by Camille Cody
For owners Linda Davis and Jim Rueff, it is the things people everywhere share and all depend upon (mainly food!) that inspired their creation of Solstice Farm Bed and Breakfast. Food is the common denominator that can bring many diverse groups with differing opinions, agendas and ideas together. We all eat, and finding that common ground can build bridges of community both in the neighborhood and from far away.
When it came to naming the B and B, “There aren’t many things we all celebrate together,” says Linda. “As a planet, we all celebrate solstices – no matter your race or background.” The principles of inclusivity and respect were important factors in starting the farm, and the name ‘Solstice’ represents their stance.
“Inclusivity” is indeed an appropriate term for their lifestyle and livelihood — on one patch of land the have squeezed in a whole complementary array of income channels, participants, and ongoing ambitious experiments. Sheep are kept for both field fertilization and meat. Two llamas, Olympia and Juno, keep watch and guard over the grazing sheep, while chickens scoot around the property providing Jim and Linda with eggs and meat. A well-defined garden and orchard grows vegetables, grains and fruits both for the B&B’s table as well as local markets like the Food Co-op and our Corner Farmstand. This year eleven hogs have had a ball snorting around a patch of land just south of the garden – rooting up weeds and grasses and turning over the soil to prepare it for planting to another orchard – all the while being fed kitchen and garden scraps mixed with whey from Mount Townsend Creamery. (These eleven hogs will be “harvested” in early October and there is still meat for sale. If you are interested in ordering half a pig, give Linda and Jim a call at 732-0174.)
In a world where most farmers have to scrape together to make ends meet, at least one of the owners often have to seek a secondary source of income, taking them away from the life and necessary tasks that are required of a farm to keep it going. Of the B&B operation – their largest income source for the farm – Linda says she would recommend it to any farmer. “It supports the farm in a way that works and it allows us to be here all day long.”
And not only does the B&B sustain its two owners, but the entire community of Chimacum is supported in a whole new way. When they originally opened the B&B with its two-room accommodations, Linda and Jim were figuring on mainly hosting folks headed to Port Townsend who were interested in a more rural, quiet setting. They couldn’t have been more surprised to find that the vast majority of visitors have chosen Chimacum as their destination. The influx of people from outside the community who are interested in the agriculture in and around the town has strengthened the local economy and the wide-spreading notion that it is a good thing to know where your food comes from. When visitors stay at Solstice, they usually also frequent the Chimacum Farmers Market and other area farms, like Finnriver’s and Eaglemount’s cider tasting rooms. As one of the few lodging options in Chimacum, Solstice is playing a huge part in supporting and enriching our community.
And as if Jim and Linda didn’t have their hands in enough projects and interests, Solstice is one of the main farms participating in Jefferson County’s FIELD (Farming Innovation, Education and Leadership Development) program. Able to host up to three interns at a time, folks who take part in the program get to experience life on the farm at Solstice combined with ventures and workshops at other area farms given by leading members of the community. “I love the FIELD program,” says Linda. “These interns come wanting to learn from what little experience we have had. It feels really good to save them some steps.” Monetary gain is not the driving force behind it all – interns and farmers work side by side. “We work together. The interns teach me all the time.”
One of the things they are working together on now is a new technique for controlling the carrot rust fly maggot. This little stinker lays its eggs in the crown of crops like carrots, celery, parsley and parsnips. The larvae hatch out and burrow down into the roots, creating tunnels that are rust colored. This pest is common in the northern United States and several generations of egg layers can exist in one year! Carrots have born the brunt of the disaster on Solstice, and though the rusty parts can be cut or peeled away, it ultimately renders the affected carrots un-sellable. Most garden books recommend net or Re-may coverings over the rows of vulnerable plants, to plant later in the season for a fall harvest of carrots and intercropping with plants in the allium family (onions, leeks) or strong herbs like rosemary, sage or wormwood, all of which emit volatile substances which may deter the fly from the area. This notion of companion planting is what has the farmers and interns at Solstice experimenting with their upcoming fall carrot crop. They hope their inter-plantings of mint and common tansy (two native plants with similar volatile scents of the aforementioned herbs) alongside their carrots will prove a deterrent to the fly. Should this experiment prove effective, Linda plans on submitting their findings to the WSU extension and publications like Mother Earth News.
Solstice Farm Bed and Breakfast has been open to guests since 2009. They have 2 guest rooms with queen beds, each costing $105/night. A sumptuous breakfast is included and the large sunroom is a delight to hang in. Jim and Linda bought the property in 2002, at that time 33 acres of horse/cow pasture. With little background in farming, they have learned on the fly and built it into the complex organic (non-certified) “closed loop” (bringing in as little outside fertilizer, feed, minerals, etc as possible) farm that it is today. As part of a stay at the B and B, Jim and Linda invite their guests to get involved with any farm activities that interest them.
Jim and Linda Rueff
6503 Beaver Valley Rd, Chimacum, WA 98325