Where: 142 Towne Road
On the web: chisfarm.com
by ALANA LINDEROTH
Years of longing for a farm to call his own has come to an end for Scott Chichester.
“It feels like I am fulfilling a personal dream that has been welling up inside me for a lot of years,” Chichester said smiling and gazing across a plot of freshly turned ground.
Nested among the historical farmlands and fertile soils of Dungeness Valley, Chichester’s farm, Chi’s Farm, consists of five acres along Towne Road. The Dungeness River flows to the farm’s west and the jagged peaks of the Olympic Mountains sprout from the earth’s surface to create the backdrop for farm.
“It (farming) satisfies a curiosity for me,” Chichester said. “I love working outside and you learn something everyday.”
Chichester became involved in organic agriculture more than 15 years ago while working at Nash’s Organic Produce, he said. Despite the demanding nature and long hours associated with farming, he quickly fell in love with the trade and has continued to foster his passion rain or shine.
“I think there are very meaningful livelihoods to be made on small acreage farms … especially with a direct market approach,” Chichester said. “I want to harvest something and hand it directly to the people that are going to eat it.”
Along with a variety of vegetables and perhaps fruit in the future, the farmer/consumer relationship is one Chichester seeks to grow.
To best involve people and connect them with their food, Chichester is promoting “community supported agriculture (CSA),” where families and/or individuals invest in the farm at the beginning of the season in return for weekly shares from the farm’s production.
Shares vary in size and price to fit each member and include a wide variety of vegetables each week. Arugula, basil, beans, bok choi, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, cilantro, cucumbers, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsley, radishes, salad mix, spinach and summer squash are just a few kinds of vegetables Chichester is eager to grow. Additionally, with a greenhouse on site, Chichester anticipates ongoing crops of heirloom tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. “For vegetables, I’ll be growing almost everything that thrives in our climate, but I’ll lean more toward what people tend to like and want,” he said.
CSA members can be assured carrots will be a staple, as Chichester openly admits his ever growing “love affair with carrots.”
Although Chichester and the farm’s gathering and sharing manager Ankur Shah Delight decide which items are included each week based on the harvest, Chichester said members are given opportunity for input and some flexibility to pick what items do or don’t make it into their weekly share.
Shortly following the summer solstice, from June 24 to Nov. 11 Chi’s
Farm shares will be available for pick-up every Wednesday or during appointed farm hours or at a Port Angeles drop point.
To further encourage community participation and to provide a platform for education, wood-fired pizza parties will coincide with share pick up days each Wednesday.
“The weekly pizza parties are a way to bring community together and allow people to connect with the farm, ask questions and provide feedback,” Chichester said.
Room to grow
Reaching beyond being Washington State Department of Agriculture certified organic, Chichester deliberately aims to produce vegetables that also taste good, he said.
Relying on his years of experience in organic agriculture and skills honed within his own greenhouse, Chichester is well-versed at selecting plants that produce tasty results.
In his ongoing pursuit for flavor, Chichester’s “long range vision is to also do plant seed production, breeding and seed sales,” he said.
Although Chichester believes the overall movement and interest in local goods and connection with farmers is great enough to support both the large and small farmers dotting the Dungeness Valley, he also said, most farmers want to create their own niche.
“Eventually I’d like our niche to be more seed production focused,” he said. “The climate here is so unique – it’s perfect for growing seed crops.”
Using his farm as a stage, Chichester hopes to allow those interested in engaging with the land and their food to do so by taking them one step further into the world of seed production.
“I want to give customers the opportunity to weigh in and I can use that information to help grow a variety of seeds and future crops.”
Chi’s Farm 2015 CSA shares are available. For more information, visit www.chisfarm.com or call Chichester at 477-2784.
Reach Alana Linderoth at firstname.lastname@example.org.