Update: Lopez Lamb, Wool, and Goat Festival!

The Lopez Lamb, Wool, and Goat Festival, Saturday, May 12th, is less than a week away and the weather forecast is for a beautiful day.  I’ve just heard from the festival organizers with these updates on events to enjoy throughout the day:

• The Art of Meat-cutting with Russell Flint from Rain Shadow Meats in Seattle will take place on the south patio at about 11 a.m. and again in the mid-afternoon

• Making Cheese in the Home Kitchen:  Mozzarella with Teri Linneman, Lopez master cheese-maker, will take place in the meeting room between noon and 1 pm

• Back-packing with Goats with Bruce Dunlop and Debbie Young will take place outside in the early afternoon

• Sheep-shearing, sheep dog demonstrations, displays of fiber and dairy goats and various breeds of sheep (along with their kids and lambs) will take place throughout the day

• Scavenger hunt for kids between the ages of 5 and 12 (more or less) will happen between 11 am and 1 pm; check in with Jennifer Armstrong at her felting and fiber arts booth (Quirk Farm Art) at 11 am

•  Hands-on demonstrations of carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving on different types of looms, and felting will be happening throughout the day inside the Community Center

• Lopez Farm-to-School Program students will sell of seed packets and tomato starts

• Food options available during the day:  Donna will be firing up her cob oven and providing pizza in new and delicious ways, including a dessert pizza; Grant Silvey will be there with his hand-ground corn quesadillas; Nella Burt, at the Soda Fountain across the road, will be grilling lamb burgers; the 4-H Goat Club will have a variety of natural juices and other beverages available.

• Food option for a lovely dinner: there are a few tickets left for Christina Orchid’s dinner featuring Lopez Lamb and organic produce.

• Stay tuned to this linked web page for a specific schedule of events, including the time of the sheep drive through the village on Friday, May 11th.  And read more about the Festival in this post: https://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/lopez-lamb-wool-and-goat-festival/

Lopez Lamb, Wool, and Goat Festival

For several weeks in early spring, the fields around my kitchen garden are home to a flock of sheep.  They are a mixed group, some raised for meat that the farmer sells locally and to Seattle restaurants and others raised for their fleece that the farmer’s wife and other spinners, weavers and knitters value.  The sheep stay a week or two until they’ve nibbled down the newly sprouted grasses in our fields, and then the farmer and his dogs move them on to neighbors’ fields.  In other pastures around the island, baby lambs stay close to their mothers or jump and frolic across the grass.  And in barns and farmyards, freshly shorn Romney, Coopworth, Icelandic and Navajo Churro sheep look around uncertainly, just released from the shearer and the fleece that coated them all winter, lovely fleece destined for yarn, rugs, blankets and all kinds of clothing.

The bounty and beauty of Lopez lamb and wool is something I’ve admired each spring, feeling fortunate to have friends and neighbors who put such effort into raising sheep for meat and gorgeous fleece and for keeping agriculture vibrant on the island.  Who knew these hard working farmers and fiber artists also had the energy to organize their labors into a festival so others can enjoy what I see each spring!  But last year they did, offering the first Lopez Lamb and Wool Festival, complete with a sheep drive into the village, sheep dogs, baby lambs to pat, shearing, spinning and weaving demonstrations and a lamb dinner.  The day was such a success that they are doing it again this year.   And they’ve invited goats!

This year, fiber and diary goats, and even pack goats, will join the sheep for a day at the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts.  There will be demonstrations and hands-on instruction on spinning and weaving, and vendors will offer lamb and wool related items.  Orcas Island chef Christina Orchid will prepare the lamb dinner this year using Lopez lamb and local organic produce and offering side dishes for vegetarians.  There will be an auction of Lopez grown and made woolen items and as was the case last year, all proceeds from the dinner and auction will benefit the Lopez Farm-to-School program to encourage future generations of farmers.  This year’s festival sponsors are Island Fibers (http://www.islandfibers.com/), Saddleback Sheep Ranch, and the Agricultural Resources Committee of San Juan County (ARC).

Check out this poster for more details and come if you can.  It will be great!

And to read more about Lopez Island sheep farmers and fiber artists, go to:https://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/navajo-churro-sheep-on-lopez/, https://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/dawn-ritchie’s-beautiful-sheep/ and https://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/island-fibers-a-slow-fiber-experience/

Portland, Oregon Farmers Market

I get a lot of pleasure from going to the garden, filling a basket with vegetables and carrying it back to the kitchen. The colors, textures, shapes, and sizes of this abundance create a vegetable still life, inspiring both in its beauty and in the cooking and eating possibilities it suggests.

This kind of pleasure is multiplied many times over by a walk through a farmers’ market.  Last weekend we were in Portland, Oregon and went to the Saturday market downtown.  It’s one of our favorite farmers’ markets and a highlight of a visit to Portland.  The city park setting with its green lawns, tall trees and rows of farmer’s stalls spilling out gorgeous, fresh produce always makes me think that if I lived here and didn’t have a garden I’d still be fine.

I would face the dilemma that Portland market shoppers face at this time of year though, as the summer produce is winding down and fall and winter crops are coming in.  Do I stand in line for late summer vegetables and make one last batch of caponata?  Eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are still on offer.

Or do I join the lines for fall carrots, beets, celery root, parsnips and sweet potatoes and make the first batch of roasted roots?

Either choice would match perfectly with beans.  What a treat to find fresh shell beans at the Viridian Farms stall.  As their website http://www.viridianfarms.com/ explains, they seek out heirloom seeds from southern Europe.  The purple beans are Alubias de Tolosa, a Basque bean.  The white beans are Haricots Tarbais grown in southwest France and used for cassoulet.  And the beans still in the pod are Fabes Asturianas, so large that the Viridian Farm’s shelling machine can’t handle them; you have to shell them by hand.  They are the base for a classic Spanish bean, pork and sausage stew.  I could be a grateful, regular customer here and at all the other stands.

If Scott’s photos haven’t already shown you why we like this market so much, take a look at the Portland Farmers’ Market website to learn more about the farmers: http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/markets/psu/.  It conveys the scope of this market and the Interactive Market Map gives a brief biography of each farm.  Click on it to find stories of the people who grow these vegetables with such care and pride.

If you don’t have a garden, a farmer’s market is a perfect alternative and a very tempting one even for those of us who garden.