Organics, sustainability are heart of The Farm

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Jessi Bloom, left, collaborator and partner in The Farm, with Tad Hussey, feeding the chickens. Staff photo/Deborah Stone
Jessi Bloom has an apropos name. The local woman is a certified arborist and horticulturist, and owner of N.W. Bloom, an ecological landscape design company.

“I’ve always had a passion for taking care of people, animals and the planet,” says Bloom. “And I’ve always been interested in growing food and being self-sufficient. My career was a natural pathway for me.”

In addition to running her own business, Bloom sits on a number of advisory boards and works with organizations that want to incorporate more sustainable practices in their operations. She is also a newly published author of a book on free range chicken gardens.  Her latest endeavor is a collaboration and partnership with longtime area residents, Leon and Linda Hussey, owners of The Farm, off of Avondale Rd. in Redmond. The 8-acre property, which was one of the first pieces of land homesteaded on the Eastside back in the late 1800s, has been a retail nursery for the past 28 years.

“We started Classic Nursery here,” explains Leon Hussey, “selling landscape and plant material. Then, twelve years ago, we created a nature trail on the property so that people could come out and see the salmon in Bear Creek. Our land borders the creek on the south and with the help of students from local schools, as well as a number of Eagle Scouts, we worked to restore the stream and construct interpretive signage.”

Hussey notes that the project became lauded as a model and attracted much interest from a variety of sectors. He adds, “The trail is here for everyone and we’re proud to be the only private land open to the public seven days a week. We have families that come and walk it, school kids on tours, college students who test the water and even politicians who want to show it off to others as an example of successful stream restoration.”

Ten years ago, the Husseys sold their business to two employees who leased the land from them and kept the Classic Nursery name.

They left last April when their lease was up and Leon and Linda decided to move back in and establish an urban farm store on the site with the help of Bloom and their son, Tad.

The plan, according to Bloom, is to eventually make the place a “hub of sustainable education.” She explains: “There are many components here. It’s multifaceted. We have the animals – chickens, ducks, rabbits and bees – to show people how these creatures can forage without a lot of feed and all the ways we can utilize them. Then there’s the educational component. People can view and learn about the salmon and see how to care for a stream when they take a walk on the trail.

“There are also going to be demonstration gardens with plants that are good for beneficial insects and building soil, and others that can be used for culinary or medicinal purposes. Our nursery component involves all the plants that are available for purchase. Most are perennial edibles that you put in the ground once and reap the benefits year after year.”

Bloom adds, “In the retail area, we’re selling urban farm and feed supplies. If you want to keep chickens or bees, for example, we have everything you need to get started. And then we’re in the process of creating an edible food forest and a greenhouse to show how hydro and aquaponics systems are used.”

Linda Hussey comments that The Farm is a work in progress at this point. She emphasizes that it is going to take time, patience and money for the place to fully evolve and that it is being developed in phases.

“There’s incredible opportunity here for education about sustainability and responsible living,” she says. “This site is unique and we want to share the property with others. We want it to be part of the community – a place for people to gather, to enjoy nature and to learn what they can do on their own to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Bloom believes that people are ready and willing to learn how to be good consumers.

She notes that the Northwest has become a center of sustainability in the country, adding, “More and more people here are interested in growing their own food, raising chickens, using alternative building materials and incorporating other sustainable practices in their day-to-day lives so that they can lower their impact on the environment. They’re excited about these things, but often they don’t know how to begin. That’s where The Farm comes in.”

Tad Hussey, who serves as the operations manager at The Farm, explains his vision for the new business.

He says, “I see it as a destination for all things related to edibles, growing and small scale livestock, with a focus on education. It’s about giving people the tools they need to be sustainable and interact with their environment.”

Hussey’s specialty is soil science and he makes his own organic fertilizers, as well as consults with farms and vineyards on their soil composition.

The Farm has been up and running since Father’s Day and slowly, but surely, people are finding out about the place.

A grand opening is planned for October 20.

“We’re going to have speakers, food, vendors and music, and I’m trying to get someone from Pasado’s Safe Haven to come, too,” comments Linda. “We hope to have a good turnout and to really get the word out about this special place and what we’re trying to do here.”

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