Terra Blanca – A Vineyard’s Salmon-Safe Story

Terra Blanca Winery sits atop an arid, treeless slope known as Red Mountain next to the Yakima River in Central Washington. Owners Keith and ReNae Pilgrim, who purchased the vineyard in 1992, sought a third-party certification that highlighted their environmentally responsible practices.  About 10 years ago, they found their perfect fit in Salmon-Safe.

Although they qualified for organic certification, they were concerned that organic wines often go for a lower price point. In the long run, they envisioned a marketing opportunity for their small eco-region, where over 15 wineries are located. The idea is that area vineyards could take advantage of their small appellation by collectively adopting Salmon-Safe practices, benefiting from the marketing resources offered under the eco-label. Keith appreciates the approach, “Stewardship Partners and Salmon-Safe work with farmers, considering where they are at first, to develop a truly workable plan.”

Salmon-Safe also provides a vehicle for Terra Blanca to support a conservation organization that shares its values. “We can ship a bottle across the country and even if the recipient does not know the Salmon-Safe label specifically, they see the logo and know that it was produced in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Farming consciously to minimize harm is what it all boils down to; “Reducing our use of chemicals is convenient – even if the chemical in question is Ivory Soap – Salmon-Safe makes things easier because it fosters a system that causes minimal disruption. Basically, we try to take care of one problem without creating others.” Keith also strategically places plants that pests prefer next to his grapes. Cutworms, for example, prefer mustard over grape vines. “We provide better choices for these insects. It’s like good parenting.”

With the Yakima River just across the road, Terra Blanca is very mindful of all water run-off by containing it in two ponds on the property. Keith, an avid fly-fisherman, always keeps the health of the river in mind.

In terms of soil and water conservation, rigorous application of compost helps retain water and keep dust down in the dry central Washington climate. “Our goal is to put back in to the soil each year what the previous year’s crop had taken out; nitrogen being the primary nutrient we are most often trying to replace.”

To promote biodiversity, the winery cultivates a natural sagebrush habitat between vineyard blocks. “We have healthy populations of chucker and quail, dens of coyotes and some deer that visit in the winter. We work with the resources we have; like using grape skins to keep dust down on the roads. This creates a warm layer that ducks use throughout the winter.”

While this work can be hard, Salmon-Safe farming practices helps Terra Blanca grow grapes that produce flavorful wines they are striving to create while giving back to the land. If you are interested in learning more about Salmon-Safe vineyards and farming practices, please contact Amelia at ab@stewardshippartners.org. To learn more about Terra Blanca, please contact Jordan Neuhaus at jneuhaus@terrablanca.com.

Community Connections – Stewardship Never Tasted so Good

We’ve had a great time collaborating with local retailers and restaurants over the last couple of months. Our Salmon-Safe rural program provides a perfect vehicle to bring sustainability right to the table where people can support conservation while they eat, shop and imbibe.  Recently, local gelato maker Gelatiamo, who always uses Salmon-Safe certified Fresh Breeze Dairy milk and seasonally uses Salmon-Safe certified Tonnemakers Farms fruit donated 20% of the day’s proceeds on March 31st to support our work. On April 5th, Whole Foods in Chambers Bay, who carries several Salmon -Safe products including Wilcox Farms eggs, Finnriver Cider and Hopworks beer, donated 5% of the day’s sales, while two Seattle beer and cider establishments The Peddler and The Noble Fir donated a portion of sales from each pint sold for a day and provided space for us to educate customers about how we all can take steps to improve the health of our communities and Puget Sound.

We love working with our partners to support our Salmon-Safe farmers and all of our hands-on conservation programs!

Welcome Samantha Neukom to the Stewardship Board of Directors

Welcome Samantha Neukom: Sam Neukom is the Chief Strategy Officer for Northbound, where she provides clients a unique depth of experience, perspective and process insights. From east-coast big agency to west coast boutique, Sam has honed her craft to a laser focus. For more than 17 years she has contributed to a wide variety of businesses such as Starwood Hotels, Bank of the West, P&G, Snapple, Odwalla, Tanqueray, Microsoft, Redfin, Pfizer, Tylenol, Lenscrafters, Apptio, NetApp, Thomson Reuters, and Kaiser Permanente.  Sam developed the City Habitats brand and volunteers with her daughter Poppy at volunteer projects on farms along the Snoqualmie River.

The New Arbor Blocks Development is Positively Woonerful

Arbor Blocks boasts the world’s first Salmon-Safe certified woonerf. Through its incorporation of green roofs, bioretention planters, and water efficient irrigation, this project creatively displays Salmon-Safe’s philosophy of encouraging low-impact practices that go beyond environmental regulations.  Located on 8th Avenue North, between Thomas and Harrison Streets; Vulcan’s new Arbor Blocks Development will be home to Facebook’s Seattle office. The project consists of two 6-story commercial midrise structures totaling 384,000 s.f. of office space and 4100 s.f. of street level retail space.  The two buildings feature increased setbacks to preserve light and air for the existing sweet gum tree canopy being preserved along 8th avenue North. What is now a standard  street will be converted into a pedestrian-friendly woonerf with a specialty paving pattern and widened sidewalks. Plantings, seating and artwork will be added to the project to incorporate a community gathering space.

The 8th Ave N woonerf will include approximately a dozen planting areas ranging from 100 to 2,000 sf. Together with the green roofs, these planting areas represent a sizable increase in urban habitat and natural public space compared to existing conditions. Several large existing trees, primarily sweet gum, will remain and be surrounded by porous pavement for additional stormwater management.

The project is designed by Graphite Architects and Hewitt Landscape Architects. The general contractor is Lease Crutcher Lewis, a Salmon-Safe Accredited Construction firm. Construction on the new buildings began at the end of 2016. Facebook will move into the development in the fall of 2018. In addition to the site achieving Salmon-Safe certification the buildings will be targeting LEED Gold certification as well.

Rendering courtesy of Graphite Design

 

What is a Woonerf? A woonerf is a Dutch term for a living street. Woonerfs include shared space for pedestrian, auto and bike friendly users. The corridors are designed with traffic calming strategies and low speed limits.  The term “woonerf” has been adopted in the U.S., typically referring to complete streets where equal priority is given to all modes of transportation including automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians.  The word, of Dutch origin, literally translates as “living yard” or “residential grounds”.

 

A Series of Firsts at Full Circle

The first time one stands by the historic farmhouse at Full Circle Farms and looks out into the fields you are sure to be moved by the vast landscape. Fields of organic produce appear to be endless beneath an expansive sky. The Snoqualmie River hugs the property as it meanders around a bend creating a peninsula of fertile soil. The river and its tributaries that run through the farm, namely Griffin Creek, play host to habitat for spawning salmon and provides homes to many other riparian wildlife species. There is a sense of connectivity and of urgency among those most familiar with this land. Owners Andrew Stout and his wife Wendy Munroe recognized this and became early innovators of incorporating conservation into their sustainable farming practices. Today, their Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program serves thousands throughout the Puget Sound region; expanded significantly from a 5-acre plot of land that they started with in 1996.

Stewardship Partners forged our relationship with Full Circle in the early 2000’s, creating a series of “firsts” for both the organization and farm. Now, nearly two decades later these firsts are coming full circle. In 2002 Full Circle Farm became one of the first properties in the Snoqualmie Valley that Stewardship Partners joined with to restore fish and wildlife habitat. Shortly after, in 2004, Full Circle Farm was one of the first agricultural properties to become Salmon-Safe certified in the Snoqualmie Valley.

In 2009, our concept of the Adopt-a-Buffer program was hatched on the farm. The Snoqualmie Stewardship team and volunteers from Starbucks began working on what became the “Starbucks Buffer.” Today, the buffer thrives with a diverse collection of native plants and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. Many of the original volunteers are still engaged in the project.

While restoration and Salmon-Safe practices progressed over the years, the farm hosted the first Feast on the Farm fundraiser in 2010. The fundraiser is essential in teaching our supporters about our programs and partners. It provides a platform to raise funds as we demonstrate the intersections of our work. We learned a lot from that first event and now Feast on the Farm has become the premier farm dinner in the country.

In 2014, we reconnected with Starbucks to maintain the Starbucks Buffer and to prepare to launch the Adopt-a-Buffer program in 2015. From there, we began enrolling farms, volunteers and corporate sponsors. In early 2016, Campbell Global became the first to officially sponsor a buffer at Full Circle Farms.

Efforts at Full Circle Farm continue today.  We are planning our 2017 signature Earth Day volunteer event onsite with volunteers from all over the Snoqualmie Valley and the Metropolitan Seattle area. This group will work with us to improve fish and wildlife habitat at Full Circle Farm

We are now circling back by hosting our 2017 Feast on the Farm on July 20th., an opportunity to celebrate Stewardship Partners, Full Circle Farm and the culmination of all these firsts. We are sure that Full Circle Farm will stay the course and deliver yet another magical experience in the Snoqualmie Valley