In addition to beginning to farm their 45 acres in Chimacum, Ben Thompson, left, and Matt Montaya of Kodama Farm raise Nigerian dwarf goats and chickens. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

In addition to beginning to farm their 45 acres in Chimacum, Ben Thompson, left, and Matt Montaya of Kodama Farm raise Nigerian dwarf goats and chickens. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Chimacum’s Kodama Farm and Food Forest finalist in contest

CHIMACUM — What happens when siblings and a friend, coincidentally all born in the same hospital in Boulder, Colo., get together and brainstorm about their lives?

They challenge themselves to do something that will make a difference.

“The three of us were out on a hike one day and talked about what ideas we were inspired by,” said Matt Montoya, 25, one of the three owners of Kodama Farm and Food Forest in the Chimacum Valley.

Grace Thompson, 26, has a degree in biology and planned to go to veterinary school. Her brother, Ben Thompson, 28, studied biology and was working at the VA hospital in Seattle as a research scientist, thinking about medical school. Montoya worked at his family’s wedding and events center in Colorado.

“Our parents were a little shocked when we decided to go down the farming route,” G. Thompson said.

“A farm-to-table restaurant was the plan,” Montoya said. “We had just watched ‘Chef’s Table.’ We were just learning about what conventional agriculture was doing to the environment.

“We wondered about starting our own farm and becoming farmers because quality recipes come from quality ingredients,” Montoya continued. “So, we became more passionate about that idea, started doing research online, watching You Tube videos, reading books and articles and visiting farms.”

The threesome found the land in Chimacum and worked out a two-year lease-to-own agreement for 45 acres. They acquired a loan in May 2017.

They are working with the Jefferson Land Trust and the Salmon Coalition to rebuild habitat. They are planting native trees and re-meandering the east fork of the Chimacum Creek which flows through the property to encourage salmon to spawn up-creek.

They also are busy preparing vegetable plots, raising goats, growing exotic plants in their geodesic dome greenhouse while envisioning the land matured as a working farm and restaurant.

This is where the Kitsap Bank’s edg3 FUND award of $20,000 would help.

The last act in a contest involving five other finalists will be in Bremerton on Thursday. The grand prize will be $20,000.

If the business owners receive the award, the money would go to what they term the “Food Forest,” some 5 to 7 acres dedicated as a special habitat.

“We’re developing it around our existing orchard,” Ben Thompson said. ”We noticed there were 24 to 26 mature fruit trees already here. We have apples, pears, Asian pears, plums, quince, cherries.

“The forest will emulate and natural forest using primarily edible, medicinal or otherwise beneficial plants. Like with a natural forest, we’ll have a canopy with fruit and nut trees, then smaller trees and shrubs like blueberries, and then the ground layer where you can do things like strawberries and other ground vegetables, mushrooms and herbs.

“We’ve already started planting fruit trees. We need funding to expand that,” Ben Thomson said.

“Like any forest, it takes time to mature. We’re hoping in 5 to 10 years we’ll see some significant differences.”

Montoya said the Food Forest will be resistant to climate change, and resistant to drought and flooding.

“It’s a long-term project,” he admitted.

Grace Thompson said that Kodama Farm focuses on regenerative agriculture.

“That’s not only organic practices, but also trying to continuously improve the health of the soil,” she said. “We don’t till our garden beds; we want to keep all the soil intact. So we use a broad fork and cover with tarps to kill off the weeds.

“We want to educate the community as to why regenerative agriculture is really important, especially in today’s world.”

Added Ben Thompson: “We also want to show how farming and salmon can work together. People think it’s a separate thing, and can’t support each other. We want to show it’s possible.”

Kodama Farm is named for Japanese folklore tree spirits, an homage to an old growth tree on Tall Tree Lane where the farm is located. The farm’s logo features a tree spirit sitting on a branch of the tree watching over and protecting the land.

The three are hoping that the Kodama will bring them good luck Thursday.

For more information about the farm, go to www.kodamafarming.com.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Publisher Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com.

Grace Thompson checks the growth on the kumquat tree in her farm’s geodesic greenhouse. Kodama Farm is growing bananas, lemons, limes, pineapples, starfruit and medicinal herbs in the structure. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

Grace Thompson checks the growth on the kumquat tree in her farm’s geodesic greenhouse. Kodama Farm is growing bananas, lemons, limes, pineapples, starfruit and medicinal herbs in the structure. (Jeannie McMacken/Peninsula Daily News)

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