Organic, peninsula-based products at the click of a mouse

If the world has learned one thing from Hurricane Katrina, it’s that disaster is unavoidable.

It’s not if something bad happens, it’s when, said Sid Maroney, who’s been accused of being a pessimist on more than one occasion. Natural disaster, terrorism, war and disease are all threats to mankind, the chemical engineer turned vocational rehabilitation counselor said, and it’s important for people to be prepared for the unknown.

“Known” problems also are a threat to society, Maroney reminded, such as rising oil prices and the upcoming 2009 Hood Canal bridge closure.

“I’m not just trying to be doom and gloom,” he said. “I’m being realistic. The price of oil will continue rising and there will be consequences.”

With the economy entering a recession, sustainability is critical, said Maroney, who is also the group manager for Local Action For a Sustainable Tomorrow. He identifies energy, transportation, farmland preservation, water, emergency preparedness, recycling and waste management, communication, health care and food as key concerns.

Focusing specifically on food, Maroney recently helped form Sequim Locally Grown, an online market connecting farmers, growers, producers and consumers.

“Do you know where your food comes from?” Maroney asked. “It doesn’t actually come from Safeway,” he joked, “and if disaster strikes, people need to know where to find food.”

“The average grocery store item travels 1,015 miles,” he added. “That’s not sustainable.”

Sequim Locally Grown is an online store that features food and products local to the North Olympic Peninsula. It’s an extension of the Sequim Open Aire Market and is associated with LAST.

Consumers can log onto the Web site, select the products they wish to buy and pick up orders at a central distribution center. Vendors can post products for sale and view what others are selling so that farmers complement rather than compete with each other.

Selling homegrown food online is a great idea, according to Pennie Dutro Lujan, owner of Nouveau Farm on Palo Alto Road in Sequim. “There aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done, so I like the idea of selling online rather than going to the market every Saturday morning or having people come to the farm all the time,” she said. “To me, farming is a big circle and the more people who are involved the better it flows.”

Dutro Lujan bought Nouveau Farm nine years ago. It was started as a dairy farm in the 1940s and has come full circle. She milks her own cows, raises chickens, goats, rabbits, turkeys and other animals, and tends five acres and three greenhouses full of fruits and vegetables.

“It’s not a petting zoo here,” Dutro Lujan said. “It’s a sustainable farm.”

Nouveau Farm is a certified Washington state organic farm. It’s one of six farms signed up on the site. Blackberry Forest, Lazy J Tree Farm, Nash’s Organic Produce, Rainbow Farm and Teri Crocket also are selling goods.

Growers are encouraged to sign up whether they sell one or two different products or two or three dozen, Maroney said. A one-time $40 fee is mandatory and can be paid up front or taken out of sales.

Sequim Locally Grown is operated on a weekly schedule. Customers can place orders online Monday and Tuesday. Orders are e-mailed with labels to the farmers, growers and producers at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Farmers, growers and producers then harvest, bag and label orders on Wednesday and Thursday and deliver orders to the central distribution point at 4 p.m. Thursday. Customers can pick up their orders between 4:30-7 p.m. Thursday. Farmers, growers and producers enter the products they have available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and the cycle repeats.

The Sequim Prairie Grange Hall is being considered as the official pick-up and drop-off site. Until a decision is reached, Maroney is using his barn as the distribution center, located at 43 Vine Maple Lane, at the intersection of Kirner and Woodcock roads in Sequim.

Customers pay the farmers’ price for products plus an 8-percent markup to support the market and pay Web site hosting fees. Farmers receive 95 percent of their asking value, with the remaining 5 percent going back into the market.

All products must be organic — that means no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Also, products must be peninsula grown.

“I don’t want somebody getting a truckload of apples from China, making applesauce and selling it,” Maroney said firmly. “If you want to sell applesauce, grow the apples locally,” he said as an example.

“I didn’t just think this would be a good idea, I think it will be required at some point,” Maroney said about the online mercantile. “We’ve lost the agricultural feel of Sequim but we can still get it back. We haven’t had to know our neighbors or community as long as we know how to get to the grocery store but I think it’s a better way of living and that we should re-establish our sense of community and connection to each other.”

Sequim Locally Grown is modeled after online markets in Georgia and Oklahoma.

“I got to looking around and was interested in food co-ops,” Maroney explained. “I ran across a Web site from Oklahoma similar to this and latched onto the idea. They’ve been doing this statewide in Oklahoma for five or six years very successfully.”

While browsing a Georgia-based site, Maroney clicked a link reading, “Use software to establish your own growers market,” and less than 20 minutes later Sequim Locally Grown was born.

For more information, e-mail or call 808-7300.

“The average grocery store item travels 1,015 miles. That’s not sustainable.”

– Sid Maroney

‘Putting your money where your heart is’

Sequim Locally Grown is an online store selling Olympic Peninsula-grown food and products. The idea is to ensure food security by bringing together farmers, growers, producers and consumers. For more information, to make a purchase or to start selling farm fresh products go online to

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