Strawberries & Banana

Spring makes my project side kick into full gear. I want to clean and redecorate and freshen everything up! That urge has played out in a few ways recently. Two weeks ago we took a FULL (mini cooper) car load of donations to the local thrift store, which gave us the space to move ALL our furniture out of the living room in preparation for a ceiling drywall resurfacing. Our 1925 house has seen a lot of wear over the years, and so before painting we decided to take care of the minor cosmetic cracks and peeling in the living room.

Project 1: We are in the final stages of prep, and should have a new and freshly refinished and painted ceiling by the end of the month!

Project #2: the garden! It is still too wet to dig into the veggie garden that we redid last fall. We need to add compost and redesign the planting spaces and then bring on the growing season! We have leeks, celery and lettuce started in the house, and stacks of seed packets to start in the actual garden once it is a tad bit warmer. Our goal: grow enough so that we can significantly cut back on grocery costs. To make even more space productive we started ripping out a very overgrown flower garden. Sunday was rainy but it did not stop us! We brought out the broadfork for it’s inaugural use and boy was it worth it! That tool is amazing! Even better, they are make on the island. We dug through and pulled out at least 10 years’ worth of growth to reveal a garden that will be great for raspberries and potatoes.

This past weekend we went to the farmer’s market to buy some very unique strawberry plants: the Marshall strawberry. What is the Marshall strawberry you ask? Well here is a short story:

What is described by James Beard as “the tastiest berry ever grown?” Why, the delicate and delicious Marshall strawberry, of course! You mean “the” Marshall strawberry? That’s right! This humble little gem is an heirloom variety that a great part of Vashon and Maury Island history was laid upon.  Discovered in Massachusetts in 1880 and brought here by Japanese farmers, the yummy Marshall was once the dominant strawberry grown in this area. In the early 1900s forests had been cut and berry farms flourished for many decades. Marshall strawberries were sugared and sent in wooden barrels throughout the country for people to enjoy and Vashon celebrated this wonderful harvest with an annual Strawberry Festival. Sadly, over time the berry farms were phased out due to out-of-state competition, transportation costs and the spread of disease. The sweet Marshall all but disappeared and in 2004 was listed as one of the ten most endangered foods in the United States by RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions). Only a hint of these plants existed and a few carefully protected ones were being maintained at the USDA’s Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon.

When Patty Hieb and her husband Hooper Havekotte bought part of what used to be a previous berry farm on Maury Island last year, they were delighted to learn of the Marshall’s history there. They purchased their place from octogenarian Helen Brocard, whose Croation family (the Kranjcevichs) homesteaded in Dockton and had a large berry farm that included Marshall strawberries. So loved were the berries that decades after they had been lost to the island, Helen obtained some from the Corvallis Repository to grow again. The plants in Dockton are considered to be the only virus-free Marshalls back on the island. Happily this rare little berry is slowly experiencing a resurgence among foodies across the country, providing a delicious alternative to the hard, white strawberries with hollow centers and little flavor that we often receive from California. Chances are you’ve never been lucky enough to eat these sweet little morsels. However Patty thought it would be fun to share their Marshall wealth and thus lucky visitors to the Vashon Farmers Market this month and in May will be able to purchase Marshall plants that Helen so lovingly kept growing on her family property. 

So this past weekend we brought home three of the adorable little plants to start our own patch of heritage berries, preserving Vashon history and hopefully giving new life to the delectable little fruit.

Project 3: wardrobe makeover! As I approach graduation I am realizing that I need a more professional wardrobe. I started with a few StitchFix pieces and then decided to try out Nordstrom’s personal styling service. Honestly I was not that thrilled with what they found for me and walked out empty handed, but on the way home I stopped by Banana Republic and found a whole bunch of great new wardrobe staples. Banana is great. All their clothes just fit me well and are styles I like. With two new blazers, some basic t-shirts and a pair of fun pants I am set to have a whole new level of grown-upness in my wardrobe! Fun!




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