The Resort at Port Ludlow

Friday, July 20, 2012

Farm to Table – Working to Sustain an Artisanal Food Community

Finnriver Farm
Supporting local farmers is a high priority for the Fireside Restaurant’s management team, and the commitment goes beyond just buying local!  In today’s post, Director of Food & Beverage James Robinson explains how the Fireside is partnering with local growers.

 Nestled against the sea and just minutes from East Jefferson County’s agricultural heartland, Port Ludlow is in a prime location to benefit from the bounty the area has to offer. From vegetables, to cheese, to fishmongers and bakers, there’s no shortage of highly quality goods. However, years ago the management team at the Resort At Port Ludlow’s Fireside Restaurant decided that it isn’t enough to simply purchase the goods. If we believe in helping to foster and sustain an active farming and artisanal food community – which we do – then we decided we must do more. We must lead.

Executive Chef Dan Ratigan
To that end, Dan Ratigan, our executive chef, convened a farmer and restaurateur summit this spring. The idea was to gather all the players in the same room in an attempt to solve some of our most vexing delivery and distribution challenges. One of the summit’s goals was to work toward creating predictability in the market by cajoling other restaurateurs into committing to sourcing a variety of products from area farms. With commitments, farmers could grow crops with the assurance that there was a willing buyer, or market, for their goods.

 Although the farmer-restaurateur summit drew a tepid response from the area restaurant community, the farmers were ecstatic. Moreover, the afternoon galvanized our resolve to stay front-runners in the Peninsula’s farm to table movement -- and not because it’s the trendy thing to do. But because the quality of the goods available here are unsurpassed; because it’s the right thing to do for the environment, because it’s the right thing to do for the local economy and the community and because it allows us to offer a menu we are extremely proud of. As a rule, our menu and business plan make the use of locally grown, locally produced, locally foraged and locally fished products paramount.

SpringRain Farm Chickens
In that regard, we are working with SpringRain Farm to develop a market for poussins – or young chickens. Although these chickens take a prominent place on our menu, we hadn’t found a local source – until now. As our relationship develops and we commit to SpringRain Farm, they are assured they have an outlet for their products and we are assured we have a source for a coveted menu item.

Chef Dan's friend, Graham Kerr, Visits Red Dog Farm 
The same holds true for Red Dog Farm in Chimacum. Before planting began last year Karyn Williams and Ratigan sat down with seed catalogues in order to ensure she grew crops with a guaranteed market.  We committed to rows, she committed to us. And now, fresh produce arrives daily, our relationship with Red Dog Farm is thriving and we are proud to showcase her high quality produce on our menu.

Just down Center Valley Road from Red Dog Farm lies Finnriver Farm – our sole source for eggs. Like Red Dog Farm, our partnership with Keith and Crystie Kisler runs deep. In addition to continually developing outlets at the Resort for their goods, our most recent project includes creating a roster of agri-tourism events and activities for Resort guests.

But partnerships, relationships and excellence grow in baby steps and it’s taken us years to get us where we are.  First you’ve got to plant the seeds and hope they germinate. Then you hope for conditions favorable for the production of strong healthy crops. Once the seedlings burst through the soil, they must be nurtured in order to produce.

As a business and organization, we have forged fast friendships and strong partnerships with the Olympic Peninsula’s premier growers but stay tuned, because we are not finished. Our seeds have sprouted, but there is still much to do to ensure that East Jefferson County becomes the epicenter of the state’s farm-to-table and locavore food movements – and not because it is trendy, but because it is the right thing to do. See you at the next farm and restaurateur summit!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Year In The Making

Beautiful Petal
Our knitters had a wonderful 3-day retreat in June with a few staying over longer to continue enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the Resort. They worked hard at the retreat – absorbing new knitting and dyeing techniques taught by their energetic and captivating teachers, mastering new cooking skills with Chef Dan and his team. They visited local Finnriver Farm each day, the source of The Fireside’s freshly laid eggs, tasting boutique apple ciders, preparing dinners for the group, and ending their days feasting on their bounty along with paired wine flights.

As tradition would have it, the knitters found the extra energy to “yarn bomb” the Inn during their stay.  One piece of knitted art had been in the planning process for several months. We call it A Year in the Making – not to be missed!  This beautiful piece surrounds our staircase light fixture … how did they install it with no ladders, no scaffolding?  It’s a mystery, a secret taken away by the knitters, never to be shared, yet this beautiful piece of art will remain to be enjoyed for years to come.  

A Year In The Making
This retreat’s site specific art installation is now available for public viewing –stop by the Inn at The Resort at Port Ludlow during the month of July to enjoy the knitting artists’ work. We have shared pictures of a few pieces here if you are unable to make it before July 31st.
How Did They Get Up There?!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Urbanites to Lavender Farmers

Sequim’s 2012 Lavender Weekend celebration is just a week away, July 20-22! The bloom is right on schedule, shrouding Sequim in a vibrant sea of purple!

Jardin du Soleil, one of 7 farms on the renowned Heritage Lavender Farm Tour, is under new ownership this year by a couple who just may hold the record as Sequim’s youngest lavender farmers ever!  An adventure of a lifetime led them to Sequim – and they are working hard and loving a new life that they never before imagined!
Summer Bloom
The Schiefen’s Story 

What would possibly motivate a thirty-something pre-school teacher and her insurance agent husband to pack-up their two small kids (ages 5 and 2) and the dog and chuck their comfortable urban life in Santa Barbara, Calif.  --  to become lavender farmers? Particularly when neither had any kind of farming experience whatsoever – in fact, they never even had a yard!  

According to Jordan and Paul Schiefen, it all began with a search for a more  simple, stable life that involved selling the family business, buying a small trailer and setting off on a cross country journey with destination unknown. Their only requirements – wherever they landed must have ocean, mountains, and be within 3 hours of a major city.

After traveling from California to Maine and back to the west coast -- still searching – the Schiefen’s happened to roll into Sequim during an uncharacteristically rainy 2011 Lavender Weekend celebration. They visited all of the destination farms on the Lavender Farm Tour, and noted that the last one, Jardin du Soleil, was up for sale.
After touring the farm and speaking with owners Pam and Randy Nicholson, the stars aligned! This was what the Schiefen’s had been looking for! They made an offer the Monday after Lavender Weekend, and because harvest was imminent, got a 15-day Escrow!

Jardin du Soleil
A flight back to California to tie-up loose ends, then back to Sequim to undergo 3 intensive days of training with the former owners, and the Schiefen’s were on their own with a lot of lavender to harvest and lavender oil to distill!
“I had no idea one year ago how much work running the farm would be – growing, distilling oil, and running the on-site gift shop,” says Jordan Schiefen. “We’ve taken it step-by-step and the Lavender Farmers Association has been a big help along the way. We’ve loved every second of it! This is the life that we were looking for.”

“As we approach our initial year on the Heritage Farm Tour, Schiefen continues, “we welcome visitors to what is not just a business, but our family home – complete with playhouses, sandboxes and chickens! Our 5-year-old son will most likely be mingling with visitors selling the basket full of lavender bundles that he clipped. Oh – and there is no longer a ‘please hold your child’s hand’ sign on the gift shop door!
The Schiefen Family and Jardin du Soleil will be featured on King 5’s Evening Magazine on Wednesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. Be sure to tune in!
About Sequim Lavender Weekend
Sequim Lavender Weekend is comprised of two separate events – the Lavender Farm Faire, which features the renowned Heritage Tour of 7 destination lavender farms, each a festival unto itself, plus “Lavender in the Park” at Carrie Blake Park/Reuse Demonstration Park, a free family-friendly central source for all things lavender – food, music, cooking demonstrations, crafts, family programs and more.
The second event, Lavender Festival, features a self-guided “U-Tour" of more of Sequim’s many lavender farms, plus the annual Street Fair on Fir Street in downtown Sequim.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Totem Pole Depicts Port Ludlow's Evolution

Burner Point
The next time you visit Port Ludlow, take the short stroll from the Inn to Burner Point, a circle of lawn overlooking the Bay, and view the totem pole at its center.

Designed specifically for this site by David Boxley,
a Tsimshian carver from Metlakatla, Alaska, the pole depicts the evolution of Port Ludlow from its past natural state to its present state as a residential community, in six Tsimshian figures.

Standing 40-feet high, the pole is carved from a Western Red Cedar tree located on the Olympic Peninsula at Nolan Creek, south of the Hoh Rain Forest. A wind storm in 1993 blew the 720-year-old tree to the ground, and Boxley chose it from amongst several trees for the Burner Point totem.
The initial cuts to the log were made at a sawmill in Gorst, outside of Bremerton, and the balance of the carving was done in a temporary shelter erected near to the pole’s present site.

Starting from the top, the figures are:

Eagle and Bear
The Eagle – representing the state prior to any human occupation.

The Bear – representing the ancestors of the local S’Klallam tribe.

Two Men with Locked Arms – Mr. Pope and Mr. Talbot, owners of the sawmill formerly located in Port Ludlow.

The Lumberman – representing the period of the sawmill, 1852-1935.
Inn At Port Ludlow in the Distance
The Beaver – representing the building phase of Pope Resources.

The Six Interlocking Figures – representing the people and community of Port Ludlow.
According to Boxley, one of the six figures represents an actual person. Tony Puma, who was the construction project manager for the Inn and apparently conceived the idea to place a totem pole at Burner Point, is the mustached man with the cell phone.

The pole was completed and raised in 1995.

Source: Port Ludlow Voice, June 2000