My Green Journey...
 

A bit of history: My great-grandparents purchased this farm in 1901and started building the house in 1906 and the dairy barn in 1910. I moved here over thirty years ago and in the process of renovating the house and barn and growing Christmas trees, I become passionate about my heritage and this land. Living and working here has given me a connection to a way of life and a way of thinking that most of us know little about today. I know my great-grandparents and grandparents had a close connection to this land, their neighbors and their community .They really cared about these things and I have also found it very satisfying to know my community and my place in such meaningful ways.

One important way of bringing community together is using the Loft in the old barn where we hold retreats, workshops, classes and community meetings. I believe the Loft provides a forum to help make our community a better place to live. One very important group that meets here is Sno-Valley Tilth which is made up of the organic farmers and like- minded people of the valley. They are a very active group that supports sustainable farming and provides local food through the Carnation Farmers Market.

 

The community classes offered here in the Loft since early 2006 have had a very positive effect on my life. Each discussion course uses one of seven course books, with more to come, from the Northwest Earth Institute which help us take action towards a more sustainable future. The Nootka Rose Community Garden which we started on the farm in 2007 is one result of these classes.

We are also forming the Snoqualime Valley Transition Initiative focus being in raising people's awareness about the need for our communities to transition away from fossil fuels and to begin building local solutions to climate change, the economic crisis and the many other problems we face from the availability of cheap fossil fuels.

My participation in these classes has increased my awareness of our place in the world and how we affect the earth and has helped us commit to sustainable practices that protect and preserve the environment. For many years we did not like the heavy use of chemicals to fertilize and maintain the trees so we began researching and refining methods which have helped change the way we grow trees and steward the land.

For over twenty years we have controlled erosion and maintained weed control by planting grass between the trees. This cover crop is maintained by a custom mower that rolls around each tree which greatly reduces the need for toxic chemicals. We are also experimenting with drip irrigation systems and sheet-mulching on the smaller trees to conserve water, maintain weed control and enhance soil quality. Most of the mulch is made from trees from our farm either from the community Christmas tree recycling event that has been held at the farm for many years or our own tree limbs we chip at the farm. Farm sustainability is enhanced by keeping this valuable resource on the farm.

We partnered with King Conservation District (KCD) in 2006 to improve and protect the wetlands along the farmís southern boundary by removing invasive blackberry and planting native trees and shrubs. A Farm Conservation Plan has also been prepared with KCD to help manage the farm in an environmentally conscious way. We believe maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat is an important part of farmland conservation and our efforts were recently recognized when the farm was named Wildlife Habitat Farm of the year by King Conservation District. Since wildlife habitat is being lost at an alarming rate as development expands into rural areas, farmers and land owners alike can help offset this loss by setting aside areas to be managed primarily for beneficial wildlife.

In 2007 Carnation Tree Farm was the first Christmas tree farm in the Northwest to be certified as Salmon-Safe, an emerging Northwest eco-label that recognizes agricultural practices that protect local waterways, prevent soil erosion, use natural weed and pest control methods, practice water conservation, and encourage a diversity of plant and wildlife habitat. The Salmon-Safe Program was founded in Oregon in 1997 and has since been recognized as one of the most reliable eco-labels in the country. Located in the beautiful and ecologically productive Snoqualmie Valley, Carnation Tree Farm is less than one third mile from where the Tolt River empties into the Snoqualmie, creating one of the most productive salmon spawning areas in the region. We recognize that how growers treat the land affects the health of our waterways, our soil, and wildlife.

Due to our Green Farming Practices and Partnerships, in 2007 the Carnation Tree Farm was named 'Wildlife Habitat Farm' of the year by King Conservation District. Additionally, in 2008, Roger Thorson, owner of Carnation Tree Farm, was named Washington State’s “Wildlife Steward of the Year”. Nominated by the King Conservation District (KCD), the award is part of a joint recognition program by the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, the Conservation Commission and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

In the future we will establish native hedgerows along our west boundary and continue planting native plants. By maintaining buffers, field borders, cover crops, and native trees and shrubs, we are promoting on-farm biodiversity, creating wildlife habitat and protecting the environment. All of these things make our farm a pleasant place to be and I think helps make the community a nice place to visit.

So what does it mean to be green? I donít really know. I do know that having over 30,000 photosynthesizing Christmas trees absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen is a good thing and that how we grow the trees and steward the land are steps in the right direction. I also know that there are many more steps in the future for all of us to take to help protect this planet we call home.

 
Thank you for visiting my 'Green Journey',
Roger Thorson