North Bank Magazine

Deda’s Bakery goes mobile

 photos by mary preiser potts

It’s not everyday that someone swoops in to fund your dreams. Utilizing a Kickstarter campaign, a passion for sweets and their personal warmth, Chris and Catherine Misener of Deda’s Bakery sold their baked goods at community events all over Vancouver last summer. They bake out of a shared commercial kitchen with primarily wholesale and custom orders. But, their short-term goal is to buy a mobile bakery and go direct.

It was difficult to reach enough people making modest donations to make the mobile bakery a reality. The Miseners prepared to re-launch the campaign with new ideas when something completely unexpected happened. Someone – the Miseners are not saying who or how – came forward and offered to fund the food cart.

“Kickstarter is such a cool concept,” Catherine said. “It’s a fantastic way for people to see what’s going on – or what might go on – in their community. And when you back a project, you’re contributing to making someone’s dreams come true, and that also strengthens the community.”

My first taste of Deda’s baked goods was at a picnic table outside of Torque Coffee during a Drink This! event. I love baked goods, especially when they’re sweet without tasting sugary. In the case of the porter cupcake I tasted the rich flavors of the beer as well as the subtle spices in the cake, and the frosting was more cream than sugar, just how I like it. The other items I tried followed suit. The hand pie was apple first, then cinnamon-sweetness. The crust was light and textural. Even the whoopie pies exhibited an uncharacteristic complexity of flavors.

The Miseners relocated to Vancouver from Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2009. They brought Deda’s Bakery with them, but they didn’t immediately open a storefront when they arrived. Instead they rented space in a commercial kitchen and rounded up as many wholesale accounts as they could manage, as well as taking custom orders.

In August they participated in the Vancouver Brewfest, where beer from Heathen Brewing and Mt. Tabor Brewing found its way into their baking in honor of the event. But the treats – brewballs and porter cupcakes among them – were such a hit that they may earn a permanent spot on Deda’s menu.

“I was surprised how much I enjoyed incorporating various microbrews into our treats. I didn’t expect the subtle flavors of malt, hops, coffee, caramel and such to come through so well,” Catherine said.

They both agree that one of the best things about having a bakery is getting to connect with people in their community. This is something they’ve missed about not having a storefront. But, the experience of serving people in many different locations instead of being rooted to one bakery in one neighborhood was appealing to them. There, the idea of the mobile bakery was born.

Soon, they’ll be cruising Vancouver with their bakery trailer, and adding a cafe menu to their sweet offerings. Twitter will guide customers to their current location. In five years? They hope to also open a storefront in downtown.


Deda’s Bakery

Chris & Catherine Misener



Herbal essence

Simple holiday gifts from the backyard

photo by erin harwood

The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! For some this inspires a flurry of creativity, for others it inspires a feeling of anxiety. Gifts to give, goodies to bake, how’s a busy person supposed to get it all done? It is possible to enjoy the holidays, celebrate the season whatever your heritage, and also be in the moment with your family. Keeping it simple and sustainable, here are a couple of clever and undemanding things you can do this upcoming season to share the love and joy that the holidays are really about.

During the holidays, gifts are commonly exchanged. Coworkers, in-laws and other relatives, hitting the stores…it can definitely be overwhelming. What you need is a recipe for a simple gift you can make from ingredients you likely have in your kitchen.

Herbal body scrub

Take one cup of fine sugar or sea salt, mix in 1/2 cup of olive, almond or apricot oil, 1/4 cup of honey, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 10 drops of any essential oil (orange, mint, or lavender would be lovely). Place in a simple glass jar with a handwritten label. This will make a lovely gift, especially paired with a fair trade chocolate bar purchased from the outstanding Neighbors Market in Vancouver’s Uptown Village.

Herbal cooking salt

Add chopped herbs to sea salt for a simple gift for someone who likes to cook. Chop dried herbs, about two tablespoons, and layer with one cup of salt in a small jar. These herb infused salts are beautiful to display and also functional as they add wonderful, fresh flavor to dishes.

Herbal centerpiece

Your backyard or kitchen herb garden along with our regional trails can provide simple and fragrant decorations, too. Gather sage, rose hips, rosemary or thyme and tie around a candle with a ribbon or loosely arrange around the base of a candle inside a shallow decorative bowl. As they dry they will gently scent the air of your table and even help deter pests.

Holiday decor

Take rosemary or winter savory stems, and carefully bend into a small circle, tie with a ribbon and hang up to bring in a bit of the outdoors to decorate your home for the holidays.

Or, buy it the right way

In lieu of a homemade gift, purchase gifts made in others’ homes. A great event to stop by, which has an outstanding selection of sustainable, locally made gifts, is the Check ‘Em Off Green event, set this year for Saturday Dec. 14 at the Marshall Center in Vancouver. Simple, sustainable, and in the moment is the key for an outstanding herbal holiday.

Erin Harwood is one half of the dynamic herbal duo at Garden Delights, a mother-daughter operation based on five acres in Brush Prairie. They specialize in a wide variety of herbal products for people and pets along with fresh produce offered through their CSA. Everything is grown with care and thoughtfulness in partnership with Mother Nature and without chemicals. You can find them at the annual Farm Gals Holiday Market the first weekend of December at Half Moon Farms in Brush Prairie. 

Plant this: Lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Capitada (head lettuce), crispa (leaf lettuce), longifolia (Romaine)

Start seeds in February for earliest transplanting

Ready to harvest in 45 to 55 days

Lettuce is easy to grow, and available in color variations from deep green to dark red and combinations of both. It takes up very little room and makes an ideal container plant.

Soil should be well-drained and should contain lots of organic matter. Lettuce thrives in cool conditions. Optimum soil temperature for lettuce is 55° to 70°F. Seeds will not germinate in soil temperatures above 85°F.

Start indoors in seed trays or peat pots in late winter a few weeks before final frost. Keep seeds and lettuce plants evenly moist to prevent tip burn. Leaf lettuce may be selectively handpicked from the outside of the plant for continuous harvest.

Slugs can be a problem; hand-pick them off the lettuce.

Plant This courtesy of Anne Lawrence, owner of local CSA, Storytree Farm. Please visit


Usually, the items in this space are local, but I couldn’t resist this, since the kind folks of Georgia sent it straight to my desk, our feature is winter play, and our Excursion story is about a campground. Enviro-Log is a firelog made entirely of food grade “waxed old corrugated cardboard” (wocc), making the company the largest recycler of this material. These firelogs do not have any added chemicals or petroleum, so they are safe for campfires and chimneys alike. They burn up to three hours and produce less smoke than wood. I will admit, I haven’t tried it out, since I want to save it for a little later in the season. But if you have, let us know – we’d love to post your review!

The Photography Issue

We flashmobbed Dan. We had to.

I had arranged for five photographers to meet on a sunny weekend afternoon and shoot up some rolls. But Daniel Wickwire, he couldn’t make it. He was engaged in the (admittedly) nobler pursuit of keeping Gallery 360’s doors open for the afternoon. I tried to convince him to come – no go, no how – and then warned him we might have to pop in.

When Julian Nelson, Kelly Keigwin, Sam MacKenzie and Trevor Warren showed up at Torque Coffee cameras in hand, game to engage in an afternoon of they-didn’t-really-know-what, it was agreed immediately – we’d mob Dan at 360. So the photographers lugged all their equipment a few blocks north, and lit up Ninth Street for an hour. Dan was a great sport, and not surprisingly, we got our absolutely perfect cover shot of fellow shooter, Julian Nelson, setting up the shot you see here on this page. Trevor nabbed headshots of Kelly, Sam, Dan and Julian, and Sam shot the cameras themselves, who, let’s face it, are the stars of this show.

Damn the limits of print, but for more from our shoot, our photographers, and some quotes from a beautiful group interview we did on photography and the art of living, check out our blog, The Photography Issue, at

Jessica Swanson, editor

Sam MacKenzie mugSam MacKenzie

Sam MacKenzie is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, farmer, and lifelong Vancouver resident. She began working in darkroom photography while pursuing a media studies degree at Scripps College and later earned a post-baccalaureate in photography at Oregon College of Art and Craft. MacKenzie has a particular love for the darkroom, alternative processes, and low-tech cameras. One of her favorite alternative processes is the albumen print, a hand-coated paper. MacKenzie mixes her own albumen solution from eggs from her chickens. Sam was a member of Sixth Street Gallery and served as president of its parent non-profit MOSAIC Arts Alliance for three-and-a-half years. Her photograph Harvest was the promotional image for Clark County Historical Museum's Sustaining Change on the American Farm exhibit, and she was the graphic design artist for the Boomer! exhibit. She is currently working on a collaborative art project with her wife, Kelly Keigwin, called Love is a Radical Act.


Trevor WarrenTrevor Warren

Trevor Warren is a second generation photographer who grew up in Vancouver’s Lincoln Neighborhood. His first job was delivering newspapers at the age of 12, and now Warren has a studio just blocks away from his old paper route. Warren began his photography career photographing fashion and beauty but in recent years has become passionate about portraiture. Warren employs some of the abstract and creative techniques he learned shooting fashion to his portraiture creating truly unique images of everyday people and children.

George Hope

Julian Nelson Julian Nelson

A native of Hannover, Julian is professor of German and the director of the German Studies Program in Berlin, Germany, at Clark College. Julian has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and some of his academic interests are World Literature, Philosophy, Modernist Aesthetics, Contemporary Theory, the Weimar Republic, and advertisement and popular culture.

Other interests include a passion for travel, fencing and traditional, large format, black and white photography with a particular emphasis on portraiture. Julian has had a life-long love of photography in all its forms, but prefers the medium of traditional, analogue film. His camera of choice is a 4×5 Linhof Technika III from 1952 with an assortment of vintage lenses. He develops all of his silver gelatin prints on fiber paper in his darkroom.

Julian lives in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, daughter, two cats and Penelope, his adopted dog.

Jamie SuckowJamie Suckow
Facebook: Jamie Suckow Photography

One of twelve children, Jamie Suckow was born and raised in the Vancouver area.

She juggled working at Sargo's, Rocky's Pizza and Battle Ground City Hall before marrying her wonderful husband, Dan, in 2004, and moving on to work full-time for the Vancouver Public Library. In 2006, the couple decided to start a family of their own.

Suckow now subs, on occasion, for the library system, but children have become her world and leave little time for much else. Feeling that her artistic side was put on the back burner after children, she picked up a camera, found she had an eye for photography and a new love ensued.She still considers herself a freelance/hobbyist photographer, but does make herself available when somebody calls upon her services. She loves to capture the expression in a child's face, the soft glow of an expecting mother, the joy of family and the beauty of nature.

Posing girl

Kelly KeigwinKelly Keigwin

Kelly Keigwin is a professional artist and instructor who lives in Vancouver. She works in photography, mixed media collage, and ceramics. In addition to using film and digital cameras, she often utilizes found imagery, text, paint and recycled materials in her work. Her most recent works include I Am Woman, a collaborative work with Vancouver artist Sam MacKenzie, The Things We Carry, a collaborative work with Portland artist Chris Haberman, and The Real Americans. Keigwin has been published in Juxtapoz magazine and is represented in private collections in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. She is exhibited nationally and holds a B.A. from Washington State University.

Keigwin currently is an instructor at Oregon College of Art and Craft, teaching Digital Photography Essentials (Grades 9-12) and Intro to Digital Photography for adults. She also is a blogger for PQ Monthly, the co-chair of Equality SW Washington’s Queer Art Project, and co-founder of Love is a Radical Act, an interactive art project. Keigwin also created Fear is a 4-Letter Word, an on-going blog/zine project that offers support and positive reinforcement in what can be a negative and lonely world.

Green Chair

Daniel WickwireDaniel Wickwire

Daniel Wickwire creates his art through photography. His early work was dominated by quiet mono color landscapes. This slowly evolved to include a more personal focus. His style has been described as emotive and sometimes melancholic. He often gravitates to these themes and believes that this flows from his “inner workings” and his processing of the information rich world around him. In recent years he has created strong portraits of interesting individuals. He seeks out opportunities to experience uniqueness, vulnerability, strength, wisdom, relationship… all of the wonderful qualities that we possess as fellow human beings. Wickwire lives and photographs in Vancouver.


Get Fresh!

Summer Steenbarger of Dee Creek Farm, Anne Lawrence of Storytree Farm and Erin Harwood of Garden Delights CSA and Herb Farm are holding their second F.A.R.M. (Farm Advocates Regionally Meet) event on June 21. Last October, the local farmers held their first annual Stocking Up event, where folks could purchase months worth of food for preserving from several different sources and make farmer connections.

On this year’s Summer Solstice, the trio is hosting Get Fresh with your F.A.R.M, an event where people can bring their home-canned goods for swapping with others to refresh the pantry and make room for this year’s harvest.

The canning swap is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and a Washington State University Master Food Preserver will be on hand to test your pressure canner for the season. From 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., there will be a workshop on “old school preserving” including fermenting, oil-sealing, drying and so on.

There will be a resource table for learning about local farms and possibly bonus glassware to take home.

This event is free and open to the public. Donations accepted. Location to be announced soon. Check for more information, or email

Plant This – Fava Beans

Fava Beans (Broad bean, Windsor bean)

Fava Beans

Vicia faba, variety major

Plant late winter, early spring

Well-drained soil

1-2 inches deep, 8” apart.

Used for centuries in the Middle East and Europe, this early season vegetable is gaining fans among health-conscious gardeners and eaters in the U.S. Harvested green, favas are shelled, boiled and served as a vegetable or roasted for a nutritious snack. Harvested after beans have dried, favas can be ground into a flour to make falafel.

Like peas, fava beans prefer cool, mild weather. Sow between February and March, when soil temp is at least 40 degrees. Windsor is an excellent variety with 5-6” pods containing three to five large, green shell beans. Planting in double rows will help support the large leafy plants. Harvest pods about 80 days after germination.

Many varieties of fava are used as an excellent cover crop for pulling nitrogen from the air and fixing it into the soil, adding biomass, etc.

One cup cooked fava beans contains 187 calories, 13g protein, 33g carbohydrate, 9g fiber, 1g fat.

Plant This is provided courtesy of Anne Lawrence at Storytree Farm.

A Green Thing-EcoMopeds



2416 Main St., Vancouver

Ever wondered what those nifty transports are next to the Starbucks sidewalk seating in Uptown Village? They are EcoMopeds, an alternative for commuters that is essentially a battery-powered bicycle. Two new models are available, and the bikes start at $699. They charge like a laptop – just plug into the wall and leave it alone for six to eight hours if it is completely depleted. The bikes do have pedals, so no license or insurance is required. A battery charge can last up to 62 miles, and a battery can last up to 350 charge cycles. All profits from sales of the bikes benefit Arnada Abbey, a local interfaith community.

Home on the Ranch

La Center homestead offers organic vegetables and place to lay your head

photo by jessica swanson

Coyote Ranch garden in La Center Washington

If anyone leads a green life, it’s Val Alexander and Kelly Lindgren, her boyfriend of 29 years. Alexander is the owner of Coyote Ridge Ranch, a family homestead that has become a gathering place for organic food enthusiasts, environmentalists, Native Americans and travelers-through.

Alexander bought her first 11 acres outside of La Center in 1964. Her husband had been a horse jockey and they traveled from place to place. When they started having kids, Alexander decided it was time to settle down. Later, Alexander added 49 more adjacent acres and then another 14.

Today, the property is home to several playfully named dwelling places, including the Lodge, Mary’s Chalet, the Treehouse and the Office. Her daughter lives in a house with her husband and children. Juan Vidal, the ranch’s manager, and his wife Laticia live on the property with their children. A small cabin built in the 1930s referred to as the Last Outpost sits at the very northern edge of the property and is inhabited by a renter.

The lion’s share of property is wooded, but the heart of it is about an acre of organic gardens featuring every kind of vegetable – many in unique raised beds – and several mini orchards situated around the space, as well as flower beds and two greenhouses. Coyote Ridge Ranch has a sparkling clean and organized u-pick station with a sink, scales, knives and so on to accommodate the farm’s customers. Eggs are often available from the resident chickens.

Alexander and Lindgren host harvest dinners in the long greenhouse, and this fall they are hosting visitors of the Grande Ronde tribe, who will canoe up the river and be transported to the Ranch. Alexander is a default member of the tribe, but descends from Cascade Chinook and Yakima. There are Native American symbols, memorabilia and photographs around the Ranch’s buildings.

Alexander opens her doors to like minded individuals for gatherings and stays. The couple has a special place in their hearts for environmentalists and green living, as evidenced in the unique features, furniture and decorations throughout their home. The front door of the Lodge came from the Department of Transportation building off of Main Street in Vancouver via the ReBuilding Center in Portland, as were many other pieces throughout the buildings. Antiques are around every corner, and every item has its own living story.

Earth Mama Angel Baby Products

Earth Mama Angel Baby products were developed by a Clackamas-based nurse that noticed many of the products her patients were using were not only not safe and natural, but were not even benefitting the mamas and babies using them. The Earth Mama line includes organic and sustainable products for pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, babies and families. Most recently, the company has added a line of product and support materials to help parents deal with the loss of a child. Many of these products can be found at central Vancouver boutique and parent-baby wellness center Santé Mama.

Sante Mama products

Found at Santé Mama

113 N.E. 92nd Ave., Vancouver


A Green Thing:Reusable snack and sandwich bags

BugBaby Designs


Made in Washougal, these reusable snack and sandwich bags by BugBaby Designs are totally adorable and totally practical at the same time. The snack bags are the perfect size for a fat single serving, and the sandwich bags even fit a double decker. The bags are made with a 100 percent cotton print lined with waterproof polyurethane-lined knit, which keeps the outside of the bag clean and dry, and your sandwich or snack fresh. The flap closure is secured with Velcro. With these cutie-pie sacks, it’s almost fun to pack a lunch. Handmade Moses baskets are also available from BugBaby Designs, as well as custom bedding.

Affordable, healthy homes

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Econstruction NW aspires to build houses real people can feel good about

Story by Mary Preiser Potts

Econstruction NW owner Richard Haig has been involved in green construction for 30 years. He lived in Santa Cruz during the 1970s gas crunch when energy efficient housing made its debut. It was there that he got his start in passive solar construction. A Pacific Northwest native, Haig eventually returned and four years ago Econstruction NW was born.

Because green building is often associated with exorbitant prices, Haig hopes to expose people to the concept that affordable, energy efficient and healthier homes are within reach. For Econstruction NW, this also means building smaller homes under 2,000 square feet.

“We’re not building ‘McMansions,’” Haig said.

Many of Haig’s new houses implement SIPs technology. SIPs, or Structural Insulated Panels, are made of two OSB (oriented strand board) panels sandwiched around a layer of expanded polystyrene and are used in place of lumber.

SIPs have been on the market for 40 years, but their popularity is largely overshadowed by the higher cost. While it’s true that SIPs construction adds about 10 percent more to the cost of materials, according to Haig, it actually saves on labor costs because the oversized panels are so easy to install.

An advantage of using SIPs over lumber is that they are more air-tight and energy efficient, eliminating the thermal breaks that typically occur at the wall studs of a house. There is also less material waste because SIPs are custom-made in a factory to specifications.

Because interior air quality becomes a factor when creating airtight housing envelopes, SIPs houses built by Econstruction NW are equipped with a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). The HRV unit swaps indoor air for fresh, outside air while retaining the indoor air temperature. The unit also keeps the relative indoor humidity around 50 percent, thus inhibiting the growth of molds, mites and other indoor polluters.

SIPs designer, Patrick Sughrue of Structures NW in Vancouver, says that HRVs are a standard part of the building envelope packages he provides for green builders like Econstruction NW.

Because of the health and environmental hazards of fiberglass, some insulation alternatives used by Econstruction NW are rockwool, denim batt and sprayed foam insulations. Rockwool is made from minerals, heated to extreme temperatures, then spun like cotton candy to form a mass of fibers. Haig uses rockwool as a sound barrier for interior walls. Denim bat insulation is made from recycled materials, usually jeans, and provides a sound and heat barrier for both interior and exterior walls. Floors are insulated with sprayed closed cell foam insulation, which is noted for its superior insulating properties as well as the interior air quality it affords.

In addition to new housing, Econstruction NW also specializes in energy retrofits and remodeling. Haig focuses on his goal of creating healthier homes by using reclaimed and formaldehyde-free wood, as well as chemical-free carpeting and tile, and buying materials locally when possible.

Econstruction NW


Richard Haig, owner


White Salmon wines rival any in the Gorge


Story by Jessica Swanson

The Columbia Gorge American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is marketed as “a world of wine in 40 miles.” Because of its unique topography, varying elevations and micro-climates, grapes from all over the globe thrive in this four county area — Skamania and Klickitat in Washington, and Hood River and Wasco in Oregon. White Salmon is overlooked as a home to some of the most interesting and experienced winemakers in the Gorge.

One such winery is Major Creek Cellars, owned by Steve Mason. Steve is a new winemaker, on the eve of his sixth crush, but a dedicated afficiando of the craft. Steve, a chemical engineer and environmental manager for Boeing, was in the company’s Employees Winemaking and Brewing Club, known for producing more than a dozen well respected professional wineries. Steve started windsurfing in the Gorge in the 1980s and soon bought the property in Snowden that Major Creek Cellars now sits on. He wasn’t planning to start a winery or grow the half-acre of pinot noir he has today. But good food and European travel led him to wine — and he is hooked.


Signature Dish

Charlies Bistro, Charlies Burger


Story + photo by J. Maury Harris

While new to the downtown Vancouver scene, Charlies Bistro feeds off tradition.

Chef and owner, Peter Dougherty of La Bottega, began by paying tribute to his grandfathers – both named Charles. He also focused his menu on old-fashioned American comfort foods, with a smattering of family specialties and a pinch of modern flair.

Recognizable classics like beef wellington, rumaki and buffalo wings grace the menu. But when talking American tradition, nothing trumps a thick hamburger resting on a bed of fries.

To be exact, a half-pound, ground chuck burger in a sesame brioche bun. That’s the heart of the Charlies Burger.

Dougherty’s personalized touch gives it soul – thoughtfulness demonstrated when the melted white cheddar accentuates the roasted poblano pepper. Thick-cut bacon and balsamic caramelized onions help deepen the flavor, while leaf lettuce and organic, hydroponic tomatoes impart a crisp freshness. (more…)

Your urban abundance

New community food program to focus on central Vancouver


Story by Jessica Swanson

Urban Abundance, a new project of Slow Food Southwest Washington, plans to reach into Vancouver’s food history in order to serve its future. Director Warren Neth was offered a grant from a community member to increase the food supply in the four neighborhoods that meet at Mill Plain and Grand boulevards, just east of downtown Vancouver: Harney Heights, Edgewood, Central Park and Hudson’s Bay. The program will center on providing the bounty from community fruit and nut trees to Vancouver’s emergency food system. (more…)

Linking to stories

Hi all. I’m Kris the web admin here. I’ve noticed that it may have been difficult to link to specific posts. This is because we have two domains–one domain is pointing to the other. I also had domain masking on but I have realized that it created linking challenges so now masking is off. My apologies for any inconvenience.

Please feel free to link away!

Gardening for life

Urban Farm School teaches people how to love their gardens


Submitted photo


Kendra Pearce and Toree Hiebert met in 2000. As soon as Kendra saw freshly canned foods stacked floor to ceiling in Toree’s house, she knew they were kindred spirits.

Both women moved to large acreages with their families, Toree to La Center and Kendra to Amboy and were farming and gardening for pleasure and food; pretty soon they had partnered up on a little Community Supported Agriculture operation, where they sold small shares of food they were growing. Eventually the two moved back toward the city, Toree to Vancouver and Kendra to downtown Ridgefield, where they continued to raise vegetables and ornamentals.

“We couldn’t give it up,” said Toree. “We had to do what we could in the
space we had.”

Toree worked as an elementary school teacher, while Kendra did environmental education for the Naturally Beautiful Backyards Program at Clark County.

“One day, I approached her and said ‘I had an epiphany,’” said Toree. “I was trying to find a way to bring everything together. I’m a teacher. I’m a mom who likes to grow good food for my kinds. I’m a farm girl at heart.”


Submitted photo

That epiphany is now known as Urban Farm School.

Complementing each other’s styles and interests, the two women have formed a company that capitalizes, if unintentionally, on a back-to-the-land trend among Americans that appears particularly strong in Southwest Washington. UFS offers more than 40 different hands-on workshops throughout the year, including classes on canning, extending the garden harvest, freezing and drying, different kinds of composting, basic garden design, seed saving and converting grass to food production. The classes are nearly all full in the summer and popular year round.

In addition, the women teach a series of family-oriented classes, lead local field trips and organize springtime and harvest sales and
seed exchanges.

Toree offers in-home garden consultations, mainly in the spring. She also offers ongoing tutorials, which begin with a one-hour consultation for $50 and continue weekly at $25 for a half-hour. Toree’s service bridges the gap between self-teaching and hiring a landscape designer, which can be much more costly. That said, the two are thinking about pursuing a landscape design certification for Toree to continue to add value to the company.

Kendra handles the organization’s outreach, including its website and blog, marketing and administration. For her, it is full-time work from her 100-year-old home and small urban lot in Ridgefield. In her spare time, Kendra cultivates an ever-expanding food garden and has started dabbling in ornamentals, with Toree’s encouragement.toreekendraatcsa

Urban Farm School’s “GardenforLife” parties are a particularly innovative offering. GardenforLife parties are privately commissioned garden parties hosted at a home or other place of the client’s choosing. Kendra and Toree offer activities and teaching on a theme. Friends, family or colleagues are invited to learn a new skill over the space of two hours. Some party themes include Fabulous Fruits, Container Gardening, Healthy Soil, Healthy Food, Preservation Basics and From Lawn to Food: Starting your Vegetable Garden. Hosts are also welcome to come up with their own ideas. Each party costs $200 for a two-hour session that includes instruction, educational materials, door prizes and a host gift, and is limited to 15 guests.

“It’s like a Pampered Chef party without all the crap,” joked Kendra. Instead, she said, it’s about learning a skill with family and friends, “and keeping it for a lifetime.”

Kendra and Toree are passionate about creating a connection between food production and consumption. Too often, they hear kids saying food “comes from the store.” But they don’t bring their politics into the classroom. Kendra said their typical student is a mom who wants to get the most out of a little garden to feed her family, someone who says, “I want to do this, but I don’t know where to start.”

“We see that often this stuff builds community,” said Toree, who watches her students sharing ideas and stories after class. Some of these casual relationships turn into friendships.

Kendra has seen it at work in her own life.

“No one (in my neighborhood) talked to me until I put in the garden,” said Kendra. “Now, I know all my neighbors.”

Urban Farm School recently began offering brown bag lunches and intends to reach out to corporations and other organizations interested in bringing these kinds of skills to their employees. Each of the women is working on building a community garden in a different part of the county, and a dream of theirs is for Urban Farm School to have its own location, with a demonstration garden, classrooms and community space.

Students often wonder where the “school” is, said Toree, “as if they picture a little old one-room schoolhouse.”

She smiles as she says it, as if she can picture it too.


Aaron Baumhackl,
Solstice Wood Fire Café

story + photo By Charity Thompson

Leave it to Aaron Baumhackl to make a sausage-cherry pizza a best-seller.
As chef and co-owner of Solstice Wood Fire Café in Bingen, Aaron specializes in wood-fired pizzas with unique local toppings, such as the cafe favorite with cherries, chorizo sausage, goat cheese and rosemary.

Aaron got his start in restaurants at age 15 in California, first at a Spanish tapas restaurant and later riding the first wave of the California-style pizza trend.

“It drew me in because I like to eat and I like to create,” he said of the industry. “I like to see results fast.”

Along with that background, Solstice’s creative pizzas come from a playful approach among kitchen staff.

Solstice Wood Fire Cafe
415 W. Steuben St. (Highway 14), Bingen

“In the kitchen, everybody has a voice,” he said. “We’ll come up with a dish, plate it and see what other color combinations can go in there to make it (reflect) the season.”

Aaron’s menus change with the seasons. This fall’s menu includes a pizza with local butternut squash, leeks, bacon and blue cheese. He’ll also dish up Siragusa pear salad and pizza, huckleberry crisp and huckleberry pizza with prosciutto, mascarpone and arugula.

He keeps an eye on the local farm scene with his wife and co-owner, Suzanne Wright Baumhackl.

“Literally, we’re surrounded by farms,” Aaron said. “We see a tractor go by with eggplant and say, ‘Eggplant’s in season – what should we do?’”

Solstice has two plots at Bingen’s community garden – one for its kitchen and one for the local food bank.

Its menu also includes foods less common in rural areas, such as sautéed kale and quinoa chowder.

“We’re trying to keep it simple,” he said, “and let the food speak for itself in flavor and nutrients.”

Community garden brings a bit of ‘Sunshine’ to Fruit Valley


Story + Photos by Temple Lentz

Hypothetical question: Say it’s winter 2008-2009. You’ve just bought your first house, you’ve moved across town to a neighborhood where you don’t know anyone, and the economy has tanked. What’s the first thing you do?

For Anna Petruolo and Lisa Robbins, the answer was clear: start a neighborhood garden.

On the surface, the idea is deceptively simple. Their Fruit Valley house in Vancouver has a huge yard, and Lisa and Anna wanted to grow their own food in a garden. When they worked out some numbers, the possibilities were staggering.

Anna Petruolo And Lisa Robbins
Sunshine Garden
Fruit Valley Neighborhood, Vancouver

“It turns out we have about 1,000 square feet of plantable space,” Anna said. “There’s no way the two of us could eat that much food.” Instead of scaling back their ambitions, they started to think even bigger.

The Fruit Valley neighborhood is unglamorous but charming. The houses are simple and functional, and the population is broadly diverse. One of the reasons the area is affordable for so many people is that it is somewhat cut off from the rest of the city.

“There is no grocery store nearby,” said Anna. “The only place to go is the Chevron station or the Minit Mart.” Urban farms and community gardens are increasingly popular ways for
residents to empower themselves, get healthier, and spend productive time outdoors.

Anna envisions the garden as a loosely organized neighborhood gathering place.

“Come by, help us weed for a little bit, and take home a few tomatoes. Or bring your own seeds and work with us to learn about companion planting and soils.” Toree Hiebert and Kendra Pearce from Urban Farm School helped plan the garden, and are interested in holding classes there. Within three years, Lisa and Anna plan to have vegetables, fruit trees, succulents, flowering annuals, and even an outdoor kitchen. Petruolo, a personal chef, is very excited about this vision.

“We want it to be full circle. You plant and tend it, harvest, and then come right around the corner and I can show you what to do with, say, 10 pounds of carrots.”

A force in the community

WSUV Digital Technology and Culture Program prepares generation 2.0 for local service


Story + Photos By Jessica Swanson

The Washington State University Vancouver Digital Culture and Technology Program is heading into its teen years and growing up fast.
The department is also playing a big part in the success of Clark County nonprofit organizations, businesses and the arts community.

Students concentrate in one of three areas: multimedia authoring, informatics or culture and technology. Many intend to pursue careers or start companies in design, production, music, web analytics and other areas of technology communication. These are student entrepreneurs. Twenty-two-year-old Sarah Richards plans to head into music promotion after graduation. A DJ at KOUG radio, she transferred into the DTC program from Clark College, but said many of her peers are transferring in from other WSU programs.

“I know many people who are switching over to it because it sparked their interest,” she said. “It allows us to be more creative.”

Matthew Wright, 26, wants “to be able to get a good solid job in a technical field,” such as producing music for websites. A former music major at Eastern Washington University and an electronic music junky, DTC is a good fit for his interests. Matthew is heading up a project to create a promotional video for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s about how orchestral music and community symphony benefit the community,” he said, adding that a perk of the project is spending time with a professional composer and conductor, paths he can also see himself pursuing.

The Vancouver Symphony video is an example of a Senior Seminar project. DTC majors can choose to intern at a for-profit business or be part of a team project for a nonprofit in their senior year. Teams of DTC students have created videos for the Council for the Homeless, Bonneville Lock and Dam, Vida’s Ark and Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington; websites for the Columbia River Economic Development Council, At Home At School, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Living in Southwest Washington; and animations for the Clark County Fire and Rescue.

DTC on the web

The opportunities are many, but Program Director Dene Grigar and Professor John Barber don’t advise students to jump into opportunities before they are ready. They do stay close by in order to push when the time is right.

Matthew’s Vancouver Symphony team was put together in just this way.

“They’ll recommend things to you that are your strengths,” he said, “and help find people to compensate for your weaknesses.”

A force in the community

Dene believes the best way to grow the program – and to get her students the careers they want – is to be a force in the community. She approached Vancouver’s North Bank Artists Gallery because a gallery was an important venue the
program was lacking. It has proven to be a good match. The gallery has hosted events of all sizes there, and at least a dozen students have been accepted into North Bank’s shows, said Gallery Manager Kathy Rick. Kathy, a multimedia artist and photographer, also teaches a class in the DTC program, Digital Diversity and Culture, which deals with cultural issues such as racism, politics and gender and how technology plays into them. Dene invited her to teach the class, and she loves it.

A DTC multimedia forum is scheduled for October at the gallery, and the relationship seems destined to continue for some time.

“I think it’s been an incredible pairing,” said Kathy. “The DTC program is so incredibly vital and exciting, and we
celebrate that with them.”

Dene, who was hired in 2006, has a master plan for the program. She has spent her first three years building the program and making relationships in the community. Now, she is devoting time to formulating a Master’s degree program and would like to see a post doctoral think tank-type of organization housed at the university, an “institute of the future.”

But now, a big focus is on getting her students into the workforce, and started on creating future workforce opportunities – a special challenge in this economy.

“This is what the community needs,” she said. “We want to turn out people who are going to create jobs and create opportunities.”