Category Archives: Agriculture

Help us rank the top 10 Islander stories of 2014

The tugboat Pacific Knight helps maneuver the state ferry Tacoma to the Bainbridge Island dock after it lost power while making the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge on July 29, 2014. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

We are asking readers to rank the top Bainbridge Islander stories from this past year in a survey. The top 10 will be posted on this blog.

You can take the survey here.

If you need to refresh your memory on a story,  they are listed below in no particular order with links:


Bainbridge honors iconic farmer Monday

blog.suyematsuFarmer Akio Suyematsu left an indelible mark on Bainbridge Island’s agricultural community.

The Japanese-American berry grower passed away last year at age 90, but his legacy lives on through the generation of farmers he mentored in his Day Road fields.

The city declared Aug. 19 “Akio Suyematsu Day” following his passing. Islanders will mark the occasion Monday with a celebration at Suyematsu and Bentryn Family Farms on Day Road East (the driveway  by the farm stand).

The event will include a walking tour, live music, locally-grown food and refreshments, and a memorial display. The celebration is scheduled for 6-9 p.m.

Above, Akio Suyematsu in 2007. Photo by Carolyn J. Yaschur.


Islander is ‘The People’s Best New Chef’

blog.mcgill2Bainbridge Island’s Brendan McGill beat out chefs from around the nation Tuesday to win the title of “The People’s Best New Chef” from Food & Wine Magazine. McGill is the owner of Hitchcock restaurant on Winslow Way and the accompanying charcuterie and deli.

The Food & Wine competition featured chefs from 10 regions across the United States. Online voting was open March 11-18.

In his Q&A for the contest, McGill credited local farmers with shaping his cooking style:

 “The farmers really drive the menu. I just buy what they give me… It’s of the moment.” Truly, though, “This is more like what Jacques Pépin’s mom did than some kind of revolution.”

We featured Hitchcock in the Islander in 2011. You can read the story below:

Hitchcock — Bainbridge Islander 9.30.11 by tsooter

Singed and sanctioned, goat creamery carries on

First there was the yurt fire. Then there was a run in with the city’s code compliance office.

But after a rough first year, the Barclay brothers are carrying on with their dream of opening a goat creamery on Bainbridge Island. The brothers launched a capital campaign this week on, aiming to raise $32,000 to cover startup costs for their new dairy.

According to the campaign description, Coyote Farm Creamery will produce Grade A raw goat milk and serve as a teaching farm for families and school groups. Money raised from the campaign will help the Barclays buy milking supplies, purchase commercial refrigerators and upgrade outbuildings on the farm to meet city code. If they can raise an additional $17,000, the Barclays will purchase a small pasteurizer to produce yogurt and cheese.

It doesn’t hurt that this is kidding season and the Barclays have plenty of adorable baby goat photos (see above) to aid their cause. The first 50 donors of $100 or more get to name a newborn goat. The campaign ends March 14.

(Courtesy photo)

Friday preview: Bainbridge edition

Here’s the Friday preview: Bainbridge edition for Oct. 5. Please feel free to give your own events a plug in the comment section below. You can read the Sun’s regional Friday preview here. Above, solar panels line the roof of City Hall. Visitors can learn more about the solar installation during an open house from 1-4 p.m. today, as part of the Bainbridge Solar Tour. (Photo by Tammy Deets/Community Energy Solutions)


Weather: Our run of dry fall weather continues, with no end in sight. The National Weather Service predicts sunny days and clear nights through Columbus Day and beyond. Expect daytime highs in the mid 60s and chilly nights in the low 40s.

Sports: Spartans teams are away this weekend. Football plays Seattle Prep at 7 p.m. tonight at West Seattle Stadium, and Sun sportswriters like Bainbridge across the board.  The full Spartans schedule is online.

Around the island: 

  • If our forecast holds, the sun will be shining for this year’s Bainbridge Solar Tour. The tour begins with an open house from 1-4 p.m. Friday at City Hall Council Chambers. Visitors can learn more about the City Hall solar installation and check out a newly installed information kiosk. The tour continues Saturday at Grow Community where three model homes will be on display from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • A poultry pageant will add pomp to this Saturday’s Bainbridge Farmers Market. The chicken costume competition takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s free to enter if you have fowl handy. Look for photos and a story in the Sunday Sun.
  • AlderDash racers are raising big money for IslandWood. Day-of registrations will be welcomed for the fun run/walk/stroll, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the south island education center. Find details here.
  • Pick up this week’s Islander for more event listings and tell us about your own events in the comment section below .

Inside the Islander: Bainbridge Performing Arts lends its wizardry to The Who’s “Tommy,” and we welcome a new editor.

The week in review: 

Coming up:

  • Volunteer gardeners stock Helpline house with much-needed veggies.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the week. Contact Bainbridge reporter Tad Sooter at

Friday preview: Bainbridge edition

Here’s the Friday preview: Bainbridge edition for Sept. 28. Please feel free to give your own events a plug in the comment section below. You can read the Sun’s regional Friday preview here. Above, Brian MacWhorter guides guests on a hay ride during the 2011 Harvest Fair. (Brad Camp photo)

Weather: We’re looking at a dry and partly sunny weekend with highs in the mid 60s according to the National Weather Service.  Expect a little fog Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Sports: The Spartans football team is back at home tonight, playing Bishop Blanchet with a 7 p.m. kickoff. Girls varsity soccer plays Garfield 7 p.m. Saturday at home. The full Spartans schedule is online.

Around the island: 

  • Rise and Shine with the Housing Resources Board’s annual fundraiser breakfast 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church. The breakfast is free but donations are accepted and an RSVP is requested. A zany collection of birdhouses is also up for auction. Bidding has begun online. Proceeds support HRB’s work in affordable housing and housing services on the island.
  • Pumpkins are ripening fast in Bainbridge fields, and that must mean it’s time for the Harvest Fair at Johnson Farm. The Friends of the Farms festival celebrates locally grown food and the preservation of island farmland. Events include farming demonstrations, wagon rides and contests. The fair runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Shuttles will be available. Get the details here.
  • Also Sunday, the 2012 Frog Rock Forum will focus on citizenship, and ways of creating a more resilient community. The discussion, organized by Sustainable Bainbridge, runs 3-6 p.m. at IslandWood. Ticket information here.
  • Pick up this week’s Islander for more event listings and tell us about your own events in the comment section below .

Inside the Islander: An upcoming photography display at Bainbridge Performing Arts offers “Visions of Life.”

The week in review: 

Coming up:

  • A new Bainbridge non-profit will use books to connect Bainbridge students with children in Myanmar.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the week. Contact Bainbridge reporter Tad Sooter at

Bainbridge farming icon Akio Suyematsu dies at 90

Longtime Bainbridge farmer Akio Suyematsu died this afternoon. He was 90 years old.

His friend, Gerard Bentryn – who grew grapes next to Suyematsu’s Day Road berry fields – said Suyematsu passed away at a Seattle care facility surrounded by family.

Bentryn and other island farmers credit Suyematsu for keeping farming alive on Bainbridge.

“Though his sheer stubbornness and talent, he’s made farming keep going,” Bentryn told me in 2007, when Suyematsu was still farming at 85. “Akio’s the core of it all.”

You can read more about Suyematsu here.

He was born on Bainbridge in 1921, when the island was one of the state’s largest producers of strawberries.

He was sent to an internment camp with other Japanese Americans during World War II. Shortly after his release, he was drafted and then trained for the all-Japanese-American 442nd regiment, one of the most decorated in the history of the U.S. armed forces. The war ended when he was on furlough, and he was shipped off to Germany to serve as a military policeman.

He returned to the island in the late 1940s and has farmed ever since. Most of the island’s full-time farmers credit Suyematsu’s generosity and practical know-how for making them the farmers they are today. Mostly, they say, he led by example, putting in long hours without much rest and no complaints.

Bentryn said Suyematsu was in a great deal of pain shortly before he died. He was recovering from surgeries to treat problems with his heart and stomach.

“Nobody wants to die, but he didn’t want pain,” Bentryn said.

Bentryn expects a memorial service will be announced in the coming days.

“Not having Akio… it’s a big change for us,” he said.

PHOTO: Lenna Himmelstein, Kitsap Sun (2005)

Bainbridge promo video hits airwaves

KPS_Bainbridge FULL // Final from KOMO Production Services on Vimeo.

The Bainbridge Island Tourism Alliance has produced a promotional video with KOMO TV that touts the island an “escape” for city dwellers who want a mix of rural and ritz.

You can see the full three-minute version above.

Shorter 30- and 15-second versions will show during commercial breaks on KOMO’s Channel 4.

Andrea Mackin commissioned the video for the alliance, which includes the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce and three other island groups.

She said the video is aimed at boosting tourism during the off-season.

A Komo videographer spent three days last summer shooting footage of Eagle Harbor, the farmers market, the internment memorial, wineries and downtown shops.

The video is expected to have prime-time showings on KOMO until the end of November.

Farm preservationists earn first Blakely Award

Steve Romein and his wife Ty Cramer earned a special commendation from the Bainbridge Historic Preservation Commission for their work rehabilitating the Lynwood Center building and preserving two south Bainbridge farms.

“Steve and Ty have set an excellent example for other developers to follow and made our community a better place in which to live,” the city commission said in a statement after awarding the couple the commission’s first Blakely Award for preservation leadership. The commission plans to give the award on an annual basis.

The commission also recognized the Bainbridge park district with a Blakely Award in the “project of excellence” category for its work to restore the cabin at Camp Yeomalt Park.

In 2007, Romein and Cramer began pouring money into fixing up and expanding the decaying Lynwood Center building in a manner that fit its 1930s-era Tudor style.

“In their renovation efforts, Ty and Steve chose to do so in a way that it would retain its original historic integrity,” the commission said. “The Lynwood Center neighborhood has been revitalized by their efforts.”

Early this year, Romein and Cramer purchased an Old Mill Road farm with the goal of preserving it as farmland and to develop a trail connecting to other public pathways. They also plan to rehabilitate two 19th-century farmhouses on the property.

The pair then purchased an even larger farm that island preservation groups have had their eye on for years. Romein and Cramer plan to put farmers to work on the land, develop a farming education program with nearby Blakely Elementary and set aside a portion as preserved open space.

You can read my profile of Steve Romein here.

Sunset declares Bainbridge “the Northwest’s new wine destination”

Think a visit to Bainbridge Island, aka “one of the Northwest’s most happening destinations,” is all about drinking wine at wine tasting rooms, and then drinking wine at Fort Ward, and then drinking wine on wine tours and then drinking wine with some boeuf bourguignon*?

No, it is not. It is also about going for a “glide around Eagle Harbor in an electric cruise boat.” Don’t like electric boats? Mostly want to find new ways of drinking more wine? Sorry, there is “no excuse” but to glide in an electric boat.

For more guidance, turn to the latest issue of Sunset Magazine.

*French for “beef with some more wine”

Police blotter: The case of the great strawberry heist


Police are investigating the theft of an island farmer’s entire strawberry crop. Every single ripe berry was stripped from his field just before he was to flood the farmers market with his Bainbridge-grown bounty. A theft of this magnitude likely would have required a team of swift pickers and a getaway car with plenty of cargo space, the farmer told police.

Also this week, a woman is “cited” for having “illegally-colored skin”….and littering.

Blotter’s below.

Continue reading

VIDEO: Planting City Hall’s garden

Councilwoman Debbi Lester shot a short video introducing City Hall’s newly-planted edible garden. That’s Councilman Barry Peters doing the talking and Sound Food member Sallie Maron doing the planting.

A few days later, the planting began in earnest, with about a dozen volunteers planting corn, squash, tomatoes, chard and other crops that will be free for the taking. Read my story about it HERE.

And for more information on the guy who inspired all this, head over HERE and read one of his essays HERE.