reception, the mural will be unveiled. At 7 p.m., Sanelli will give her performance.
Sanelli, a Peninsula Daily News columnist, is the author of seven books, including The Immigrant's Table and Among Friends: A Memoir.
In addition to the party, a free sampling of products at Nash's Farm Store and drawings for baskets of Nash's produce will go on all day today, Saturday and Sunday.
Face painting will be part of the festivities Saturday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., and a Zumba-tomic exercise class for youngsters will start at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, Nash's Farm Store can be reached at 360-683-4642 and via www.NashsOrganicProduce.com.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at email@example.com.