SEQUIM — The first farmer to use Community Supported Agriculture in Clallam County will be honored Saturday as the North Olympic Land Trust’s 2016 Farmer of the Year.
Doug Hendrickson veered from his career as an Olympic National Park ranger to farmer more than two decades ago and began Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) — a business model that creates the opportunity for families or individuals to invest in a farm at the beginning of the season in return for weekly shares from the farm’s production — at Salt Creek Farm in 1993.
As the first in Clallam County to use the model, he “has helped to shape farming across Clallam County,” the land trust said in a news release.
“It [CSA] is a key connector between food, community and place,” said Tom Sanford, North Olympic Land Trust executive director.
“Doug’s leadership in establishing Community Supported Agriculture on a local level has been pivotal to the success of small-scale farmers on the North Olympic Peninsula.”
Hendrickson will be recognized during the North Olympic Land Trust’s Harvest Dinner, set at 5 p.m. Saturday at SunLand Golf &Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive in Sequim.
The 17th annual Harvest Dinner will showcase nearby farms, with artisan chefs at Pacific Pantry preparing a meal with ingredients from within 100 miles of Sequim.
The $100-a-plate dinner is sold-out, but the land trust is working to make more seats available, it says on its website at www. northolympiclandtrust.org. To add a name to the waiting list, call Joan Rutkowski, administrative assistant, at 360-417-1815, ext. 4, or email [email protected] northolympiclandtrust.org.
Hendrickson will receive the organization’s 18th Farmer of the Year award, joining a small group of local farm innovators.
Although Hendrickson still enjoys the area’s backcountry and alpine meadows, for the past 23 years, he has devoted most of his passion for land stewardship toward Salt Creek Farm — a 12-acre, certified organic vegetable and herb farm located west of Port Angeles that he co-owns with his wife, Lee Norton.
“As a park ranger, you’re a curator of the land,” Hendrickson said. “As a farmer, I’m still a curator of the land, but it’s more hands-on.”
When Hendrickson established Salt Creek Farm in 1992, Community Supported Agriculture was being practiced elsewhere, but no farmers within the area were using it.
Since Hendrickson spearheaded the first CSA in Clallam County, other local farmers have implemented similar programs, and its popularity has continued to grow, the land trust said.
Building Salt Creek Farm with CSA at its heart aligned with Hendrickson’s interest in farming and hopes of providing a lasting community opportunity, the land trust said.
Not only does CSA provide a sense of security for the farmer, but it fosters what Hendrickson loves most about farming: community connections, as well as people’s connection to food, soil and the earth.
“Community Supported Agriculture creates a community that’s self-nurturing,” he said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Every week, many CSA members, all with differing backgrounds, visit Salt Creek Farm to enjoy one another’s company and to share in the harvest experience.
“CSA tries to get people to think about who and where their food comes from, and how it’s produced,” Hendrickson said.
To quote the notable Wendell Berry, “ ‘eating is an agricultural act,’ ” he added.
The collaborative process and insights into food production gained through CSA supports the four goals of Salt Creek Farm, which include reconnecting people to the source of their food, providing nutritious organic food for the local community, farming in a responsible and sustainable way that not only maintains but improves soil fertility and lastly, helping to revitalize small-scale agriculture on the North Olympic Peninsula.
The Harvest Dinner was started by Friends of the Fields and continued by the North Olympic Land Trust after the two groups merged in 2010. The annual event both celebrates and raises support for local farmland conservation.
The North Olympic Land Trust works to conserve lands that sustain the ecological and economic vitality of the communities of Clallam County.
For more information about the land trust, see www.NorthOlympicLand Trust.org.