A work crew from Sarge’s Farmstand takes a break from various tasks. The workers are, from left, Bob Ball, Jay Baker holding the leash of Kindelle, David Durnford, Steve Boutelle, William Fleck, Cheri Tinker holding hen Tina, Steve Elmelund and Paul Hampton. Jennifer Pelikan, the “chicken whisperer” and case manager for Sarge’s Place, was away for the moment. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

A work crew from Sarge’s Farmstand takes a break from various tasks. The workers are, from left, Bob Ball, Jay Baker holding the leash of Kindelle, David Durnford, Steve Boutelle, William Fleck, Cheri Tinker holding hen Tina, Steve Elmelund and Paul Hampton. Jennifer Pelikan, the “chicken whisperer” and case manager for Sarge’s Place, was away for the moment. (Zorina Barker/for Peninsula Daily News)

WEST END NEIGHBOR: Sarge’s Place Farmstand celebrates new growth

JAY BAKER OF Sarge’s Place joked, “The military issued me two dog tags, one said B positive and the other said B negative.”

He was part of a circle of veterans tossing jokes and one-liners around while working at getting the new Sarge’s Farmstand ready to open Monday, July 2.

The group had taken a break from building, cleaning, gardening and pricing.

Sarge’s Place provides housing and more for homeless veterans in and around Forks.

The place operates under the larger, nonprofit entity North Olympic Regional Veterans Housing Network.

A couple of years ago Sarge’s Attic was opened as a second-hand antique store to help provide income for the programs of Sarge’s Place.

The farmstand is opening, in part, to further fund and feed the veterans of the West End.

A couple of decades ago, the property on the corner of Klahndike Boulevard and Sol Duc Way where Sarge’s Farmstand and Attic are today used to be home to bumper-boats and miniature golf.

Subsequent residents left the property looking unloved.

Since Sarge has taken over, the 1.3-acre lot has the attractiveness of something loved and cared for.

“We have people stopping and thanking us for fixing the place up,” said Cheri Tinker, director of Sarge’s Place. She has been a primary visionary of what has become realities for Sarge’s Place.

About 0.4 acre of the corner property is enclosed by a high, chain-link fence and here is where the backbone of Sarge’s Farmstand is coming to life.

First to appear were laying chickens. The eggs helped feed the veterans living next door and caring for the birds was good medicine for them.

Next came the raised beds and greenhouse. Now there are six long, raised beds framed in railroad ties or pressure-treated lumber. Planted half barrels and smaller beds lie in an orderly fashion about the grass.

The veterans have planted lettuces, peppers, carrots, potatoes, bok choy, onions, radishes, squash, corn, berries, sunflowers, garlic and grapes. Several fruit trees and flower beds dot the area.

“It’s a little bit of everything because we want to feed our veterans from this garden,” Tinker said.

Lining the edges of the nearby greenhouse are tomato plants bending down to the earth from the weight of their green fruit.

The center of the greenhouse has a potting table complete with a month-to-month planting schedule.

On the west edge of the garden area are composting bins for maximizing the material from coop and garden.

According to Tinker, the goal is to “be pesticide- and chemical-free and as natural as possible.”

Nobody expects the veterans to eat all their vegetables.

This is where the storefront farmstand comes in.

Sarge’s plan is to sell the produce they don’t consume and they have also sought out West End organic growers to augment their stock.

Tinker wants to make it very clear bananas will not be available at the seasonal food stand.

“People are so removed from their produce,” said Tinker. “It’s exhausting trying to explain to people what ‘in season’ means.”

Basically it means this: If it isn’t growing on the West End at any given time, it is not going to be for sale.

The storefront was added to an existing building that was the changing room left over from the bumper-boat days.

These days, the shower stall holds weed trimmers, saws and other tools.

The new addition to the building has two sliding doors which reveal the produce when open.

Tall display stands made by the inmates at Olympic Corrections Center hold bins of food.

“This is our trial run. We know we are just getting our feet wet now,” Tinker said.

“It’s new ground,” added her son, William Fleck who, along with his sister, Emma-Grayce, has been a regular helping hand.

Tinker lists helpers from across the Olympic Peninsula, many of whom have come from the internet.

She deeply appreciates the generosity of folks who support these veterans and the work of Sarge’s Place.

Tinker also said the veterans participate in Clallam County Gleaners.

“If anyone has produce from their gardens they would like to donate for the veterans to eat or sell, we would be glad to hear from them,” she said.

Contact Sarge’s Place at 360-374-5252.

_________

Zorina Barker lives in the Sol Duc Valley with her husband, a logger, and two children she home-schools.

Submit items and ideas for the column to her at zorinabarker [email protected], or call her at 360-461-7928. West End Neighbor appears in the PDN every other Tuesday.

Her next column will be July 10.

More in Opinion

LETTER: Resist the Borg

Nice to hear Clallam County may achieve herd immunity as early as… Continue reading

DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: The speed of the sound of live music

WATER IN THE desert: That’s how it felt when I heard the… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Olympic Peninsula driving guide

The signs of summer are all around. The roar of the lawn… Continue reading

LETTER: Poverty, overpopulation

What does poverty have to do with overpopulation? As a young person… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: Requiem for a river

Spring is a time of hope on the river. The salmon eggs… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: The Orca Task Force

Last week we examined the tragic results of capturing the orca for… Continue reading

Meiqi Liang 
photo courtesy of Meiqi Liang
DIANE URBANI DE LA PAZ: A year of transformation — in place

The post stopped me in the middle of my scrolling. Here was… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: A history of whaling continued

Last week, we reviewed the industrial slaughter that pushed our large whales… Continue reading

Paul Hansen
POINT OF VIEW: To save family farms like mine, pass capital gains as emergency measure

THE PANDEMIC HIT Washington hard. The economic collapse that arrived with it… Continue reading

ron allen
Legislature: Support Trust Land Transfer for state forests

People on the Olympic Peninsula benefit from our state forest lands in… Continue reading

PAT NEAL: A short history of whaling

It’s always fun to look back at this day in history to… Continue reading

Douglas Woodruff Jr.
Come together to save steelhead

OUR STEELHEAD ARE in serious trouble. For the Washington Department of Fish… Continue reading