Showcasing the community of Key Peninsula farmers, the 10th annual Key Peninsula Farm Tour returns Saturday (Oct. 1) to celebrate a decade of farm life celebration with both new sites and favorite farm stops.
New to the Farm Tour this year is YMCA Camp Seymour, showcasing its Living Machine and farm and garden programs offered at the camp.
The Living Machine has been a popular attraction at the camp since it was installed in 2003, said Scott Gjertson, director of the camp’s Outdoor Environmental Education program.
“We’re excited to see how (the Farm Tour) goes and have people come out and see what we’re doing up here and what our programs are,” he said. “I hope we can raise awareness that we serve over 13,000 people year-round and serve the community.”
The Living Machine is a sustainable ecological sewage treatment method that treats wastewater using bacteria, plant life, natural filters and ultraviolet sterilization to clean the water for reuse in the camp’s drip irrigation system and, in the future, for water in facility toilets.
An educational pond at the farm demonstrates the cleanliness of the treated water by showing its use to support aquatic plants, fish and other aquatic life.
“We wanted to make sure we were treating our wastewater sustainably as we grew,” Gjertson said. “People were really excited to support this. People came out of the woodwork to support this.”
We’re excited to see how (the Farm Tour) goes and have people come out and see what we’re doing up here and what our programs are. I hope we can raise awareness that we serve over 13,000 people year round and serve the community.
Scott Gjertson, Outdoor Environmental Education director for YMCA Camp Seymour
The Living Machine served as a springboard for other educational models to teach camp visitors about sustainable energy and gardening practices. Other teaching tools for the camp’s farm and garden programs include gardens, a solar panel and a chicken coop made from a repurposed water tower that features a living roof made of vegetation.
The camp just received grant funding to expand this programming to include more gardens, cooking and education, a teaching kitchen and hydroponic gardening.
“One of the big points or objectives of the class is to get kids to be aware of how important water is, and (especially) clean water,” Gjertson said. “This grant is going to take (our programming) to the next level. We’re excited to expand our curriculum.”
Joining the Farm Tour this year was part of Camp Seymour’s plan to further participate in the Key Peninsula community, said Diane Jackson, marketing and development director for the camp.
“We are here in the community and we’ve seen (the Farm Tour) happening around us for the last few years and it’s been something that we’ve wanted to be a part of,” she said. “We’re excited to meet some new people and share what we do here.”
The people and community on the Key Peninsula is the biggest draw for Tracy Ketts, Farm Tour president and owner of Blue Willow Lavender Farm.
It’s a little hard. You walk around and remember everything you’ve done and the people you’ve met. That’s what really means the most to me are the people who’ve come to the farm and the relationships we’ve built over the years in the community.
Tracy Ketts, owner of Blue Willow Lavender Farm
That community connection is also what she’ll miss the most when she finishes up the tour this year, her last before closing her lavender farm and moving to California.
“It’s a little hard. You walk around and remember everything you’ve done and the people you’ve met,” she said. “That’s what really means the most to me — the people who’ve come to the farm and the relationships we’ve built over the years in the community.”
Blue Willow Lavender Farm will serve as the event headquarters for the tour and will feature a host of activities for the whole family, including a Barbie lavender hospital, a carved pumpkin wall, educational booths, animals and Rib Ticklers BBQ.
Additionally, there’s a small amount of u-pick lavender still available and prices on the farm’s products will be drastically reduced for a quick sale.
“This is the last year if you want to say goodbye and get some great products from Blue Willow Lavender Farm,” Ketts said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Other stops on the tour take visitors through the Key Peninsula, from Key Pen Park’s Gateway Park to Kaukiki Ranch in Longbranch.
Gateway Park will serve as the event’s information center, offering programs and directions as well as activities such as Pierce County Master Gardeners, kids crafts and a hayride.
Four Winds Riding Center will feature horse vaulting demonstrations every hour, Bea’s Flowers will have food, music and a petting zoo and Minterbrook Oyster Farm will give tours of their oyster nurseries and facility, along with shoreline activities and art projects.
The Firehouse Pancake Breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. and run until about noon at the Key Center Fire Station and will also feature demonstrations from the fire department and a bake sale.
For canine lovers, Packleader Farm will showcase working dogs in herding demonstrations, educational information and the All Breed Herding Club of Western Washington. Animal activities will abound at Kaukiki Ranch, a sustainable grass-fed beef and sheep farm that will offer animal interactions, information, working dog demonstrations, a Clydesdale visit and a farm store.
Our goal (at the Fiber Arts Show) is to show the gamut from historical to modern techniques, from utilitarian to artistic techniques. We try to cover all the bases.
Carolyn Wiley, creator of the Fiber Arts Show
Trillium Winery in Home also serves as a stop on the Farm Tour, continuing its decade of participation since launching the tour in 2006.
Winery owners Claude and Claudia Gahard will offer tours and wine tasting for adults, along with bottles of wine for sale.
Returning for it’s ninth year on the Farm Tour, the Fiber Arts Show will be featured at the Longbranch Improvement Club, offering house-made soups and “Peg’s World Famous Apple Crisp.”
The goal of the Fiber Arts Show is to showcase the range of techniques used by fiber artists, said Carolyn Wiley, creator of the show.
“Our goal is to show the gamut from historical to modern techniques, from utilitarian to artistic techniques,” Wiley said. “We try to cover all the bases.”
This year’s featured artist is Squire Brooms, makers of Shaker-style brooms, who will be demonstrating their work during the tour.
Other artists include wood carvers, quilters, knitters, spinners and more, all featured in the Fiber Arts Show on the Farm Tour.
“We focus on local people first and then we expand our range to Puget Sound, primarily, and then beyond,” Wiley said. “We want to keep this a free educational event.”
The 10th annual Key Peninsula Farm Tour is a free, family friendly event that will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 1). For more information, visit kpfarmtour.com.